Many years ago, Newsweek magazine was one of the first advertisers to send out a mailing featuring personalized (variable) printing. Its mailing addressed recipients with a variable fill that repeated the addressee’s name six or seven times in different areas of the mailing.
Unfortunately, the Newsweek mailer often misspelled the recipient’s last name. Which effectively cancelled out the power of personalization to pull in orders. The lesson to be learned: technology does not replace the thought process.
Variable-printed mailers, with the addressee’s name spelled right, can pay off handsomely. Some advertisers, however, fail to exploit the full order-generating power of individualized direct mail. Here are six tips on massaging database information to personalize direct mail effectively:
Use last-name personalization when you have not connected with the recipient earlier. “Mr. William Adams” is the polite way to direct mail to a stranger. Any attempt to come off as less formal might be construed as presumptuous. Which equals no sale.
First-name personalization is best used when you already have established a relationship with a customer. When your addressee already has bought from you, try “Dear William” or even “Dear Bill.”
Personalize by prefix or suffix. When making an offer to a physician or a dentist, for instance, write “Dear Dr. Adams.” Then start your copy with something like, “As a medical doctor, I think that you will benefit from ... .”
Cite your recipient’s state in your letter copy, with words such as “Medical malpractice costs are out of control in Pennsylvania.”
Specify the date and amount of the person’s latest transaction with you. Say something like “I have good news for you. Though the cost of our widget will rise for other people, you can buy one now, with our thanks, for the same $19.95 you paid last September 20th.”
Recognize the customer’s interest with copy like “Here is the update you asked me for on the Gulf Coast’s rebuilding from the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe ten years ago in 2005.” Can you personalize without an accurate database? No. So, for best response rates with your future mailings, pay attention to your marketing database. Make sure it always is up to date. And that you harvest the right information from every customer in the first place. And do not shoot yourself in the foot by misspelling names.
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