New Soda Study Reveals Significant Increase in Customer Personalization Budgets Despite Lag in Capabilities

Despite Significant Increase in Budgets Globally, Marketers’ Utilization of Personalization and AI Still Limited

 In partnership with  Sitecore, the global leader in digital experience management software, SoDA has released The SoDA Report On… Global Trends in Personalization, highlighting challenges and opportunities for global business leaders in digital experience personalization. The SoDA Report On is a white-paper series spun from the larger annual trend publication, The SoDA Report, used by today’s top agencies and brands to understand the dynamics impacting the future of marketing.

In this latest Report, SoDA and Sitecore explore the evolution of digital personalization and examine the strategies and tools required to produce the most effective consumer experience. The findings revealed that 83% of marketing leaders and C-level executives increased their investments in personalization efforts for 2019 with 32% pointing to a “significant budget increase” this year.

When deployed effectively, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want. However, while marketing leaders and C-level executives clearly recognize the importance of personalization, the majority appear to overestimate their current capabilities. When it comes to digital experience personalization, 67% of global leaders rate their organizations as “Masters” or “Experts” with robust and advanced levels of personalization capabilities. However, while rating themselves highly in terms of organizational maturity, less than 40% are currently utilizing even the most basic targeting criteria for personalization.

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“There’s no doubt that digital experience personalization is a growing priority for marketing leaders and C-level executives across the globe,” says Tom Beck, Executive Director at SoDA. “While our data shows increased spending to improve capabilities, the majority of organizations still point to constrained budgets, limitations with their technology platform, and challenges with their data as some of the biggest barriers hindering their progress. It’s also worth noting that more than half of all organizations lack an adequate strategic roadmap and investment plan for their personalization capabilities.”

“There’s nothing scarier for me as a marketer than the idea that personalization budgets are increasing, but marketers are overestimating their current capabilities and underestimating what it takes to truly master personalization,” said Paige O’Neill, chief marketing officer at Sitecore. “Despite the fact that over a third of marketers see digital experience as a major competitive advantage, most are struggling to leverage crucial personalization techniques, from basic targeting to AI capabilities. Without building a solid internal architecture and tapping external resources like Sitecore’s leading platform, opportunities, and, ultimately, return on the investments will be lost.”

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The findings of the research highlight this and other key issues that both agency leaders and brand marketers face, while delivering valuable insight into the current state, as well as future trends, of digital personalization. In addition to the in-depth research component and summation, the Report includes original articles providing crucial guidance on overcoming personalization barriers by industry leaders from Microsoft, Perficient Digital, Dept, Deepend, Sitecore, and more. Finally, the report also provides readers a deep-dive into investment priorities, content production, data practices, and budget allocation.

Notably, the research also found that the focus on personalization is universal: the importance of digital experience personalization and plans for increased investments varied little across geographic regions, leadership roles, and size of digital budget, indicating that personalization is a consistent, global priority.

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