Research Findings :: Global Trends in Personalization Study 

The Global Trends in Personalization Study is a collaboration between SoDA and Sitecore to assess investment plans, adoption of emerging technologies, organizational priorities and key challenges relative to delivering personalized digital consumer experiences. Data was collected in January and February of 2019 from marketing leaders and C-level executives across North American, Europe and APAC.

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Digital experience personalization is a major priority for global business leaders and investment plans for expanded capabilities are growing. 

  • 85% of marketing leaders and C-level executives say that digital experience personalization is an important facet of their marketing ecosystem with 35% indicating that they see personalization as a major competitive advantage for their business.

  • 83% increased their investments in personalization for 2019 with 32% pointing to a significant budget increase this year. 

  • The importance personalization capabilities and investment plans varied little across geographic regions, leadership roles and size of digital budget, indicating that digital experience personalization is a consistent, global priority.

Data & Analytics and Technology Platforms are top investment priorities in 2019 with no signs of slowing down through 2021.

  • Marketing leaders and C-level executives point to Data & Analytics (41%) and Technology Platforms (36%) as the Top 2 areas where they are currently investing the most money to fuel their personalization initiatives

  • Looking ahead at the next two years, investments remain focused on Data & Analytics and Technology Platforms with 38% and 33%, respectively, earmarking these areas for the most significant budget increases.

Content is a crucial element of the digital experience ecosystem and global leaders are focused on scaling their content production capabilities.

  • Producing and publishing personalized digital content more quickly and more cost-effectively is a near-unanimous priority for global leaders (> 95%) with 55% and 47%, respectively, focused on speed of delivery and efficiency as a major priority for their organization

  • Not surprisingly, challenges related to developing a more robust digital content ecosystem mirror the biggest opportunity areas: global leaders point to Speed (44%), Budget (39%) and Automation (39%) as the top pain points throttling their ability to produce and deliver more personalized digital content.  

While marketing leaders and C-level executives clearly recognize the importance of digital experience personalization, the majority appear to over-estimate their current capabilities. 

  • When it comes to digital experience personalization, 67% of global leaders rate their organizations as “Masters” or “Experts” with robust and advanced levels of personalization capabilities. 

  • Though rating themselves highly in terms of organizational maturity, less than 40% utilize even the most basic targeting criteria for personalization: Purchase History (38%), Browsing History (28%), Referral Source (24%) and Session Click-stream Data (20%).

  • Less than 45% are leveraging AI-capabilities for crucial functions such as automating routine tasks, improving content targeting, becoming more responsive to user actions or scenario planning. 

  • Less than one-third of leaders rate their personalization capabilities as “Advanced” in any crucial sales and communication channel (Web, Mobile, Email, Call Center, In-Store Experience, Online Advertising or Cross-Channel Integration). 

Global leaders have identified many of the crucial priorities necessary for digital experience personalization but most still lack the strategic plans, data practices, platform capabilities and budgets necessary to accelerate and enhance their capabilities. 

  • 52% currently lack an adequate roadmap and strategic investment plan for the personalization capabilities. 

  • Lack of budget (40%), limited platform capabilities (37%), channel complexity (37%) and data (35%) are significant barriers standing in the way of enhanced personalization. 

  • Data & Analytics is a top priority but nearly 50% of leaders do not view testing and measurement as a major priority while data Automation (44%), Accuracy (40%), Fragmentation (39%) and Interpretation (39%) represent significant challenges.

  • Organizational practices and priorities for data privacy significantly lag– just 35% say that data privacy is a major priority for their business and only 32% are actively improving their processes relative to data privacy despite the fact that nearly 80% admit to experiencing some level of data breach at their organizations 

Download a copy of the FULL research summary here:


About the Author: Tom Beck is Executive Director of SoDA and works closely with its membership, Board of Directors and corporate partners to create an indispensable global network for digital business leaders, creative visionaries and technology disruptors.