The future of marketing is personalization, and automation technology is a marketer’s best friend when it comes to running highly personalized campaigns.
Yet, the most recent State of Marketing Automation report from London Research and Act-On reveals that just 21% of businesses are using marketing automation technology to personalize their websites for visitors.
Why is this?
The marketing world has been touting the importance of relevance, segmentation and tailored messaging for prospective customers for years now.
We invest in customer journey mapping and create buyer personas to better inform our content. We segment our lists and trigger automated outbound comms based on what we know about our prospects and their behavior.
Yet, most of our personalization efforts are restricted to email, SMS and other outbound channels.
Websites, it seems, are overlooked.
With the exception of the 21% who are ahead of the curve, businesses see websites as a one-version asset.
Many design their website to cater to their entire audience and every single visitor sees the same content, regardless of who they are.
Now, I have a few theories as to why marketers aren’t using their automation tools to personalize their website. I’d love to hear yours too, so please pitch in with a comment at the end of this article!
To send personalized emails, we first require a potential or existing customer to share their personal data with us.
Depending on the information we gather, we can quickly accumulate a lot of solid data about a person; demographic and psychographic, as well as their online behavior.
This data tells us implicitly that the person fits into one of our target audience segments, or that they have a particular pain point or interest.
It makes it a fairly simple task to then write a single email or a sequence of marketing messages that speak to this information.
However, there’s a difference between personalizing one email for a known prospect and an entire web page or website, for a mix of known and unknown prospects.
It essentially means creating multiple versions of a page for:
… and so on.
To effectively personalize a web page experience, we must know our audience inside-out and be able to tailor the content in a way that really resonates – or else risk alienating them.
Particularly for those businesses with many audience segments, it can be a struggle for marketers to create entire web pages that they are confident will be relevant and engaging for each target buyer.
To echo the point above, simple personalization is something that most marketers have mastered.
Long gone are the days when simple first name personalization in an email is enough to evoke that feeling of one-to-one communication.
With premium marketing automation technology available, many have moved into more strategic personalization, such as switching out recommended content links in an email based on the job function of the recipient, for example.
Still, there’s clearly a long way to go when it comes to website personalization and not just because marketers aren’t confident they completely know their buyers.
Other factors include:
Of course, there are other resources to consider, which brings me to my third and final theory…
Consider the technical requirements that come with first integrating a website with automation software, and then syncing everything up so that personalization can be delivered via dynamic content.
While marketing technology tools make personalization on websites much more feasible, they do need to be set up correctly in the first place.
This usually requires substantial technical expertise, perhaps in the form of a dedicated web developer, IT support team or expert consultant in a chosen automation platform.
Enterprise businesses aside, having in-house technical support for a more advanced marketing integration is fairly rare and budgets don’t always allow for external contractors.
Although, I will say at this point that as a marketing automation consultant myself, once the initial implementation is done, personalizing web content is much more straightforward and can be managed in-house with the right training and guidance.
Besides the technical side, another resource consideration is data hygiene.
Managing a database to keep prospect data clean and accurate is a proactive task.
Granted, marketing automation technology can help to automate aspects of this but when it comes to using data for personalization, you only get out what you put in.
Without the resource to jump in and ensure data is managed and governed correctly, it can be difficult to use this data in a truly meaningful way.
No doubt there are other reasons businesses with marketing automation tools aren’t using this to personalize their web content but these are the ones that first occur to me.
As I said earlier, I’m keen to hear other opinions, so please join the discussion by leaving a comment below!
Tom Ryan is the Founder of Pardot consultancy MarCloud Consulting. He’s a Salesforce-Certified Pardot Consultant with ambitions to innovate the Pardot and automation space.
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