IBM Study Shows What Consumers Want From Online and In-Store Personalization

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

market-research-dataIn a recent article on this site, we discussed the value of personalization for marketers in website and email marketing design. The article focused on research that show how much consumers like personalization and some of the ways it could be implemented. A new study from IBM investigates this topic further. The IBM study shows the value of personalization, and more importantly, how to get consumers to give marketers the data they need to make personalization work.

The IBM study found that nearly half of US consumers want personalization in their online experience and many want it from in-store retailers as well. The study found that 48 percent of US consumers want on-demand, personalized promotions while shopping online, while 44 percent want the same in the store. The researchers felt that retailers hadn’t fully met the challenge of creating the experience consumers want. According to IBM, though 43 percent of those surveyed said they prefer to shop online, only 29 percent reported making their most recent purchase online.

“With consumers switching seamlessly from online to the store it might appear that retailers have finally struck the right balance, but IBM’s study identifies a significant gap between what shoppers want from retailers and what they are getting today,” said Sarah Diamond, General Manager, IBM Global Business Services in a press release. “Retailers may not be doing enough to meet consumer expectations shaped by digital experiences outside of retail — from location-based services to preference-based apps. The good news is that this gap also indicates the potential of growth for retailers who can meet those consumer expectations.”

Knowing that consumers like personalization is helpful, but the greater challenge is getting them to give up their information. Many consumers are extremely wary of giving their information to companies. Giving your email to the wrong entity can lead to large amounts of spam messages and security risks. Even before the internet, putting one’s name and address on a list could lead to piles of unwanted mail. Marketers must be willing to overcome these consumer fears in order to make personalization work. It may take some effort, but it will lead to more loyal customers.

The study found that one way online and in-store retailers can get customers to give out data is to offer text messages with personalized offers. IBM reported that the majority(54%) of US consumers see potential benefits in sharing their mobile information to receive texts from retailers. Not only do they see the value, many (42%) are willing to give their phone numbers to retailers to get these benefits.

Remember, there are laws regulating how business can use text messages. The retailer must have permission amongst other things. Read this article read about the most recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Marketers must also keep in mind that just because technology makes something possible, doesn’t mean that consumers will like it. Mobile devices have the potential to provide marketers with a lot of useful information that can be used for personalization, but doing that makes many customers concerned. The researchers at IBM noted that though 42 percent of US consumers see the potential benefits in sharing their locations with retailers via GPS only 28 percent are willing to do so.

Consumers may not want to share their GPS location directly with retailers, it’s still possible to use location-based marketing. Most mobile apps and ad networks offer ad targeting based on location, marketers just wouldn’t be able to use them to provide personalized specials to a particular user’s device. All the same, being shown a generic ad for a retailer near their location is good enough for most people.

Besides the information about personalization and data, the IBM study had other findings that are useful for marketers. For example, the study noted that 60 percent of shoppers said it’s important to be able to find out if an item is in stock before going to the store.

Marketers can read the entire study from IBM on their website. And read this article for more information on how marketers can merge their online and in-store experience.


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