Marketing Automation Buyer's Guide

Why Is Personalization So Hard for Marketers?

Why Is Personalization So Hard for Marketers?

Nishant Patel—Co-Founder and CTO at Contentstack—has shared his opinion on why personalization can be a challenge for marketers and offers some suggestions on how to resolve it. This article originally appeared in Insight Jam, an enterprise IT community that enables human conversation on AI.

Ask a marketer what they wish was possible, and they’ll likely talk about personalization. That’s because we have not unlocked true personalization. I’d define this as when a user visits a brand’s experience—the website, app, social media, plus other channels—and is served as a reflection of their unique interests, market, and demographic. Another user might visit the same channels yet experience an entirely different version because no two people are the same.

However, while 70 percent of brands want these personalized experiences82 percent lack a clear strategy. That’s the crux of a long-standing industry problem. Even though personalized experiences have been a business requirement, they’ve been impossible to execute. That means marketers begin and end the year with the same unfulfilled leadership expectation—and are understandably frustrated by it. For years, the industry has been striving towards the dream of a 1:1 personalized future. What’s keeping us from it?

Problem #1: Marketers Rely Too Much on IT Teams

Marketers struggle to create content without help from IT. 30 percent of B2B marketers even said creating content now requires technical skills. When you dig into how marketers create content, the reason for the dependency becomes clear: content creation happens across different systems that developers must integrate.

For example, a content marketer:

  • Writes a blog post in a text editor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
  • They send it off for edits via email or another communication channel.
  • When the piece is approved, they set it up and publish it through the content management system (CMS).
  • Other longer pieces of content might not be stored in the CMS but in another software system (which requires integration).
  • A/B testing is often carried out in a different system entirely (another integration).
  • We haven’t even touched the post-publication process, like measuring content performance and updating when necessary.

More than half of enterprise companies use over 50 integrations. The issue is that vendors often offer current personalization solutions outside the CMS, which means more integration, dependencies, and problems. If content is king (which it is), why would we dull our competitive edge by bringing personalization outside the CMS?

Problem #2: Content Volume Demands – and the Problem With AI

One of the biggest personalization blockers for marketing has always been the volume of content required. Imagine a global organization that wants to personalize its website. Let’s say it starts small with one copy block for audience segments in different markets. It might sound simple, but here’s some math:

  • Four geographical locations
  • Six industries
  • Four audience personas
  • Three customer segments

…that equals 288 unique pieces of content for just one block of copy. Now, hand that task over to your team and watch the color drain from their faces.

The democratization of AI in 2023 unlocked this particular piece of the puzzle. Need 288 pieces of content? No problem; AI can knock that out for you in minutes. But unfortunately, when you use AI to create content, the output is similar for every brand, even competitors. Generic content doesn’t meet customers where they are, develop relationships, or nurture loyalty and satisfaction.

We might bridge the quantity problem, but we sacrifice content quality in the process. We need AI systems that function with the brand’s voice, tone, and mission at heart. Otherwise, we switch one roadblock for another.

Problem #3: Operationalized Personalization at Scale

When we talk to customers, one of their biggest challenges is scale. How do I scale content operations across every marketing team, channel, audience, geographical market, and interest? That problem gets amplified when talking about personalization for reasons we’ve already explored. It’s daunting, but this is where automation steps in.

AI and automation work together to unlock a superpower, making personalization a repeatable process at scale. Remember the math problem from earlier? AI takes on the challenge of creating 288 brand-relevant pieces for each segment; automation pushes the copy it creates through human edits and approvals until it is published. Except now, it’s not just one block of copy; it’s components of an entire brand experience.

Industry players are already well on their way to solving these challenges for marketers. When we do that, we unlock a 1:1 personalized future that delivers the right stories to the right audiences at the right moment in time to create great outcomes for everyone involved.

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