The world of choice that ecommerce provides means we can go elsewhere if a company does not immediately provide the product, experience or service that we desire and expect.

One report from O2 (The Rise of Me-tail) found that more than 60% of consumers who consistently receive irrelevant communications from brands will stop buying from those companies.

The quest to increase ‘relevance’ has resulted in a surge in the number of companies supplying personalisation services in a wide range of channels.

The first edition of Econsultancy’s Website Personalisation Buyer’s Guide was published this week, aiming to make sense of this busy marketplace and highlight some of the key players in the Website Personalisation space.

It is worth noting that due to the breath of services available in the personalisation sphere, we had to focus our attention on just website personalisation for the purposes of this guide, though many of the vendors featured will also have abilities in aspects of the customer experience outside of the website.

The common ground between the featured companies is the aim of making the customer experience more relevant to individual visitors, through tactics such as product and content recommendations, landing page optimisation, live chat and testing and analytics.

The buyer’s guide discusses the different forms of website personalisation, based on anonymous or known customer data, before discussing some of the latest trends in the industry, including the need for a data layer. Brands are only just starting to take advantage of the wealth of data available, but barriers such as consumer privacy concerns, and initiatives such as ‘Do Not Track’ are limiting the extent to which this data can be used.

However, if a company’s data can be made actionable, its effect on the success of website personalisation can be dramatic. In a recent Econsultancy report, those using data sources such as purchase history, user preferences and browsing behaviour were seeing a high impact on ROI in around 70% of cases.

Many of the vendors included in the guide, when interviewed, spoke of the need to personalise the customer experience in an omnichannel way – irrespective of device or channel – supported by a cross channel data layer.

Andy Walker, UK Managing Director at Innometrics, said:

“The Internet of Things means that focusing purely on online will become more and more irrelevant. Experiences will need to be personalised across, not only websites, apps and call centre, but also across these new devices. Interestingly the devices themselves also create an opportunity for brands to learn more about their consumers.”

Connecting offline experiences to those online is the biggest challenges with creating a fully consistent, omnichannel approach. Merging online and offline datasets is a painful process for most, and fraught with issues of accuracy and consumer privacy concerns.

These and other challenges and opportunities are discussed in the Website Personalisation Buyer’s Guide, which includes profiles about all the vendors highlighted.

Each profile gives information about the company and their offering, and shows their positioning in the market in terms of their technology offering and client focus, and should help marketers decide on vendors.

One decision that many marketers have to make is whether to choose one specialist vendor, or a generalist that covers all bases. This subject is discussed in the guide, with the conclusion that marketers need to form a full understanding about what they want to achieve and the limits of their resources, both in terms of budget and skills, before going shopping for any kind of marketing software.

The customer journey is highly complex and the experience along it has never been more important. There are huge opportunities for competitive advantage for those who can get personalisation right across channels, branching out from website and email and making the journey contextual at every touchpoint that a customer makes.

Amy Rodgers

Published 1 April, 2015 by Amy Rodgers

Amy Rodgers is a Research Analyst at Econsultancy. You can find Amy on Google+

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