Per­son­al­iza­tion is a sym­bi­otic rela­tion­ship. On one side you, the mar­keter, are pro­vid­ing a spot-on expe­ri­ence for con­sumers that makes them feel under­stood, val­ued, and con­nected. It’s a pos­i­tive engage­ment that’s bor­der­line elec­tric for the vis­i­tor. Don’t you get a lit­tle jolt when you’re served up an arti­cle, prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tion, or email that’s per­fectly aligned with your wants and needs?

On the other side are the con­sumers who, in exchange for this warm and fuzzy expe­ri­ence, reward you with more mean­ing­ful engage­ment, quicker con­ver­sions, higher cart val­ues, increased spend, and ongo­ing loy­alty. They’re happy with the rel­e­vant expe­ri­ence you’ve deliv­ered. They dive in deeper. You col­lect more data points and cre­ate greater rel­e­vance. The cycle con­tin­ues. That’s the per­son­al­iza­tion payoff.

The pay­off for brands and organizations

Cross-channel con­sumers expect rel­e­vance when they come to your site. Nearly nine in ten con­sumers say that per­son­al­iza­tion has some impact on their pur­chas­ing deci­sions. Over­all, nearly two-thirds of com­pa­nies that are out­pac­ing the com­pe­ti­tion lever­age automa­tion sys­tems. That’s not a coin­ci­dence, either—nearly 80 per­cent of high-performing mar­keters indi­cated that these sys­tems have boosted rev­enue. We saw sim­i­lar results in our 2014 Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Opti­miza­tion Sur­vey, which polled more than 1,000 respon­dents glob­ally. The top 20 per­cent in terms of per­for­mance expe­ri­enced con­ver­sion rates of 4.5 per­cent or more, 1.7 times the 2.6 per­cent aver­age across the group.

That’s just the tip of the per­son­al­iza­tion pay­off ice­berg. Lead­ers in this dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion are reap­ing unpar­al­leled ben­e­fits, wind­ing up 26 per­cent more prof­itable over­all, with a 12 per­cent greater mar­ket capitalization.

The per­son­al­iza­tion pay­off is mas­sive. How­ever, even if you’re already engaged in some level of rel­e­vance deliv­ery, be it ad hoc or deeply inte­grated, you could likely be doing more: one-third of con­sumers want greater per­son­al­iza­tion in their e-commerce expe­ri­ences. Nearly two-thirds of loyalists—consumers with strong brand rela­tion­ships and affinities—cited “shared val­ues” as their core rea­son for deep engage­ment. But just 23 per­cent said they have a rela­tion­ship like that with a brand.

For any dig­i­tal brand, meet­ing exist­ing con­sumer demand—increasing per­son­al­iza­tion efforts and deliv­er­ing more rel­e­vant experiences—is far more prof­itable to your bot­tom line than acquir­ing and cul­ti­vat­ing new ones. Reduc­ing attri­tion by just 5 per­cent can boost prof­its by 25 per­cent to 80 per­cent. Sears Hold­ing Cor­po­ra­tion loy­alty mem­bers account for 70 per­cent of sales, and the brand expe­ri­ences a 25 per­cent growth in cross-channel sales annually.

Your brand likely has a 5–20 per­cent chance of sell­ing to a new prospect ver­sus 60–70 per­cent for an exist­ing con­sumer. Com­pound that with the fact that, on aver­age, 55 per­cent of mar­ket­ing bud­gets are spent on new cus­tomer acqui­si­tion, and it’s no sur­prise that increas­ing loy­alty among exist­ing users can reduce costs by as much as 10 percent.

Go one step fur­ther and imple­ment auto­mated approaches for fuel­ing per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences and you’ll more suc­cess­fully gen­er­ate 50 per­cent more leads—at a 33 per­cent lower cost, on aver­age. And busi­nesses that auto­mate the lead-management sys­tem see a rev­enue increase of 10 per­cent or greater in 6–9 months. Another cost sav­ings? Mar­ket­ing cre­ative. Automa­tion is esti­mated to save brands 15 per­cent on cre­ative production.

