MarTech Today Research: A marketer’s guide to personalization tools

The new report focuses on 18 selected tools that segment, test and deliver content, emails and recommendations to individuals or customer segments.

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The biggest difference that digital technology has made for marketing is the ability to personalize at scale.

As a result, there are countless tools providing some measure of personalization, and a free new report from MarTech Today Research — out today — highlights the leading ones.

Based on in-depth interviews with leading vendors and industry experts in May and June, “Enterprise Digital Personalization Tools: A Marketer’s Guide” takes a look at selected tools that help satisfy the personalized experiences expected by about 85 percent of online retail shoppers, according to eMarketer.

Included are a comparative graph and individual vendor profiles for 18 tools, selected for their roles as industry leaders or because they are solely focused on this need.

The report defines these tools as ones that automate “the organization’s ability to target and segment an audience and deliver personalized content, product recommendations, tailored emails, and targeted promotions — in real-time, across various channels — based on visitor behavior and characteristics.” The techniques — intended to boost engagement, brand loyalty or conversion — include testing, segmentation, recommendations and targeted emails or landing pages.

David Raab, a marketing tech analyst who was an editorial adviser on the report, noted that personalization doesn’t always mean one-to-one. It can involve segments of users, as well as individual targeting, whether the target audience is anonymous or known.

He also pointed out that the line has blurred between testing/optimization and personalization, since many testing/optimization tools — such as Adobe’s Target or Oracle Maxymiser — often serve as the engines to determining the most effective content, emails or product recommendations for given types of users, about whom some interests are known.

Interestingly, B2B buyers have higher expectations of personalized offers and experiences than do B2C buyers, as shown in a Salesforce bar graph reprinted in the report:

Digital Experiences

Raab attributed this to the fact that B2B buyers are “more sophisticated consumers” of marketing materials — even though, for many, the personalization may be directed at their organization or their browsing habits, and not their individual selves. And, he noted, B2B buyers expect such personalization, even though many don’t offer it to their own customers.

All of the tools presented in the report offer certain features, including personalization across channels, testing, a rules-based recommendation engine, segmentation and behavioral targeting.

The differentiators tend to be the more advanced capabilities, such as real-time testing, native integration with analytics tools and recommendation engines driven by AI, such as the Sensei-powered enhancements recently announced by Adobe Target.

As the report notes, AI is becoming a key tool in tailoring content and products down to individual levels. This highly granular one-to-one personalization, Engagio CEO and Marketo co-founder Jon Miller told me recently, has been the goal and driver of digital marketing from the beginning.

Raab also pointed out that many personalization tools do not yet take into account cross-channel or cross-device identity, so that multichannel marketing may direct the same material to the same person/people over, say, different devices. While AI can help personalization tools tailor their responses to individuals, integration with cross-channel or cross-device graphs is key to personalizing for actual people as they use multiple ways to interact with brands.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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