Growth Through Relevance

Beyond Name Personalization: Tactics That Can Work for You in 2010

If you look around you, personalization is everywhere. It’s in your e-mail inbox. It’s your name on a catalog. It’s the customized coupons printed on your grocery store receipt. But what makes personalization actually work? This is a critical question for marketers, especially if they are going to put that personalization into print.

One of the golden rules of today’s personalization is that, especially in the case of print, it goes beyond the obvious. We can do so much more than putting a person’s name on a direct mail piece these days. By moving beyond simple personalization and basic demographics-driven imagery, variable-content, targeted communications become that much more effective.

Let’s look at some of the best practices that make your personalized print pieces stand out from the clutter.

1 Start with good data.
When it comes to successful marketing, your success is only as good as your list. For this reason, having a clean, relevant database is half the battle. If you’ve never run your data through the National Change of Address (NCOA) system and the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS), this is an important first step. Every time you interact with your customers, keep that data updated. Collect additional data. Gather transactional information. Include information gathered from personalized URL campaigns, Web site feedback or customer service contacts. Centralize your data so that you have the maximum flexibility in your marketing options.

2 Use personalization to make each marketing contact relevant.
Once you have customer data, use it!  If your customer has taken  acations to Hawaii, don’t promote vacations to the Arctic. If you lease automobiles, trigger a personalized postcard promoting a new lease in advance of the expiration of the old one.

Before sending out any new campaign, ask yourself what information exists in your database that would make the customer communication more relevant. If that data doesn’t exist today, ask what information you could gather that would provide it for next time. Then put a strategy in place to get it.

3 Be remarkable.
As one marketer once put it, “You have to be absolutely remarkable to make a difference.” Good isn’t good enough anymore. You have to be great. This means putting together outstanding creative, a terrific pitch, a compelling offer and everything else that goes into great marketing. Personalization should never stand alone. It should be part of a larger strategy of exceptional marketing, where all of the elements work together to create an elevated response.

4 Track, measure and improve campaigns over time.
How do you know what’s working and what isn’t if you’re not tracking the results?  Don’t just rely on response rates to tell you whether the campaign is working.  Use additional measures like the cost per response, revenue per sale and return on investment (ROI). This will allow you to compare apples to apples, across multiple campaigns, and see where your marketing dollars are most effectively spent.

These best practices are basic but profoundly effective. Put them into use, and see how your results soar!