It’s no secret that personalization is a vital strategy to luring consumers to shop. However, according to a recent report, most retailers aren’t using it to their advantage, due to the overwhelming number of channels available to reach shoppers.
In an analysis of 100 top retailers, digital marketing firm Sailthru quantified how each uses personalization tactics on platforms including websites, email and mobile apps, and found that even top-ranked brands are failing to effectively optimize their approach. Sephora secured the top spot, scoring 79 points out of 100, within a methodology that examined 58 total attributes.It also factored in a customer survey of 13,000 shoppers in the U.S. and the U.K. who had purchased from one of the brands in the last six months.
Subscription fashion service JustFab came in second (despite not being a well-know household name, it was the only other retailer besides Sephora with a score above 70), followed by Walmart, Net-a-Porter, eBay, Nordstrom, REI, Matches Fashion, Home Depot and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Jason Grunberg, vp of marketing at Sailthru, said it’s notable that Amazon didn’t make the top ten (the company ranked 17th), because it indicates that personalization is an area where other brands can get a leg up on the e-commerce juggernaut.
“Amazon’s priority is the transaction. They don’t care what you buy, but that you buy,” he said. “They have a different depth of product offering. Not everybody can approach things that way.”
Grunberg said personalization blind spots among retailers are a result of a lack of both prioritization and resources, as well as a tendency to lean on traditional forms of personalization, like email subject lines.
“The use of the consumer name or having product recommendations in email or on the website are really the very standard uses of personalization,” he said. “What we did not see, for the most part, is that omni-channel or cross-channel view. What it points to is there’s still this gap between what consumers want and what brands are able to do today, and where they’re prioritizing.”
While many brands are struggling to expand personalization across channels, others are still struggling with the basics of email marketing. This is particularly problematic, since a personalized subject line generates a 50 percent higher open rate and a 58 percent higher click-to-open rate than non-personalized subject lines, according to a recent report by Yes Lifecycle Marketing.
Marie Honme, senior marketing strategist at Yes Lifecycle Marketing, said that even if they achieve a higher open rate, many brands are missing the chance to increase engagement by referencing past purchases or abandoned shopping cart items.
“With retailers, there’s such an opportunity to incorporate things from past purchases, items they might be interested in categorically, to make the subject line that much more relevant,” she said. “For example, something like, ‘Here are more cold-weather items you’ll be interested in.’ Anything that really bring it that much closer to their interests is going to pay off.”