Brands are being urged to explore the opportunities that artificial intelligence-based personalisation strategies can bring to their marketing campaigns on the back of a survey which reveals that poorly-targeted and irrelevant activity is driving customers away from their favourite brands.
According to a study by Emarsys, which quizzed more than 2000 UK consumers, brands are failing to deliver on the promise of marketing - that of true personalisation or individualisation, at scale - with only 6% of consumers believing the product and service offers they receive are specifically relevant to them.
These poor attempts at personalisation are having an adverse impact on customer experience. An alarming two-fifths of consumers (41%) insist they will not purchase from a brand again if they receive irrelevant marketing material, causing irreparable, long-term damage to thousands of customer relationships.
Over 60% demand that offers they receive be tailored to them and their interests precisely, with two thirds (66%) admitting they would ignore all future marketing from a brand if it sent them hit-or miss offers.
While the findings indicate brands are struggling to get the formula right, they also demonstrate the market opportunity for businesses that put personalisation at the heart of their strategy and provide more tailored content to consumers, Emarsys claims.
When it comes to customer loyalty, over half of respondents (57%) admitted they would be more likely to repeat purchase if they received more loyalty-based discounts from a retailer, while 41% would be more likely to buy from a brand again if they received bespoke offers which were truly personalised and unique to them.
Emarsys insists that the problem that most brands encounter is that segmentation and personalisation designed and executed by marketers does not provide the level of individualisation, at volume, that consumers demand.
However, for marketing departments and brands that are mature enough and ready, AI and machine learning can scale to audiences large and small, as it learns the preferences of each individual and tailors accordingly, the company claims, adding that its research the study illustrates that consumers generally have few hang ups on the subject.
It reveals that consumers are not concerned about being marketed to by AI, provided it improves their customer experience. More than four in five (82%) are now aware of the use of AI in their shopping experience, and almost half (47%) are happy with brands using the technology instead of humans to personalise marketing experiences, if it improves the offers and recommendations they receive, with a further 43% indicating they are happy with it being used to determine what discounts they receive.
The research also showed that email (60%) is still by far the preferred channel for consumers to receive offers and recommendations, ahead of post (23%) and social media (19%).
Emarsys vice-president and and market director for the UK and Nordics Grant Coleman said: "Personalisation is the Holy Grail of good marketing, but what’s clear from this research is that marketers’ current, human-driven approach simply doesn’t scale, leading to irrevocably damaged relationships with customers and ultimately churn.
"While marketers are grappling with making sense of data sets and tech stacks, they are not fully focused on developing distinctive creative content, the sort that delights and differentiates. AI tips this balance in their favour, doing all the legwork so that communication is always tailored across every channel along the purchase lifecycle, eliminating the risk of upsetting valued customers."