When personalization goes wrong

February 16th, 2016 | by Steve Falk, President of Prime Data |

“Half of my marketing budget is wasted. I just wish I knew which half.”

It’s an old lament moaned by anyone who’s ever found it challenging to measure their results.

Fortunately, the smart marketer’s dollar is spent on measurable campaigns — especially in this age of data, when we we’ve never known more about our customers and markets.

Our systems are sometimes full of hundreds of separate data points that go well beyond who they are and where they live. We often know what keywords they used to get to our site, the searches they ran while browsing, the product pages they visited and ultimately what they bought.

This history can go back years.

So when a company sends out any sort of communication — email or print — there can be no excuse for not segmenting and customizing that communication to each recipient.

Anything less is a waste of your marketing budget.

A good case in point is a piece of admail I received a few weeks back from an organization that should be targeting more carefully..

Take a look.

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If you don’t know anything about me, then you might not spot any issues.

But this company, a senior’s retirement community, knows who they are targeting. Or, at least, they should know — and they missed their mark with me.  When personalization goes wrong it can have the opposite of the intended effect. It can sully an organization’s reputation. Case in point, I opened this card, personally addressed to me, and found not only an offer for someone at least 20 years older than myself, but visually directed towards women.

It’s a bit disappointing. Especially knowing what I do about variable data printing and the importance of clean data.  As a marketer, you can do better than this. If you’re not aware of how VDP can be put to work, watch our 1.5 minute video showing how easy direct mail personalization is now.

If I’m the only misfire, then it’s not a huge deal. But there is a cost. A cost of production. A cost for delivery. Now imagine a list of thousands or tens of thousands of names. Scale this one incident up and you can quickly see valuable marketing dollars disappearing down the toilet.

So which half of your marketing budget is wasted? It’s the half spent sending wrongly targeted communications to clients, donors and prospects.  

Get your data right and you’ll not only save money, you’ll be able to effectively engage your audience and see an upswing in your marketing ROI.

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