Personalization challenges that every marketer faces


Personalization challenges that every marketer faces

According to multiple reports, the majority of marketers believe that personalization advances their customer relationships.

Yet, not a marketers apply personalization. In article we will dive into most common challenges and how to solve them.

According to Evergage survey (read it here),

  • 70% of marketers believe personalization has a "strong" or "powerful" impact
  • 85% believe that their customers expect a personalized experience
  • 74% believe that personalization should have a higher priority in their business.

The benefits of personalization are well known:

  • It increases conversion rates
  • Improves customer experience
  • Increases visitor engagement
  • Leads to an increase in customer acquisition

Personalization is best described in "The Science of Why" by David Forbes. He has formulated a desire to change, resulting in three main categories:

  • Expectations - what consumers want to change in the future,
  • Experiences - what consumers want to change now,
  • Outcomes - satisfaction reflection of consumer's past choices.

Even though it is noticeable how personalization can help in driving the business, at the same time, marketers are facing a difficult challenge. Visitors are more educated, and they expect upfront to get personalized content. They want us to know what they want even before they realize it.

Even though the benefits are clear, setting up the personalization is not an easy step. For that, there are specific challenges that need addressing first. Personalization is not a magical button waiting for an outcome to happen. Still, instead, it requires careful planning, thoughts into the data, processes, and driven business outcomes. Let's take a look at the challenges from the user's angle:

  • Identifying micro-behaviors
  • Building of trust
  • GDPR

Challenge 1: Identifying consumer's micro-behaviors through content

Content is what users see on the website. They want an intuitive site, where they can get relevant information in a timely manner. When we serve the content on a particular page, we need to understand which type of users is this content suitable. If we look at a site as a whole, we are not talking only about landing pages or pages which have a call to actions, but a joint cluster of content. We need to ask ourselves:

  • Why has this user arrived on this page?
  • Has it found the right information?
  • From where it came from?
  • What did it search?
  • What is the message which we are trying to bring?
  • Is our content appropriately organized?

We need to be able to understand consumers' micro-behaviors before we decide to personalize the content for them. To do that, we need to determine their preferences.

Answering these questions will help us determine which personalization rules to use.

Challenge 2: Trust

The most difficult to build, the easiest to lose.

In recent years, people have become aware of their digital footprint, mostly thanks to infamous Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. In 2018 it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of Facebook user's profiles without their consent.

This event has highlighted how much the user's data is out there and what happens when that data is misused. In a way, we can say that it has brought the data protection and usage issue to a broader audience. Users have become more aware of what kind of data they are leaving behind, they want to be in control of their data, and they want to be informed of data breaches. They have the right to be informed. As a marketer, you need to think about how you use different technologies, and for what purpose? How do you communicate the message which you want to bring across, and most importantly, how do you deal with user's data?

Challenge 3: GDPR

When GDPR legislation came into effect back in May 2018, it has caused a disturbance in the marketer's world. The main aspects of GDPR that affect marketers are how do you keep track of and how do you communicate with the visitors.

1. Data Permission

One of the examples of data permission is how you manage email opt-ins. Just because someone has contacted you via the contact form does not imply that they want to receive your newsletters. The element of assumption is eradicated. In simple terms, you need to ask their permission, opt-ins need to be a consensual choice.

For example, on a contact form, a pre-ticked checkbox of a newsletter agreement does not cut it anymore. Instead of assuming, we are now asking users to opt-in to the newsletter by selecting the checkbox.

2. Data Access

GDPR has introduced the right to be forgotten and is one of the most important rulings. It gives users the ability to change or to remove inaccurate personal data.

What does this mean in Sitecore terms?

By default, all your data is PII sensitive. Sitecore will not store any of your data. Still, you, as a marketer, need to make sure that any custom implementation addresses this. Your development team needs to know which data is anonymized and which information you want to collect.

3. Data Focus

Before GDPR got into place, marketers were collecting many data, the more, the merrier, the sky was the limit. The main question is, is this amount of data essential and what is the impact of this information on our business. GDPR forces you to justify the processing of the personal data you collect.

But this is not as negative as it may sound.

Implementation of GDPR is helping marketers to focus on data that is relevant. For example, if you are a product company that needs to deliver a product to a home address, you need to have a consumer's address and their contact details. But if you have a form where they need to sign up to download a whitepaper, their address or phone number is irrelevant to your business.

Complying with GDPR is not as difficult as it may sound. Furthermore, you demonstrate to your visitors and consumers that you care about their data treatment.

Challenge 4: Personal Bias

As marketers, we believe that visitors think and act as we do. We create personalization rules and apply personalization based on the data we collect.

But the interpretation of the data and the standards we decide to use, are driven by our personal experience.

When applying personalization rules, you need to make sure that those personalization rules are effective. The wrong personalization is more damaging than having no personalization at all. To measure the effectiveness of your personalization, you need to execute at least four steps as a marketer, which we call, key ingredients.


Una Verhoeven


Do you have questions?  Una is happy to help!

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