How to Use Personalization Data (Without Hiring an Egghead)

Versioning, Segmentation, Database Marketing, One-to-One-Marketing, Personalization, Transpromo, Variable Data Printing, etc. Anyone associated with customer communications for any length of time is probably familiar with all these terms. The latest buzz word is Big Data.

All these methods or strategies are a little different from one another, but the idea is the same. Use information we know about individuals or groups to present them with messages relevant to them. Using data in this manner is extremely important and getting more urgent all the time.

In the 1970’s consumers receiving computer letters with their names inserted into the text were impressed. Now, thanks to experiences with companies like Amazon, Facebook, or Google your customers expect you to use information about them to tailor messages and offers aligned with their needs and interests. This is especially true if they provided personal information about themselves or have done business with you in the past.

Big Data doesn’t require a PhD

Big data can be intimidating, but most companies don’t need to personalize customer messaging to the Amazon level to make a big difference in response rates, conversions, and customer relationships. Using some simple techniques and planning, your communications can rise above the stigma of mass mail and produce better results.

Getting out of the “one size fits all” mindset is the first step. Sending everyone on the list the same marketing copy, graphics, and offer made sense back when the economies of commercial printing demanded large quantities of identical material. In a digital printing environment, composing different pages for every recipient has no impact on print costs. Use the advancements in printing technology to your advantage by designing marketing pieces that use bits of data like the longevity of a customer or their gender to craft a message with variable text, images, and offers that match an individual’s profile.

Vary the offer

You could, for instance, use higher-value offers to attract customers living further away from a store. Nearby prospects won’t need as great an incentive. Another business might advertise stoves and dishwashers to homeowners, but toasters and blenders to apartment dwellers. Using easily-acquired data like travel distance or dwelling type, businesses of all kinds can make their printed material more compelling.

Amazon got lots of attention when they started using customer book-browsing and buying activity to suggest other titles a customer might enjoy. Often though, less sophisticated techniques can be just as effective. Does your company sell items with a predictable lifespan? Contacting customers near that replacement threshold with a relevant offer can be advantageous.

Vary the timing

Let’s say your business is tree pruning and you know how fast different trees grow and what time of year to prune them. A simple date calculation counting forward from the last service date can result in a reminder to customers with fast-growing trees at one interval and customers with slow-growing trees at another, for instance. Personalized pruning offers arrive at just the right time and the tree-trimming people look like geniuses!

Advancements in printing technology and software have made it possible to create high-quality personalized documents at nominal cost. The next great leap in direct mail effectiveness will be the accumulation and exploitation of customer data to communicate more effectively. The time to start using that data strategically is now.

How are you using personalization in your direct mail campaigns? We would love to hear about your experience or answer any questions you may have.

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