Make It Personal, Not Just Personalized

Friday, February 26, 2016
Make It Personal, Not Just Personalized

Hello, <Name>, we have an offer just for you!

We’ve all seen it — advertising that shamelessly plugs in your name, birthday or other personal information. The idea has been around since computerized mail merge first paved the way for the printing of personalized greetings on direct mail letters (cue the ’80s music).

As personalized advertising mediums grew to include email, print and digital channels, the use of personalization became, well, less personal. The more times a recipient’s name appeared in an ad, the more obvious it became that the ad was anything but personal.

The unintended message may have left consumers thinking, “Sure, you know how to use my name five times in a single paragraph, but do you really know anything about me as a customer?”

The takeaway? Don’t confuse personalized with personal.

Advances in database marketing and the ability to track customer behaviors helped make personalized marketing more relevant (late ’90s and early 2000s). Marketers started making sense of “big data” and leveraging more than just a customer’s name and address to communicate with them.

For example, an auto marketer could use data to determine which customers were likely to lease a new vehicle in the next year and which type of models they might be interested in driving. This would give the marketer an opportunity to create communications that were both personal and relevant.

The focus of any message should be relevancy. A truly relevant message, personalized or not, carries more influence than a message that merely starts with a recipient’s first name yet fails to engage with them.

Basing your message on a recipient’s stage in their customer life cycle or some other data trigger is one way to accomplish a more relevant message. But if you choose this option, make sure your message is timely and your data accurate.

One more tip: Always make the message about them — not you.

So now you know a bit more about the history of personalized marketing. As you approach your next marketing campaign, spend less time deciding whether your ad will be personalized. Spend more time thinking about how to make it personal.

Jeff Midgley

Content Strategist and Senior Copywriter


March 2015 – Present

Devise content strategies and write engaging copy to maximize customer engagement and value for clients. Develop communication flows and messaging strategies based on customer segmentation, market research and customer behavior.

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