As marketers, we understand the impact of “personalization”. The April issue of Direct Marketing News shines a spotlight on the topic by highlighting several brands’ takes on the subject and how each has succeeded at implementing it across different marketing channels — all online.
Left unmentioned was personalization used in offline channels and prospecting. Yet it’s entirely possible with today’s digital printing technology and access to highly insightful prospect data.
Bedazzling with Digital Printing
Short runs and quick turnaround times aren’t the only advantages digital printing has to offer. Variable data printing (VDP) gives you a lot of flexibility to create truly custom mail pieces; but too often marketers fail to take full advantage of this capability. They ‘personalize’ only so far as to place a name in large type, a special font, or standout color. Sometimes you see a raster effect, making the name look like it’s part of an image.
Unfortunately, bedazzling someone’s name isn’t quite what we mean by personalization.
Personalization is about leveraging data to create a one-to-one communication (or as close to that as possible). The payoff is impressive. Where static mail pieces may only get a response rate of 1-4%, personalized pieces often see double-digit responses — sometimes exceeding 30%.
If used correctly, the more data you have, the more personalized your mail piece can be and the more likely you are to receive a response. But don’t get creepy. Be smart about the data you have and how you use it — especially when marketing to prospects.
Design with Data
In most cases, you won’t (or shouldn’t) directly communicate the data you have about a prospect. Instead, it’s how you use the data to indirectly communicate to prospects that will offer the greatest impact. Basic address data will give you a name, but don’t stop there.
Layer on demographic information, such as age and gender.
- Use age to assess the readability of your piece. Will an older person need readers to see it?
- Use gender data to vary colors, imagery or tone.
Layer on lifestyle and interest data, such as hobbies and purchases.
- What would your mail piece look like for a person who enjoys the theatre versus a person who enjoys racecar driving?
- How might you communicate to a luxury brand purchaser?
- What aspects of your product or service would resonate with a “green” shopper?
Put a cap on the number of variations you can reasonably manage, then look at the data — particularly interest and lifestyle data — to identify segments that you can vary the creative towards.