Knowing the Difference between Personal and Personalized

We have the technical ability to personalize every email and direct mail piece that we send. Using it to send targeted promotions is smart marketing, but it isn’t personal.

Sometimes I call the sending of email campaigns “blasts”. One such comment I made annoyed a fellow blogger. He said that email campaigns should be targeted and not “blasts”. I responded by chuckling.

His comments reminded me of the direct marketing industry’s efforts to stop people from calling unsolicited mail “junk”. Even though I am a long time member of the industry,I failed that directive, too. When my mailbox is filled with direct mail pieces, the words “junk mail” slip from my lips.

It doesn’t mean that the mail is unwanted or will be unread. It just means that my box didn’t include the letter I was seeking.

Effective marketing campaigns are carefully targeted.

Companies that use email and direct mail marketing are failing themselves and their customers if they send the same promotions to everyone on their list. The messages need to be personalized.

Personalization of catalog mailings is limited to inkjet messages on the cover and the occasional insert. Email marketing is different. Using historical data and “insert _____ here” technology, you can create highly targeted emails. Some recipients may even think they are personal. They’re not.

Personal messages build relationships. They are communication between two people that have a connection. They are not a template that has an infinite list of possibilities.

Sending personal messages from a company to customers or prospects is more expensive than personalized pieces. While it is cost prohibitive for most promotional campaigns, it is essential for the customer service department.

The best service companies find the right balance between personalized and personal.

Their marketing messages are personalized. Their responses to inquiries are personal. They don’t send boilerplate information in an effort to reduce handling time and costs. They understand that the difference between a loyal customer and one time buyer is the effort they make to connect.

If you want proof that personal touches affect lifetime value (LTV), try this test:

  • Select a group of customers who have received personal assistance from your team. (Make sure that the customers were satisfied with the results.)
  • Choose a group of customers with similar attributes who didn’t receive personal assistance.
  • Compare the lifetime value between the two groups. In most cases, the customers with the personal assistance have a significantly higher value. The exceptions occur with companies who try to minimize the personal contact between employees and customers.

Make sure that your company has the right balance between personal and personalized. Your customers and prospects will appreciate the effort. Your reward is increased loyalty and sales.

For more information on how to improve your email marketing, read:

Email Optimization: How Simple Changes Increase Open Rates, Click Through, Response, & Average Order Size

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