For Text Marketing, Personalization is the True Killer App


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Increase response rates by moving beyond “Hello <NAME>”

Dale Carnegie, best-selling author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, once coined a saying that all successful salespeople know instinctively, “There is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name.”

Most promotional emails have some degree of personalization in the subject line, usually something along the lines of “Hello <NAME>.” But this is just scraping the surface of the true potential in personalization. While using “Hello <NAME>” increases email open rates, this technique’s effectiveness in digital marketing has been diluted by overuse. While remembering names in person is difficult, pulling it from a database to include in digital marketing campaigns is trivially easy. Now that it’s commonplace, “Hello <NAME>” is no longer remarkable and suffers declining rates of return.

If marketers want to continue to enjoy above-average digital engagement rates, it will require diving deeper than this once tried-and-true tactic. While open rates increase with personalized subject lines, segmented campaigns that are personalized to meet individual’s particular interests and needs have been shown to drive up to a 760% increase in revenue. To remain effective, marketing professionals need to take the time to get to know their customers’ habits, values, interests, and wants so they can tailor a product or pitch to meet that unmet need. Further, after the pitch is crafted, the delivery needs to be perfectly timed for maximum impact.

Taking the Time to Personalize

For this reason, personalization is one of the top retail marketing buzzwords, cited by influential analyst Mary Meeker in her 2016 Internet Trends report as vital for capturing the Millennial shopping audience.

Many online retailers such as Amazon and others are already offering a high level of personalization in their marketing efforts. They’ve moved beyond the “one-size-fits-all” marketing strategy to provide their customers with personalized product recommendations specific to particular individuals— providing relevant content and offers to prospects based on their previous behavior.

That last part of that is key. To be successful, marketers must follow what their customers do, rather than what they say. If a customer has a long history of browsing and purchasing lawn care products, it’s likely they will be more interested in a lawnmower than a bestselling novel. Personalization gives marketers the ability to get the relevant product to the correct customer.

If this sounds like more work, you’re right. But Amazon and others do it for a simple reason—it works. According to a 2014 study by InfoSys, moving beyond “Hello <NAME>” to personalize marketing materials by customers’ behavior has been shown to improve marketing ROI by 15-20% or more.

Even more impressive, one-time-use mobile coupons triggered by customer behavior generates ROI that is 10-20 times greater than mass blasted email. Customers are individuals and reward the retailers and businesses that treat them as such.

Requirements of Personalization

Personalization does require extra effort be made by marketers. It must be planned out in advance in an intelligent way and, to achieve success on a mass scale, automated.

With this in mind, it should be possible for marketers to find ways to score and rank customers based on their behavior—grouping individual shoppers into easily understood groups such as, “first time users,” “purchased one item,” “long time customers,” and the like.

Individual shoppers could also be subdivided by the types of products they have purchased in the past or the coupons that have motivated them to purchase a particular item.

Once shoppers and visitors are properly segmented, personalization should give marketers the ability to build rules based on these ranks and scores to deliver automated offers and messages tailored to that particular person. Action triggers can then be set based on different levels of information – such as coupon interactions, real-time information from your POS, and demographic data from your CRM.

Although coupons and marketing material still appear to be distributed in a willy-nilly, scattershot fashion, savvy marketers know it takes extra effort to get the right message to the right person.

As Steve Jobs said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Now the field of predictive behavioral analytics and automated personalization make it all possible.

Dan Slavin
Dan Slavin is CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker, a leading provider of mobile marketing solutions that help retailers convert shoppers into buyers. He was CEO of Framework Technologies, VP of Open Market, and CEO of International Testing Services. He earned a BSin Electrical Engineering from Yale and an MBA from Harvard. His articles have appeared in Retail Touch Points, Retail Customer Experience,, and Street Fight.


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