So long personalization, it’s been a slice


Personalization has long been the Holy Grail of marketing. For years, marketers in every industry have been striving to give their customers highly personalized experiences that demonstrate that they understand exactly who they are and what they care about. And yet, according to Gartner, within just five short years, 80 percent will toss those efforts by the wayside. Among the reasons for this massive shift include mounting privacy regulations, a lack of ROI, and the simple fact that most companies don’t have a true personalization strategy.

To be clear, no one is suggesting that marketers will, or should, stop trying to give their audiences relevant content and messaging that’s delivered through targeted campaigns. Customers absolutely want personalized experiences that are tailored just for them. However, to be successful at personalization over the long term, marketers need to find smarter, more effective ways of approaching it that deliver meaningful business outcomes without exposing the business to any unnecessary risk.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at why personalization as we know it today is likely to go the way of the dinosaurs and what it will look like in its next incarnation.

The problem with personalization

Trying to create personalized experiences by collecting and using data indiscriminately, including personally identifiable information (PII), just isn’t a recipe for success. Among the many reasons why traditional approaches to personalization struggle to deliver results include:

  • Mounting privacy regulations. According to Gartner research, 27 percent of marketers say that data is the main hurdle they face when it comes personalization. Simply put, collecting, integrating, and protecting data remains a major challenge. That last bit—protecting data—is a particular sticking point for most companies. Hardly a week goes by when you don’t see major data breaches making headline news. In response to growing concerns about data privacy, over the past few years a raft of new regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act have emerged. As new regulations come into effect over the months and years ahead in an effort to protect consumers’ privacy, compliance will become an even more onerous task.

  • A clear lack of ROI. Personalization accounts for approximately 14 percent of marketing budgets and yet, for many, it doesn’t deliver any immediate ROI. The reality is that personalization is a strategy that takes time to execute and even longer to start paying dividends. Plus, it can be difficult to directly attribute any increase you might see in revenue back to your personalization efforts. Not surprisingly, at a time when marketing budgets are under heightened scrutiny, companies are likely to cut back on areas like personalization that they don’t see producing an immediate return on investment.

  • Most marketers have no real personalization strategy. In spite of the investment companies are making in personalization, only 5 percent of marketers say that they have a personalization strategy and roadmap that they feel good about. Given the amount of money at stake, that’s problematic. Without a well-defined strategy, it’s virtually impossible to use personalization tactics effectively to deliver better business outcomes. 

Collectively, these and other challenges are the equivalent of a death sentence for personalization.

Personalization is dead. Long live personalization!

While traditional approaches to personalization appear to be reaching their limits, that doesn’t mean there aren’t smarter approaches to solving the problem. 

At integrate, for example, we never use PII. Instead, we’re setting a new standard in privacy and security by using signals from other industries to complement your data and generate better predictions about your customers. As a result, we can help you understand what incentives to deliver to which of your customers at just the right time to help dramatically increase their chances of converting. It’s a form of personalization that delivers relevant experiences to your customers in a way that’s safe, secure, and effective.


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