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real-time personalizationReal-time personalization may be the ultimate goal for savvy digital marketers. Most experts agree that personalizing marketing content is an essential practice in digital media. Taking that concept a step further, real-time personalization customizes content to customers’ actions online immediately. An example would be a hotel chain website advertising their properties to a customer searching for airline tickets to the Caribbean.

Tapping more data to create customized and targeted content is the top priority for marketers over the coming12 months, reveals new research from Altimeter, a research and consulting firm. The next highest priority is investing in technology that enables real-time personalization.

Website & Social Media Data Offers Data

Companies rely on web analytics and social media analytics to personalize content, the research finds.

It’s not surprising that most marketers (72%) say web analytics are the most frequently used source of data to deliver personalized content and experiences. All companies with a website or mobile app can examine their web analytics, without substantial technical expertise. Web analytics also integrates with most CMS or web personalization platforms.

Social media metrics (69%) were the next most popular. Using social media analytics for real-time personalization is often challenging for many marketers since that data is difficult to integrate or import into other channels.

Many marketers (58%) also use customer surveys, which can still provide value in the digital world. Forty percent said they use third-party databases to buy or import customer data, a practice that is on the decline following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — and the often shady origins of the data, according to Altimeter.

Other research has highlighted the benefits of social media analytics for personalizing content.

“While data and advanced analytics play a crucial role in understanding shopper behavior, qualitative listening tools are also critical, states an earlier report, What Shoppers Really Want from Personalized Marketing from McKinsey & Company. “Regular engagement with an ongoing shopper panel, for example, and ethnographic research and observation can offer valuable, in-depth, attitudinal feedback on the impact of personalized communications.”

Most marketers say they’re currently using or beginning to use real-time personalization in some form. Almost half say their companies are highly skilled at personalization on websites, 42% reported that they are highly skilled at doing so on mobile apps. They’re much less confident about display ads. It’s easier to enact real-time personalization on owned channels, with modern content management systems, Altimeter notes.

Some of the other key findings include:

  • Brand awareness (37%) is the top goal of digital marketing, followed by lead generation (26%) and customer experience (20%).
  • Acquiring the right skills (55%) and scaling innovation (54%) are the biggest challenges for marketing organizations.
  • Data analysis (41%) and tech expertise (38%) are the most-desired skills in new hires.
  • Sixty-one percent of marketers said customer loyalty and customer lifetime value (CLV) are their top metrics for measuring digital marketing success.
  • Social media, both paid and organic, and websites are the best performing channels.

Bottom Line: Personalized content clearly pleases customers. But delivering that content, especially in real time can be challenging. To overcome that challenge, marketers are turning to social media analytics, website data and other sources to mine customer data.