Five Points About Personalization

May 15, 2019

While very few marketers would dispute the effectiveness of personalization, there are still barriers to being able to personalize at scale, namely the time and cost involved in creating personalized content. A recent survey of more than 1,000 US consumers from Periscope by McKinsey shares some insights on personalized messages and what consumers think of them.

Here are 5 insights from the survey.

1. Text Messages Get Read

Retailers and brands are sending out a lot of messages to consumers. More than one-third (36%) of US consumers estimate receiving upwards of 50 commercial emails per week, including almost one-fifth (18%) who believe they receive more than 100. Respondents estimate that they open and read about one-third (32%) of the emails they receive – a figure above the 24% average email read rate reported by Return Path.

Text messages, on the other hand, seem to have a better response rate: respondents report opening and reading an estimated 42% of the commercial text messages they receive. That may be a reflection of fewer messages on that platform, as two-thirds estimate receiving 20 or fewer commercial SMS/text messages each week, including 1 in 5 not receiving any.

2. Personalized Products Related to Interests Find Appeal

Only 32% of respondents said that the marketing messages they receive appeared to be created specifically for them, while the remainder said that messages were either somewhat customized (32%) or not created for them at all (36%).

Previous Evergage research found that some three-quarters of marketers personalize emails with first names or company name, but only 21% go beyond that and create messaging based on an individual recipient. However, when respondents to this current survey were asked what types of personalized content they had received in the past month, only 28% said personalized content that contained their name was among the most common types of personalized content they receive.

Instead, product information was the most common type of personalization, with more respondents receiving content about similar product recommendations based on purchase/search (47%), products related to interest (45%) and retargeting of the exact product (43%).

When it came to the most appealing type of personalized content, half of the respondents cited products related to interest, while product recommendations based on a purchase or search and updates on availability/price tied for the second most appealing personalized content (each at 43%).

3. One-third of US Consumers Have Acted On Personalized Communications

Even if personalization isn’t always on target, consumers are still acting on the messaging. A full 37% of US consumers report that they have acted on personalized messaging.

Looking at the personalized messages that most appeal to consumers, it’s not too surprising that almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they acted on a personalized message because it was a great deal, while 47% said it was a product they wanted to buy anyway. Other top reasons for acting on personalized communications include the product being within budget range (42%), the product fit with their taste (37%) and, with a nod to brand loyalty, it was from a brand they love (32%).

4. One in 3 Will Share Shopping History

To personalize effectively, marketers need data. In the same Evergage study mentioned earlier, 3 in 10 marketers cited access to data as one of their biggest obstacles to making personalization a priority. But what data are consumers really willing to give up in order to receive personalized messaging?

Consumers in the US are most willing to give up the very basics, including email address (62%) and basic information i.e. name, gender, birth date (48%). Slightly more than 3 in 10 are willing to share their shopping history (33%) and to answer questions on their preferences (31%).

Consumers are also taking steps to protect their data online. Some 40% of respondents say they only consent to mandatory cookies. With about 2 in 5 (42%) of organizations personalizing their websites based on browsing behavior, this could somewhat curtail personalization.

5. Too Many Messages Leads to Unsubscribes

Almost one-third of US consumers say they unsubscribe to all (9%) or most (22%) of companies or brands that invite them to sign up for personalized messages. While the reasons for unsubscribing vary, close to two-thirds (64%) respondents say their main reason for unsubscribing was because the company communicated with them too often.

When companies get personalization wrong they are also apt to lose subscribers. Almost half (48%) of respondents unsubscribed because they received offers for items that did not match their taste, while one-third (34%) said the communications were ‘creepy.’

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: In March 2019, Periscope By McKinsey conducted online research targeting 1010 consumers in the US. Respondents were aged between 18 and 69 and responses were selectively evaluated by age, category and gender.

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