Classic marketing canon holds that the four pillars of marketing strategy — better known as the 4 Ps — are product, price, place, and promotion. And while this quartet certainly continues to be important, there is a new member of the group that has grabbed the mic and become the unchallenged leader: personalization.

On today’s hyper-competitive and fragmented landscape, the power of personalization cannot be underestimated. Consider these eye-opening statistics, which clearly illustrate how truly impactful personalization is on customer experience:

  • 90% of consumers find marketing personalization somewhat or very appealing.
  • 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that offers personalized experiences.
  • 72% of consumers say that they only engage with personalized messaging.

And on the flipside, for the glass-half-empty folks among us, here are some of the chilling consequences of failing to deliver personalization:

  • 66% of consumers say that encountering generic content instead of content that is personalized stops them from making a purchase.
  • 63% of consumers will completely stop buying from brands that use inferior personalization strategies and tactics.
  • 42% of consumers say that they feel annoyed and frustrated when content is not personalized.

The challenges of delivering personalized content

Personalization is essential instead of optional, and in a growing proportion of customer engagements it is more vital than anything else — including product, price, place, and promotion. And so in light of this, why are not all organizations reaping the rewards of delivering personalized content?

There are several reasons why organizations, despite their intentions, efforts, and investments, are struggling rather than succeeding in this area. These challenges can include any or all of the following:

  • It is time consuming to set up sophisticated user segments (i.e. personas), which are then used to target and distribute content accordingly.
  • Getting started can be tedious because various personalized content platforms are excessively (and frankly, needlessly) complex, and many of the platforms have prohibitively high minimum traffic requirements.
  • There is no functional or practical way to clearly evaluate ROI and determine the value of personalization — which means marketers have to use qualitative instead of quantitative metrics to try and get more budget and resources (pro tip: CEOs and CMOs want quantitative metrics).
  • Organizations lack the in-house expertise they need to drive personalization strategies and implementation, and recruiting or training are both time consuming and costly.
  • Marketers are concerned that they will lose the “human element” on two levels: 1) they worry about being controlled by the technology vs. being in control of it, and 2) they worry that too much personalization will backfire if customers perceive that their every move is being scrutinized.

The solution: Auto Personalization

The bad news is that despite what has been promised in TV commercials, alas there is no handy smartphone app that will instantly and effortlessly help organizations overcome these challenges. However, the good news is that the next best thing is now available, and it is called Auto Personalization.

Auto Personalization leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the goal of delivering personalized content from a costly and tedious ordeal, into a powerful and ongoing competitive advantage. This is because Auto Personalization:

  • Uses machine learning to identify and categorize user groups, which means that marketers do not have to spend weeks or months struggling to do this. Everything is handled automatically on the back-end, and new data optimizes various personas (i.e. the personalization program gets smarter and better through use).
  • Is refreshingly easy to use with intuitive tools and logical workflows.
  • Accelerates time to market (TTM). This is an enormous benefit, considering that 79% of organizations miss their intended launch date for new products.
  • Enables marketers to select the most relevant metrics and KPIs, so they can rapidly evaluate time to value and justify ongoing investments using (*insert triumphant horn sound here*) quantitative numbers.
  • Retains the all-important human factor: marketing teams are liberated from mundane and repeatable tasks, and customers don’t feel as if organizations have hit the wayback-playback button and started crooning “Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you.”

Striving vs. struggling

There is no point in waiting for the “Personalization Era” to arrive: it is already here. Organizations in both the B2B and B2C spaces that implement Auto Personalization will lead the way when it comes to attracting, engaging and onboarding customers, and cultivating them into loyal, enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Conversely, organizations that overlook or ignore Auto Personalization will find themselves struggling to compete — and sooner or later, to survive.

Auto Personalization in your organization

Sitecore AI empowers your organization to deliver on the promise of personalization at scale by fast tracking time-to-value, and significantly reducing manual efforts. In addition, Sitecore AI runs completely in the cloud and there is zero on-premises footprint. Plus, there are no minimum traffic requirements, so marketers can start slow and dial up the velocity as they deem fit.

Jill Grozalsky is a Product Marketing Director at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.