Get­ting started

So if the pay­off is so great, what’s hold­ing brands back? Dif­fer­ing data sources and met­rics remains a major issue, as does sim­ply not know­ing where to start or not hav­ing the time to imple­ment. Bench­mark­ing is a good place to begin, and we’ve got a solid self-assessment tool to help you with that.

Another chal­lenge is over­com­ing the ini­tial hur­dle of get­ting to know the cus­tomers. My advice? Just ask them what they want. Sixty-four per­cent of mar­keters agree that there’s been a shift toward increased con­sumer will­ing­ness to pro­vide per­sonal infor­ma­tion in exchange for tar­geted offers and rel­e­vant benefits.

Get­ting started can be much sim­pler than you’re antic­i­pat­ing. Busi­nesses of any size and scale can inte­grate geolo­ca­tion, serv­ing up rel­e­vant rec­om­men­da­tions based on a visitor’s loca­tion. It’s sim­ple, but it’s highly effec­tive. One com­pany uti­liz­ing Adobe technology—an invest­ment con­tent site—realized a 579 per­cent return on invest­ment (ROI) by imple­ment­ing just this strategy.

Another Adobe partner—a pop­u­lar travel site—reports see­ing a 62 per­cent increase in book­ings among exist­ing mem­bers by sim­ply per­son­al­iz­ing ban­ner con­tent when they returned to the site. Another part­ner reports increas­ing cross-sell con­ver­sions by 450 per­cent by using data to drive per­son­al­ized offers. A lead­ing out­door com­pany boosted rev­enue per vis­i­tor (RPV) by 4 per­cent by per­son­al­iz­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on the home­page. Tak­ing it a step fur­ther, an elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­turer used auto­mated per­son­al­iza­tion to deter­mine what to show vis­i­tors in their promi­nent home­page hero spot and shop mod­ules, and reports real­iz­ing a 109 per­cent increase in aver­age RPV across all prod­uct categories.

The pay­off for consumers

Per­son­al­iza­tion doesn’t just ben­e­fit the orga­ni­za­tion. Users feel empow­ered, appre­ci­ated, and under­stood. More than three in five con­sumers feel more pos­i­tively about a brand when the pro­mo­tional out­reach and mar­ket­ing mes­sages they receive are per­son­al­ized. Nearly 60 per­cent agree that e-commerce sites that per­son­al­ize con­sumer expe­ri­ences make it “eas­ier to find the prod­ucts that are most inter­est­ing.” Read: most rel­e­vant.

That should come as no sur­prise in this rela­tion­ship era of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Con­sumers want con­ve­nience, com­fort, and a sense of belonging—that’s the real pay­off for them. From a con­ve­nience end, serv­ing up rel­e­vant con­tent or prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions is great, as is cap­tur­ing ship­ping, billing, and pay­ment infor­ma­tion so they can zip through check­out when they do con­vert. Sixty per­cent of shop­pers like when an e-commerce site remem­bers that infor­ma­tion. Take it a step fur­ther and offer an even eas­ier path to con­ver­sion, such as Amazon’s “Buy now with 1-Click®” button.

Brands look­ing to get started need to under­stand con­sumers’ pri­or­i­ties when it comes to per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ence. Nearly 70 per­cent indi­cated email was a key spot for personalization—and two in five say they buy more from brands that send them per­son­al­ized emails—followed by 44 per­cent who flagged per­son­al­ized social media expe­ri­ences as a must. If you need to sort your pro­mo­tional roll out, these are both crit­i­cal plat­forms, and can deliver those key short-term wins that drive greater insti­tu­tional buy in.

Look­ing out across the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing land­scape, noth­ing right now seems to be as rel­e­vant as relevance—creating it, har­ness­ing it, lever­ag­ing it, and find­ing the sites that offer more of it. Brands that can tap into this rel­e­vance are reap­ing the major ben­e­fit that almost always comes with it: the per­son­al­iza­tion pay­off.  It’s a two-way street, for sure, a highly coop­er­a­tive brand-to-consumer rela­tion­ship. The orga­ni­za­tion wins with increased ROI; and users win with big­ger, bet­ter, faster, more spot-on expe­ri­ences that keep them com­ing back. And the pay­off continues.