North American Digital Marketers Rank Key Goals and Challenges

August 27, 2014

Forrester-NA-Digital-Marketers-Top-Goals-Aug2014North American digital marketing decision-makers are more focused on winning new customers than they are on retaining existing ones, according to [download page] a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. Interestingly, few identified the orchestration of personalized customer experiences across multiple digital touch points to be a top-3 goal. That may be related to where respondents feel that personalization has its biggest impact: 44% feel that their personalization efforts have had significant impact on retention/loyalty metrics, compared to 31% feeling that those efforts have had the same amount of impact on acquisition metrics.

Still, it’s interesting to see personalization rank lower than stellar customer service in the list of top digital marketing goals, particularly as recent research has found it to be US marketers’ most important future area.


Nevertheless, while personalization may not be a top goal among the digital marketers surveyed by Forrester and ExactTarget, it is a big challenge. Indeed, presented with a list of 8 challenges and asked to identify their top 3, almost half cited personalization of every customer interaction with relevant experiences. That was the leading top-3 challenge, ahead of related challenges such as meeting the expectations of the always-connected customer and analyzing streams of digital data from every customer interaction. (See here for more on personalization’s challenges and opportunities.)

The report’s authors note that the personalization of all customer interactions is likely to remain a challenge given that only 28% of respondents collect customer interaction data on a daily basis.

In fact, only a slim majority use customer interaction data to plan and execute their digital marketing programs, with respondents more likely to be using demographic data (67%), customer behavior data (64%) and campaign response data (63%).

Looking further into the tools that respondents rely on for personalization and targeting, the report finds that the most commonly used today are:

  • Web analytics (81%);
  • Email marketing platforms (79%);
  • Site search technology (74%); and
  • Web content management systems (73%).

Technologies still making inroads include next-best offer technology (37%) and A/B and multivariate testing tools (41%), with relatively few respondents planning to increase their spending on those technologies this year.

Finally, the report indicates that digital marketing decision-makers are most likely to be evaluating consumers’ expectations for personalization across various channels by probing about it in their consumer satisfaction surveys (67%) and using metrics that indicate the strengths and weaknesses of their personalization program (53%). Only one-third agree that they use real-time decisioning to guide personalization so that the consumer interaction drives the offer versus prebuilt propensity scores for various offers.

About the Data: In the study, Forrester conducted an online survey of 121 retail, media and leisure, financial services and insurance, and healthcare organizations in North America to evaluate marketing personalization techniques, technologies, and metrics. Survey participants included digital marketing decision-makers involved in personalization. The study began in April 2014 and was completed in May 2014.

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