Inflation, shipping supplies, budget cuts, and even privacy-related changes from Apple all contributed to a challenging 2021 for retail brands. One of the largest challenges marketers faced was leveraging personalization to connect with customers on a deeper level. 

Research shows that 91% of customers would rather shop with a brand that communicates with them on the channels they desire. Personalization has been proven to be one of the most effective marketing strategies.

This post covers highlights from a recent roundtable of various retailers hosted by Emarsys and Retail Gazette on what marketers experienced in 2021 – plus the future of marketing in 2022.

The Power of Personalization

According to our research, 85% of retail marketers believe that personalization is vital to creating better customer experiences and increasing revenue. Personalization is the key to driving revenue by enticing customers to make repeat purchases and improving loyalty. 

“It should be about treating people differently across the lifecycle. Those who have a team who understand the data and have in-depth knowledge of customer behavior will win.” 

Ashley Payne
Ashley Payne
Chief Marketing Officer, Ideal Shopping Direct

As marketers wade through their zero- and first-party data, having the time and the right technology in place to truly understand each and every customer is a tall order. Additionally, marketers have more responsibilities than ever – they are now in charge of customer experience, branding, customer acquisition, and much more.

Team & Task Outsourcing 

Research from Emarsys shows that there are significant time constraints on teams as 57% of marketers believe they don’t have enough time to do their jobs properly each day. 

“Our research shows us that the role of marketing has never been so complex – with those in retail marketing roles needing to balance a whole host of new functions. From customer experience, brand, and digital marketing, to CRM, customer retention, and much more, it’s a complicated job. And with the breadth of marketing and commerce channels needed to create customer touchpoints is also stretching marketers to the limit, there’s need for more outside support, new tech and automation.”

Fergus Walsh
Fergus Walsh
Sales Manager, Emarsys

As marketing leaders have been filling roles for recently vacated positions, teams are considering whether to outsource even more to alleviate resource issues. 

Deciding what to outsource and finding the right partner to fulfill the work is not easy as it might seem. 

One of the biggest factors in outsourcing is finding a partner that aligns not just with the current needs of a company, but where that organization would like to be in the future. In essence, brands must find someone who can grow with them. 

Going Forward Together in 2022

Steve Jobs believed in the power of unplanned collaboration. When helping to design the Pixar campus, he made certain the atrium served as the central hub as he believed that chance encounters with colleagues could be an opportunity for sharing ideas that would benefit Pixar.

“If a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”

— Steve Jobs

This philosophy is actually correct, according to a study from the Harvard Business School and Cornerstone. When workers collaborated with each other, they found that a company could end up with up to $1 million in profit each year and an increase in employee performance of up to 15%. In contrast, if the wrong workers are paired together, there’s a 27% chance that one of them will be fired.    

Soon, when permitted, retail marketing teams may once again be working alongside each other, bouncing around ideas and collaborating on a variety of projects. As a majority of marketing teams have been remote since 2020, this year may be a time when teams gather together at a specified time each month or even each week to see this collaboration come to fruition. 


As marketing teams experienced several road bumps last year, one thing remains constant: connecting with customers through personalization is vital to growth. This is likely to remain the same in 2022.

As brands continue to adopt new and innovative ways to personalize their content, companies who are able to do this at scale will continue winning over customers at the expense of the competition. 

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