Personalization has been the marketer’s holy grail for a long time.
From 1998-2002 I instructed the Integrated Marketing Communications course at the University of Washington. The first few years, I used The One-to-One Future by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers as one of my textbooks.
Of course, one of the key messages of the book centered on making messaging more personalized. “Dear Patrick” is way better than “Dear Customer,” after all.
Permission Marketing was another one of my texts. It raised the bar and said that every message you send must be “anticipated, personal and relevant.”
Now, technology has made it easy to personalize email marketing messages, web landing pages, direct mail, and more. Promotional items have been personalized for years, but the options today are mind-boggling.
Viral online games that you can personalize by uploading your own photos are now mainstream.
Here’s a video about my run for the Presidency that shows just how far you can go with personalization:
Most consumers prefer personalized messages, and personalization increases open rates, response rates and just about every metric that matters to marketers.
Should you start personalizing all your marketing messages?
Well, yes and no.
Personalization often backfires. My wife’s name is Arden, and I can’t tell you how many pieces of mail she gets calling her “Mr. Arden Byers.”
Privacy is a concern. Get too personal and consumers get nervous. You’d surely received the mortgage refinance letters that know exactly what you owe? “They know too much about me – that’s creepy,” is a common response. Personally, I get angry.
Personalized isn’t necessarily personal. Simply inserting someone’s first name after the word “Dear” may not be enough.
Today, Freddy Nager wrote an interesting post regarding the way rock bands, and in the case, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails connects with his fans.
His comments regarding personalization got my juices flowing and are the inspiration for this post.
No, the letter doesn’t address me by name, but fans are savvy enough to know that no rock star can personally address millions of fans, so Reznor simply avoids that pretense.
(Junk mailers take note: just because you use my first name in the salutation doesn’t make me think it’s personal.)
At the same time, he writes in first person, addresses the reader as “you,” and speaks to them in a casual, uncensored way.
Compare that to the emails many of us get from corporations: “Dear Freddy, We at Humongoloid Bank Inc. want to thank our customers for another record year…”
Chew on that for a minute, then tell me, while personalization matters now, how long do you think it will be before consumers get “personalization fatigue?”
Put another way, how long before marketing personalization becomes so prevalent it becomes irrelevant?
Comment below to share your thoughts.