Taking it personally
People want to present themselves as unique individuals, and social media provides a fantastic outlet for people to display their preferences and opinions. Brand such as Moonpig position their entire offer around personalisation, and are (almost) ‘anti-generic’.
Personalisation is important in market research. Addressing individuals by their name in a focus group helps engage respondents. A personal letter or e-mail from a client prior to commencing a survey can help improve response rates.
But of all sectors, personalisation is arguably used to a greater degree in sales and marketing: the direct marketing with your name embedded in an image… the website with pop-ups and banner ads for products you’ve recently been browsing for… the e-mail from Amazon recommending you buy something related to a previous purchase or product viewing.
Sometimes this can fail (and backfire) on an epic scale. Amongst the team at Ci Research we have recently witnessed:
- Direct Marketing / Mailshots, with first name / surname confusions, or customer reference numbers in place of the name, for example “Happy Birthday CM1023756!”
- Repeated e-mails from Amazon reminding you to buy merchandise for a football team you don’t support, just because you bought somebody you know a present in the office secret Santa five years ago
I received a great example of how not to do it via e-mail today (faces blurred to protect the innocent)…
Aside from highlighting to me that I’m only interesting enough for 5 people to have looked at my LinkedIn profile in the last month (note to self…really must start posting some status updates and links to interesting blogs…), Linkedin also managed to demonstrate to me that I have absolutely no reason to upgrade to their Premium product as there are no other ‘viewers’ to unlock in the first place. Now I’m no computer scientist, but I’m pretty certain that there must be some rule which can be created which says “if number of people to unlock equals zero, do not send e-mail”? (IF:NOPEOPLE=0+DONOTSEND?!)
Despite making the effort to personalise the “fluffy stuff” effectively (my name and photo) this just leaves me thinking that they haven’t actually tailored the crux of the campaign to my individual needs. It has left a pretty ‘ineffective’ and misaligned perception of their brand (which should be about connecting people).
Personalisation done well can be highly effective, but trying to appear ‘personal’ and failing only demonstrates to the customer that you are just another number. Such experiences can have significant impact on brand perceptions and trust. If you can’t do it right… should you be doing it at all? I, for one, have taken this LinkedIn case study very personally.