How not to personalise your next marketing email

By Kathy Salter, @Marketsoft

‘Dear Kathy’ the email started. Well, there’s hope, I thought, optimistically. I’ve received a few ‘Dear ,’ emails recently from organisations that should know better.

Marketers, let’s face it, are not the easiest people to engage. We analyse the email at the same time as deciding sceptically whether or not to be charmed. Of course, the poor hapless department store that emailed me recently doesn’t have a clue what I do for a living. They know about my shopping habits, and that’s all that is relevant here.

So I read on. Things went downhill from there. The offer was positioned as one that the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine fan’ in my family would be excited by, announcing the latest blue moulded plastic delight to be released in store.

Well, I have purchased Thomas toys. I have two boys. Goes with the territory. However, I have two boys aged seven and ten who have had no interest in Thomas since they were three or four. My store card history would have showed that. And I’m receiving an offer now? Toot toot.

As well as being another harsh lesson in the need for speed and agility in trigger marketing, the email illustrated another important point for marketers. Superficial personalisation doesn’t cut it anymore. Just using someone’s name and a few other scattered pieces of information about them is meaningless and appears gimmicky. Instead we need to pay serious attention to behavioural data and use it to drive insights into what our customers are going to do and want next.

I loved the infographic below from the Economist Intelligence Unit, looking at the gap between what delights, engages and ultimately influences customers versus what marketers are actually doing.

The EIU found that 70% of consumers find marketers’ attempts at personalisation superficial and 63% say that they no longer respond to it. 33% of consumers name superficial personalisation as one of the most annoying aspects of digital marketing.

Before it was common, simple personalisation did achieve some cut through. Now it’s just the starting point. Without real insights into what is important to the customer, based on behavioural data, personalisation becomes irritating and irrelevant. Customers are no longer going to respond when they see their first names sprayed all over a one-size-fits-all communication. Did they ever?

Behavioural data, intelligently analysed, not just the customer’s demographic profile, is what gives marketers the power to understand the communications, goods and services their customers want and respond to. Insurers can learn why policyholders are likely to lapse or when an increase in cover is appropriate, charities can know how and when to communicate with donors and department stores can make the right new product offer to their customers.

A customer-centric world that has to be good for business.

Mind the digital marketing gap