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Marketers Struggling With Real-Time Personalization

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Most marketers say they struggle to personalize content in real-time, even though 77% say real-time marketing is highly important to their organization, according to a recent report by Neolane and The Direct Marketing Association.

Overall, marketers surveyed rate personalizing messages based on consumer behavior as their top challenge (60%), followed by marketing effectiveness/response rates (57%), improving customer retention (43%), harnessing Big Data (41%), and driving revenue via cross-sell/up-sell (38%).

Below, additional key findings from the Real-Time Marketing Insights Study, which was based on a survey 235 North American marketers.

What Is Real-Time Marketing?

  • 43% of survey respondents define real-time marketing as providing "dynamic personalized content across channels."
  • 13% define it as "dynamic personalized content in outbound channels."
  • 12% define it as "developing quick response to mainstream event."

Highest Rated Real-Time Marketing Channels

  • Email is the highest rated real-time marketing channel: 80% of respondents find it very important.
  • The next highest rated real-time channel is the Web (69% of marketers find it highly important), followed by mobile devices (53%), point of sale (49%), call centers (49%), and social channels (45%).
  • 75% of marketers rate dynamic, personalized content across channels as highly important, and 95% find it moderately to highly important.

Plans for Real-Time Personalization

  • 29% of marketers currently practice cross-channel real-time marketing, and an additional 49% are planning to do so in the future.
  • More than half (55%) of marketers already practice real-time email marketing, and 32% have plans to do so in the future.

Real-Time Concerns

Survey respondents' top concerns about real-time marketing include the complexity of systems (50%), access to real-time data (46%), data privacy (45%), and training (39%).

About the research: The report was based on a survey 235 North American marketers. The majority (53%) work for companies with revenues under $99 million.


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Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategy and content consultant. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. His experience includes working as a strategist and producer of digital content for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, and AOL.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Tamar Mon Jul 29, 2013 via web

    Hi Ayaz, I loved your article, especially the list of concerns about real-time marketing. The three biggest concerns are easily overcome - our customers are easily able to set up campaigns in real-time using our technology that integrates into any CMS with zero IT. They also have access to information in real-time - the prospect's lcoation, organization, and digital behavior, without violating personal privacy issues. Great article, thanks for educating the masses. Tamar, Insightera.

  • by Ayaz Nanji Mon Jul 29, 2013 via web

    Thanks for the comment Tamar!

  • by Crystal Mon Jul 29, 2013 via web

    Great post Ayaz!

    Really happy to see these stats - especially those regarding real-time relevancy and personalization. We just recently started using a platform by the team at Evergage.com to add real-time behavior-based personalization to our website and are amazed by the increase in our conversion and retention rates.

    If Marketers aren't embracing personalization - they need to. And with platforms like Evergage, it doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it's actually quite seamless.

  • by Gracious Store Mon Jul 29, 2013 via web

    What does it mean or imply when marketers have varied opinion or definition of real time marketing?

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