Personalisation research: How retailers personalise across 5 channels

By Elias Moubayed

More retailers are beginning to understand this, and Certona partnered with Retail Touchpoints in the US to publish Moving Forward With Mobile: The power of personalising the mobile experience which gives us some interesting data to extrapolate back to the UK retailer marketplace.

Data is based on a recent survey of 136 retail executives and 14 product suppliers in the US, the report mostly focuses on mobile personalisation. But one question takes a wider view:

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Respondents told us which channels they were personalising and what they were personalising in them. What we see is a growing trend of personalisation in all customer touchpoints.

Here are a few insights from the data:

Promotions and Recommendations Dominate the Web

It’s no surprise that the most popular types of personalisation occur on the traditional web. Websites are among the most familiar and adaptable marketing channels available to retailers. Although personalised promotions are slightly more popular than personalised product offers, they are nearly equal in terms of popularity due to their effectiveness.

Personalising content is an effective way to increase customer engagement, and we’re happy to see it rise above the pack to claim the number three spot. As you increase engagement, customers tend to develop a stronger relationship with the brand. They spend more time on the website and may gradually increase order frequency or order size. We expect to see the percentage of companies personalising content to lift in 2013.

Opportunity: Email Recommendations

Promotions are one of the most common types of email in retail, so it’s not surprising to see them dominate personalisation in this channel. What is surprising is that only 39% of retailers send personalised product recommendations via email.

But that may change. About 55.5% of marketing executives say they plan to increase spending on email marketing in 2013, according to a survey from StrongMail. We’ve seen product recommendations perform very well in certain types of emails, such as order confirmations, and we expect to see more of them as marketers invest more in email and remarketing.

Mobile is the New Frontier

Mobile is the Wild West of marketing channels. Just as American pioneers tried everything from gold mines to cattle ranching, US retailers are staking claims with mobile apps, mobile sites, and mobile personalisation. Mobile retail sales increased 81% to nearly $25 billion in the US in 2012, according to eMarketer.

Although overall adoption of personalisation is lower in this channel than online, each type of personalisation is roughly as popular on average — with one notable difference.

In mobile, personalised alerts are slightly more popular on average than on the web. This is likely due to the highly local and timely nature of mobile marketing. Location-based features have overtaken branding and presentation as the most engaging mobile advertising feature, according to Celtra’s Q3 Mobile Rich Media Monitor Report. They get an 18.8% engagement rate on average.

Geo-fencing enables retailers to deliver location-based alerts to consumers who come within range of a bricks-and-mortar location. Such alerts may offer 10% off of purchases on customers’ favorite products when they are in range. The availability of SMS alerts may also contribute to this trend.

Relevant In-Store Experience

Retailers are beginning to connect the power of digital marketing with the tangibility of their bricks-and-mortar locations. Personalised promotions are more popular than any other type of personalisation used at the point of purchase. They are also more popular than every type of personalisation used in contact centres.

Connecting a personalisation strategy to the in-store experience is a big opportunity that retailers are only just beginning to explore. We expect to see more action in this category as companies begin to integrate their data and break down siloes between channels. Steady growth in digital display advertising in-store and omnichannel loyalty strategies will help push this trend even further.


Certona along with partners SLI Systems and Responsys would like to invite UK retailers to attend a free event at No.5 private members club, Cavendish Square, London on Wednesday February 13th which looks further into personalisation. Please register at

About the author

Elias Moubayed works at Certona UK.

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