We talk a lot about personalized marketing at IWCO Direct, including last week’s post from Alan Sherman on best practices when using personal information. One-to-one marketing is the way of the future—and technology is catching up to our desire to market to every consumer in a personalized, meaningful way. But personalization is only effective when it’s done well.
Do it wrong, and you get angry customers, like Ashley Leone after particularly poor service when trying to buy a car. On the flip side, there are plenty of companies who are able to do it right. Walgreens’ recent campaign, for example, successfully used personalized thank you cards to show members how much their loyalty was appreciated and generated an estimated $1 million in incremental sales.
Our own Debora Haskel wrote a blog on the impact a personalized card from Chewy had on her loyalty to the brand. Personalized marketing, when done right, has a huge impact on how consumers see your brand. And, in case you missed it, these are not tiny brands who only have to manage a small list of recipients—these are large retailers who have cracked the code on how to have their personalization efforts work smarter, not harder.
Start with Your Sender
When evaluating your own personalized marketing efforts, don’t stop with what you know about your prospects. Also consider how you want them to think about you. For instance, start by looking at whose signature appears on your letters. Is it the CEO? The company president? Is it believable that someone with that level of responsibility would be sending a letter? Not likely. While it seems like sending a mailpiece from someone more local—dare I say less important in the company organizational structure—may show the recipient that they are less valued, the opposite is true.
Sending mail from a local community member adds a level of familiarity and trust to any communication. Larger companies who have local offices benefit from sending letters from a specific sender because it repositions the piece from being a mass-produced advertisement to a thoughtful letter from a local service that cares about its consumers. In cases like that, it’s a win-win—you’re marketing the stability and credibility of a large, established company while showing that you’re customer-focused and local enough to make doing business easy.
Consider using a personal sender in situations where you tout personal, customized products or services, customer-service focused benefits, or local services to give your messaging credibility. As a bonus, sending mail from a real person jump-starts the conversation between your company and the recipient because it establishes a contact for the prospect and begins a relationship between the two.
Add Design Elements That Sell
Support the idea of a personal letter with the design. There are plenty of ways design can help a piece appear more personal. Adding notes in the margin of a letter in a handwritten font, using a “marker” to draw arrows, underline, and circle important information, or highlighting text can all add a personal touch. These elements make the piece appear as if someone took the time to sit down and mark up a few things for the recipient. We’ve used this on more official letters, too—it’s believable to an audience that John Doe at Company X printed out a corporate letter, but then took a minute to emphasize a few items that pertain to his offerings or your unique needs.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, including mistakes can also suggest a personal sender. Crossed out words, doodles, even coffee stains are all extra elements that transform a mailpiece from being bland and corporate to personal and endearing. Normally, no one would send a letter that has mistakes in it, or one that’s stained—it’s just unprofessional—but when it comes to mail in a digital age, it adds an element of the human touch that consumers crave.
Keep Your Copy Conversational
When your copy sounds too polished, it comes off as forced. Use a conversational tone, commonly known acronyms or slang to turn the letter into a conversation (of course, make sure these don’t risk offending and doing more harm than good). Using language that connotes exclusivity (“This is only going to select members”) or time sensitivity (“Hurry! This deal ends soon!”) gives purpose to a personal letter. After all, if the number of recipients actually is small (exclusive), or if the message is very important (time-sensitive), it’s reasonable that someone would be willing to sit down and write a few letters.
It’s also important that the copy continues to enforce the local or personal nature of the service that’s being offered. Including references to local geography, landmarks, weather, or other regional interests grounds the letter to a place in the world and shows a familiarity with the lifestyle, culture, and surroundings of the mail recipient. If you can include some of these elements into the design, all the better: maps showing directions to a store or office, photos using local landscapes, or even adding a business card of the sender to the mailpiece all add to the personal nature of the correspondence.
Personalized Marketing Doesn’t Mean Doing It Alone
Marketing campaigns can be overwhelming and trying to create a personalized one adds another level of stress to the situation. But “personalized” doesn’t mean you personally have to do all the work. IWCO Direct’s strategy team, creative services, and production capabilities make the process so simple that the only personalization you need to do on your own is the signature at the end of the letter.
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