Marketers seek to step up innovation and master personalization, report suggests

Marketing innovation

With more than two-thirds of marketers citing continued growth as a priority, technology innovation is considered a key priority for 2017, according to a recent report. Over 300 brands surveyed emphasized that to increase sales, improve customer engagement and improve customer acquisition, they are looking to implement cross-channel initiatives.

Data from the survey consistently shows that forty percent of respondents say they will implement cross-channel attribution, with 38% implementing tools for channels and content and 25% working to implement data-fed, consistent views of their customers.

While email remains a strong channel for consumer communication (with 68% of those surveyed saying email would receive an increase of attention/budget in 2017), marketers are looking to step up innovation, yet they still struggle to master personalization. Even with 70% of marketers noting they use "email engagement" data for personalization, half of marketers admit their personalization efforts are weak, and nearly half (46%) do not personalize email subject lines. Nonetheless, more than two-thirds (68%) said they wish they could improve email personalization, and 59% said the same about their websites.

Although marketers plan to continue investing in traditional marketing channels like email, social media, and display advertising, many have an interest in implementing more advanced tactics. For instance, nearly half of respondents said that while they're not using dynamic offers currently, they are interested in doing so this year. Additionally, 38% said they are interested in incorporating user-generated content into their marketing communications.

Responses from the marketers surveyed suggest they are looking to marketing technology and service providers to help achieve their goals. When asked which offerings they look for in a marketing service provider, 31% of respondents ranked "technology innovation" as most important. Marketers also ranked ease-of-use, reporting, and integrated analytics as, respectively, their top three most important characteristics when using a marketing technology solution.

"When it comes to implementing new technologies, marketers must learn to walk before they can run," said Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. "Before focusing on advanced tactics, marketers should focus on mastering the basics, such as deploying emails with data-led personalization. To drive sales with more technologically advanced tactics such as dynamic offers or beacons, marketers must first gain a holistic view of the customer."

The report shows a very low percentage of marketers surveyed are currently using virtual reality (8%) or augmented reality (7%). Similarly, 21% are interested in implementing virtual reality and 25% augmented reality. Just as noteworthy, more than half of marketers said both virtual reality and augmented reality do not apply to their organization (57 and 55%, respectively). This may indicate marketers are skeptical about how advanced tactics such as these will help them reach their goals.

Further, 54% of retailers said social media will receive an increase in budget in 2017, while 49% of respondents described their marketing efforts as "one size fits all."

"Brands are looking for partners who will help them become insights-driven businesses," said Mike Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup, parent company of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. "As marketers want to implement more advanced, innovative tactics, the right technology and services partner will provide the cross-channel capabilities needed to be able to execute highly-personalized marketing communications."

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