audienceEngage your customers and create loyal fans by following these best practices in 1:1 printing.

If you want great marketing results, it’s important to personalize your message. This means personalizing text, images, and other content based on what you know about the recipient. But just dropping in data-driven content doesn’t guarantee success. We’ve all gotten mail pieces that were “personalized” in a way that didn’t make a difference. Sometimes personalizing someone’s name can boost response rates. Other times, it doesn’t. Sometimes the offer is great, but the design is so uninteresting that nobody reads it. In other cases, the headline is snappy and the design is great, but there is no incentive for people to respond.

Let’s look at three best practices that need to be the foundation of all 1:1 print marketing.

1. Traditional marketing rules apply.
1:1 might be personalized marketing, but it is still good old-fashioned marketing, too. For this reason, traditional rules hold true. Ultimately, it is all of the elements — the creative, the message (including personalization), the offer, the segmentation, the call to action, and the incentive — that need to come together to determine success.

2. Focus on relevance, not “personalization.”
It doesn’t matter how “personalized” a document is. If it isn’t relevant to the person receiving it, it is worthless. Take the shoe market. Clearly, you don’t want to market orthopedic shoes to teenagers. You can personalize the document to the hilt—deck it out with text messaging terms, pictures of X-Games, and use all the contemporary lingo — but it’s not a relevant message unless a teen needs to purchase a birthday present for grandpa. It’s an extreme example, but you get the point.

3. Get to know your customers, then market to what you know.
The more you know your customers, the more relevant your message can be. When the National Hockey League began 1:1 communication with its customers, for example, it asked them to fill out a survey that indicated, among other things, where they lived and their favorite hockey team. It discovered that 40% of its fan base lives outside their favorite team’s home market. That means these fans can’t easily go to games or access highlights. Imagine the opportunity for the league!

So ask yourself, what don’t you know about your customers now that might allow you to create relevance in a more powerful way later? To find out, do a customer mail or email survey. Conduct a focus group. Set up survey forms on your website. Use what you know to speak directly to the needs and interests of your customers.

Think “Database”
To make all this happen, you need to invest in your database. This takes time, dedicated resources, and manpower, but it is one of the most important capital investments you can make. Develop a basic database, then refine it, add variables, and keep it clean and updated. Make sure all of the new information you gather goes back into the database to be used in future marketing programs.

Remember, personalization is a powerful tool, but in order to get the big pay-off, it cannot work alone.