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Gartner Identifies Four Personalization Tactics to Help Marketers Navigate the Current Recessionary Environment

Marketing Leaders Must Refocus on First-Party Data to Personalize in Risk-Averse Environment


The demise of third-party cookies, heightened consumer sensitivity to messaging, and tightening of marketing budgets have restricted personalization opportunities, according to Gartner, Inc. Because of this, marketers need to rethink their personalization tactics to better navigate the current recessionary environment. They must refocus on first-party data: the data their company has collected directly from their audience.

In Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey, only 14% of respondents reported personalization and testing among the top-three capabilities they see as vital to supporting the marketing strategy. This low level of prioritization suggests marketers are ill-prepared to capitalize on personalization. As a result, Gartner predicts that one-third of marketers will reduce spending on personalization as a line item in the marketing budget by 2021.

“Marketers must obsess less over personalizing across the widest range of data sets, and instead leverage their immediately available first-party data sources,” said Evan Bakker, research principal in the Gartner Marketing practice. “This will allow marketers to improve the customer experience across sites, apps and email in order to capitalize on an expanding digital audience.”

Gartner tracked and analyzed over 1,000 brands for personalization trends and identified four key findings that marketers should keep in mind as they refocus their efforts on first-party data:

  1. Capture meaningful data at sign-up – While collecting less data can limit future targeting opportunities, form fatigue may result in lower sign-up rates, confining most brands to customer names and emails. Marketers should consider segmenting their customers through newsletter sign-ups by offering content preferences, a practice that brands in the pharmaceutical industry often excel at.
  2. Gather and utilize explicit data after login – Account sign-up usually leaves brands with limited immediate data points for personalization, however, the post-login account customization stage can help brands collect richer information about their customers. In fact, all brands studied in Gartner’s report, “Activating Explicit and Implicit Data to Personalize at Scale,” collected some form of segmentation data at the customization stage, compared to only 65% capturing such data during sign-up.
  3. Personalize at scale with implicit data – Prioritize the incorporation of data sourced from session behavior to personalize sites for account and non-account holders at scale. An analysis of sites covering brands ranked as Genius or Gifted in Gartner’s Digital IQ Indexes showed that best-in-class brands most often apply these principles to cross-sell on the product page.
  4. Leverage account data to target via email – Brand marketers must extend their site personalization approach to email, leaning on the implicit and explicit data gathered to send targeted communications. For example, insurance brands frequently use data gathered from prospect quote submission forms or existing policyholders to target users via email across different stages of the customer journey to increase online conversion rates.

Additional detail is available to Gartner for Marketers clients in the report: Aim for Efficiency with Available Data to Personalize Under Recessionary Conditions.

About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner analysts will provide additional insights during Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, which takes place virtually, December 1-3, 2020. The conference provides marketing leaders actionable advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to deliver business results. Gartner analysts address the biggest opportunities, challenges and priorities marketers face today, including data and analytics, customer experience, content marketing, customer insight, marketing technology (martech) and multichannel marketing. Follow news and updates for the event on Twitter at #GartnerMKTG.

About Gartner for Marketers

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