INDIANAPOLIS, IN: Most marketers use personalisation and say this has an effect on customer loyalty, but they sometimes struggle to meet consumer expectations and to handle the volume of data involved, a new report has said.

Refresh Your Approach to 1:1 Marketing, a study for ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, the digital marketing platform from Salesforce, was based on research by Forrester Consulting among 121 American digital marketers.

This found that 86% used personalisation and targeting based on broad segmentation and simple clustering, while 84% reported that personalisation impacted customer retention and loyalty.

Several issues cropped up when considering the use of personalisation, however, with almost half of digital marketers (48%) saying it was a challenge to personalise every customer interaction.

Further, 42% cited the difficulties of meeting the expectations of always-connected customers, while a similar proportion were concerned about analysing a constant flow of customer interaction data.

"The ability to deliver personalised customer experiences and contextual, unique offers is essential to retaining and converting customers to brand advocates," the study said.

"But the expectations of empowered, connected consumers make this easier said than done. They have instantaneous access to information across multiple devices and want to interact with brands on their terms – across channels and whenever they want."

Another aspect was highlighted in a recent issue of Market Leader, where Martin Hayward, head of global digital strategy at loyalty management firm Aimia, warned that the possibilities offered by digitisation could either be deployed to provide long-term benefit for brands and customer relationships "or, as normally seems to happen … for – ultimately destructive – short-term promotional activity".

The ExactTarget report highlighted four key predictive and data analytic tools where marketers planned to increase investment to overcome the various challenges, including site optimisation tools (58%), real-time interaction management (52%), predictive algorithms (51%) and guided selling (51%).

"The future of marketing is the customer journey," said Woodson Martin, CMO, ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. "Today's hyper-connected consumer requires companies to create personalised experiences and deliver value at each touch point to increase brand loyalty and drive sales."

"Marketers need to be empowered to use data to drive these 1:1 journeys and experiences with their customers," he added.

Data sourced from ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, Marketing Leader; additional content by Warc staff