Rob brings over 18 years of industry experience in technology marketing – both direct and channel, to his position at Quadient. Previously, Rob led Marketing at Avaya Canada, go to market for medium businesses at Dell Canada and brings marketing, finance, manufacturing and logistics experience from his time at Maple Leaf Foods. An avid composer and musician, Rob continues to combine digital and social media to drive awareness and consideration in the B2B marketplace. Rob holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.
Back when we were still GMC Software in the early 2000s, Quadient set the standard at the time for personalization software with our PrintNet Solutions Portfolio. Our tagline was literally "The New Standard in Personalized Communications". At the time, we couldn't imagine that in 2017, new channels in online and mobile would ensure that personalization was still all the rage.
In 2015, Gartner made a prediction that by the end of next year, companies that had fully invested in online personalization capabilities would be outselling their competitor by more than 30%. Recently, Gartner revisited this study and found that more than 60% of marketers indicated that they are currently implementing some form of digital personalization project. Unfortunately few marketers indicated they feel they are meeting customer expectations.
This is echoed in a recent report by Evergage, where 55% of marketers "Disagreed" that marketers are getting personalization right, and only 33% of marketers are confident that they have the tools required to personalize websites and apps today.
It is not surprising then, that in a recent survey by conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, it was found that the top three areas of focus for increased marketing budget next year are Social Media, Content and Personalization. Personalization now ranks right up at the top of marketing focus areas - beating out items that have been dominating CMO priorities for many years, including video advertising, lead generation, mobile marketing, email marketing and marketing automation.
Given that we have been working with enterprises around the world on implementing personalization solutions for over 16 years, I find it interesting that personalization projects are once again top of mind for marketers, albeit driven by different forces. Back in the day, the complexity associated with supporting high print volumes was challenging companies to remain efficient at getting their customer communications to market.
GMC Software's PrintNet was one of the best solutions to address this gap, allowing printers to run at a much faster pace. But the software was also exceptionally clever at allowing companies to pull data from multiple systems and serve up that data as personalized communications to customers through a variety of reuseable templates.
Just for fun, I pulled this from an old PrintNet brochure from early days at GMC Software:
The most effective personalized applications can also be the most challenging. The job flow must retrieve, read, merge and print data from multiple sources and bundle it appropriately for output in different media. PrintNet T automatically assembles all design, data and other document resources, and sends them as fully composed files ready for the designated printer or other delivery channel. Superior data handling and logic enable detailed personalization and greater relevance for your documents. Data from address files, transaction records, code tables and other sources are merged seamlessly on the fly, even at very high volumes, with no impact on your production printers.
Simply replacing words like "job flow" and "printer" with "API" and "Mobile App" highlights that the challenges of today's marketers don't seem that far off from those of the past.
Fast forward to today, and PrintNet has grown up into Inspire (now on Release 11) - a multichannel ready communications platform that can leverage easy to design templates across any channel - digital, mobile, print and more. Interestingly, both the capability and the challenge has remained consistent. Now more than ever, Marketers need assistance bridging a growing world of data into highly polished personalized messages.
So 17 years in, how far along are marketers? Not very far. A 2017 Personalization Development Study by Monetate found that 56% of companies currently have a personalization project in process, 28% are just starting out, and 10% are not doing anything. The most eye opening statistic: Only 6% of marketers felt that they had reached a state of advanced implementation in their personalization strategy!
So, you may ask - if Quadient has been offering personalization solutions for over 20 years, why are companies still struggling with personalization? I believe the answer is that we have come full circle - marketing leaders are once again struggling to deliver enough relevant, meaningful content to fill the overabundance of channels that they have developed. And they are struggling to do so in a way that is both brand and legally compliant - often facing a much more rigid regulatory environment then that of the past. Over the past 4 weeks, we've looked closely at the rise of Martech, but it merits a quick look at the Marketing Technology Landscape to understand the immense growth in platforms and solutions that marketers are adopting. The landscape has grown from 150 providers in 2011 to 5,000 providers today.
Even a quick glance at the martech 5000 is enough to note that the majority of these platforms are geared at targeting, messaging to and acquiring net new clients. It would follow then that marketers are looking to adopt personalization solutions within their Martech stack to go after prospects, and that marketing leaders are looking to use the power of personalization to appeal to new audiences through new social and digital channels using powerful Martech applications.
Surprisingly, a little bit of research shows that isn't the case. A report from InMoment indicates that the overwhelming priority for brands is to focus personalization on later stages of the customer journey, and not on the top of the funnel. That means marketers are recognizing the power of personalization is inherent in supporting the ongoing customer experience, and not in acquisition programs!
The reason that organizations are struggling with personalization during the ownership phase of their customer experience is that the systems that power acquisition models have been introduced to market very recently in response to the need to support new mobile and social channels. For example, from 2001 to 2014, enterprise investment in mobile application development rose from 19B to 114B and continues to grow at a rapid pace.
As marketers were forced to build out their marketing tech stacks quickly to keep pace with their competition, they had to choose between leveraging a bi-modal IT organization that could execute quickly, having their vendor complete the implementation as a managed service, or they had to take the project into the marketing organization directly. As a result, the scope of these projects did not include connectivity to core systems & systems of record.
The result? Customers are targeted with differentiated, personalized messaging during the acquisition phase, but this personalization can't follow the customer into the buy and ownership phases of the customer journey, since those phases are governed by different systems in the enterprise. Organizations are starting to wake up to the fact that they have lost track of their most important asset - their ability to leverage martech to better service not only prospects, but their customers as well.
For more information, check out the following complimentary resources from Quadient: