Mail advertisers have achieved response lifts of 200% and more by using database-generated messages tailored to the history and interests of the recipient. Yet a recent study indicates that 82.9% of them at most use only moderate personalization in their direct mail. Only 17.1% of advertisers use extensive personalization.
Like any development that involves changes in methods, however, personalization is facing the inertia of business as usual and the strangeness of a new technology.
Here are six pointers on personalization:
Relevance is vital.
Regardless of personalization’s bells and whistles, make sure that your copy is relevant to your reader’s situation. Stress the benefits you offer, not your ability to call him by his first name.
Salt your message with variable data often – but wisely.
Letters that name the recipient at the beginning of most paragraphs are clumsy, obvious, and usually depress readership.
Peter Schoewe of the Mal Warwick organization writes, “I like to keep personalized salutations close to the word ‘you,’ wherever it may fall.”
For instance, he advises, a sentence that begins, “I am writing to you, Mr. Smith, ...” likely will pull better responses than one that starts, “Mr. Smith, I am writing to you ...” Whenever you can, Schoewe counsels, use personalization in your letter’s postscript.
Cite the nature and amount of your recipient’s latest order – with thanks.
Sales prospects like to feel that they are doing business with someone they know. Try something like, “My company certainly appreciates your order of Month, Date for XXX widgets. As a special reward for investing $XXX in our products, Mr. Smith, I offer you the opportunity of purchasing another high-quality product from us in this $YYY money-saving offer.”
Ask for a review.
“It will help us serve you better in the future,” Mr. Smith, if you mailed back the enclosed evaluation. “Tell us about your experience with my company. Was the sales person who contacted you knowledgeable, efficient, and polite? Did the widget you purchased satisfy your needs? Please tell me how we can improve.”
Make sure your database is up to snuff.
Hell hath no fury like a recipient whose name you misspell.
Make your mailing package personal.
Don’t print an illusion-shattering address block – or, worse, a bar-coded headline – at the top of your sales letter. The same goes for a Johnson box or other design element that screams “Ad!” If you and your recipient already know each other, “Dear Fred” works better than “Dear Mr. Smith.”
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