February 2013 - Personalization Means Real People

What you do with your customer data is what matters most.data

Personalization means real people!

As personalization has gone mainstream, marketers are regularly sending print and email communications that speak to each recipient individually. But when you are personalizing based on information from a marketing database, it’s important to remember that there are real people on the end of the line. Good use of data can be very effective, but the poor use of data can make people uncomfortable.

One marketer caused a stir, for example, when it targeted men with a personalized communication that used their names with “Jr.” added to the end to represent the son they might have some day—if they aren’t careful. The company crafted its marketing pitch around this hypothetical son to present the need for its product. Needless to say, there were plenty of recipients who were quite uncomfortable with that approach. This is something many industry commentators call “the creepy factor.”

So how can you personalize your content in a positive way without crossing a line into the “creepy factor”? Here are three tips.
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1. Protect truly private data. There is a difference between selling educational materials and selling refinancing offers. If you’re selling educational books to children, for example, you might want to know that your neighbor down the street bought a set of the same materials. But you probably don’t want a mortgage company outing you as a good candidate for a refinancing offer, and oh by the way, three of your neighbors were, too!

2. Make sure your data is correct. Keep your data clean and updated. One company was criticized for marketing to recipients as if they were one step from a retirement home when, in fact, many of them were not even retired. Use print and online surveys to stay in touch with your customers and get to know them. Keep that data current. Nothing undermines a personalized contact faster than an incorrectly spelled name or incorrect fact!

3. Be considerate. Use the data in a way that is respectful and considerate of the person receiving it. You may not want to let the recipient know just how much you know about them right upfront. Some marketers start with name personalization, and basic targeting and segmentation before building into a truly personalized relationship.
Remember that data is just data. When it comes to personalization, it’s what you do with that data that matters. Need help making sure that your use of data is a good one? Talk to us—we’re here to help.