98% of marketers said that personalisation would enhance the effectiveness of mail!

Submitted by: Print Power 13/01/2016

From bespoke pieces of direct mail to customer magazines created for the individual, personalisation is the next big thing in print marketing. Are you ready to get closer to your customer?  

Earlier this year, Brazilian airline TAM Airlines wanted to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their Milan to Sao Paulo route, so decided to create a special issue of their onboard magazine. Focusing on their core values of innovation and constant improvement of passenger service, they commissioned ad agency FCB Milan to create Ownboard, a truly personalised magazine, with every passenger receiving a unique publication tailored to their likes, dislikes, interests and social activity. Each version of the magazine was created using the passenger’s Facebook page, accessed during the online ticket purchase process. The result was that every passenger received a publication full of their own photos and details about their friends' activity, along with articles based on their interests and events they enjoyed.


“Once our clients read our usual magazine,” said Inigo Larraya, Marketing Manager Europe at LATAM Airlines Group, “they easily forget about it. We know that we’re offering too generic content. This is not personal enough.” The reaction to the special edition was astonishing. Every single passenger took their magazine away with them after the plane landed and the average time spent reading the magazine increased by 1,200% during the flight. Also, 100% of passengers felt that “TAM cares about them”, while the campaign won a Bronze Lion at this year’s Cannes festival.


The individual approach
The TAM Airlines example of personal-isation is clearly an ingenious idea executed well. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making customers feel special. Fueled by the individuality of social media, email targeting and increasing sophistication of data capture and manipulation, personalisation is being used in more and more campaigns, to the point where consumers now expect the personal service in many areas of marketing – and the media and advertising industries are only too happy to give it to them.

According to a recent report by data software provider Celebrus Technologies, two thirds of consumers across every age group in the UK and Germany now like to receive individualised communications, and more than half claim to be happy to share personal information with brands. Also, research by Econsultancy found that 95% of client-side marketers worldwide who had implemented personalisation via offline channels have seen an uplift in conversion rates. This was more than any digital channel studied and led email – the most popular personalisation channel – by 5%. The latest PriceWaterhouseCooper Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report also states that consumers are seeking out tailored, inspiring content experiences that transcend platforms.

“Digital or non-digital, for consumers it’s all about content experiences,” says Marcel Fenez, PwC’s Global Leader, Entertainment and Media. “Given the wide variations in consumer preferences, the challenge for entertainment and media companies is to blend data insights and consumer intuition to maximise the value of the experiences they offer.” And, according to a report conducted by Ricoh and the DMA, 98% of marketers said better personalisation would enhance the effectiveness of mail, with 68% pointing towards image personalisation as an innovation to improve its ROI.


900 million and counting
Of course, there’s always been an element of personalisation in print marketing platforms such as direct mail – it would have difficulty being delivered without at least a name and address. But the world of personalised marketing has now widened to encompass the target’s likes and dislikes, as well as their position in the sales funnel. “We have done several pieces of personalised DM in the past and it’s a lot more effective than generic targeting,” says Mark Cruise, Head of Print Management at BSkyB. “My view is that everyone is going to need to be much smarter about how we all sort our data and use that data to target the customer. In order to survive, DM has to perform, and the best way for it to perform is by being more personal and more applicable to the person it’s being sent to.” Mark is responsible for an annual print budget of £15m and produces around 900 million items of print marketing every year. Around half of that total is direct mail, a third media inserts and the remainder door drops. In short, he’s responsible for one of Europe’s largest output of print marketing from a single brand.

“The advantages of direct mail to us is that it’s a longevity piece – people hold onto it for longer than an email – and it’s more engaging,” says Mark. “The tactile nature of print will always be an advantage as long as there’s an emphasis on quality stock and quality creative. And with personalisation, we can target the customer based on the service we’re trying to sell.” One of the most effective DM pieces BSkyB sent out was a letter with a personalised card attached, a campaign that was so successful that it ran for three years and has only just stopped. On the card was printed the target’s name and exclusive customer number as though they were already a valued Sky customer. “That was designed as a piece of mail that the customer could keep in their homes,” explains Mark. “It was phenomenally successful, a really heavy engagement piece that the marketing department loved using.”


Targeting the customer
However, it’s not just direct mail and customer magazines that have the potential to be personal. By its very nature, door drop is also a highly targeted medium, with customers chosen according to their location – a good indicator of income – and proximity to a brand’s store. “Brands can use door drop media to promote their products to specific target groups and also benefit from the fact that the study of print media by the user is very intense and repeated,” explains Iris Fuchs, Divisional Developing Director of German door drop specialists Walter Werbung Group. “One of the biggest advantages of all door drop campaigns is the possibility to target certain geographical areas, as well as avoid wastage.”

Retailers such as Homebase and B&Q also produce seasonal versions of their catalogues, with different versions sent to customers according to their previous purchases, while clothing brand JD Williams found they had a better response rate from catalogues printed with the customer’s name on the cover. But one of the most innovative brands when it comes to catalogues is Boden. The clothing label that operates across Europe has a fantastic track record in creating engaging catalogues that succeed in selling product and building their brand. In 2010 it produced 300,000 copies of its Winter catalogue with a personalised cover featuring products relevant to the individual customer, as well as a fictional love story between the customer and Boden, identifying the very first product the customer had purchased. Then, last year, they gave children in the UK, Germany and the US the opportunity to create their own MiniBoden catalogue cover via an online app. The children used various pre-designed elements to produce an image of an island that, along with the child’s name and age, formed a unique catalogue cover that was then printed and mailed out to them. “It’s a really good way of illustrating how something digital can fuse with something tangible,” explained Mike Gough, Boden’s Associate Director of Creative Services. “It’s been an amazing project and we’re really proud of it.”


The Amazon of mail
Of course, you can have all the creative solutions in the world, but without good data, any personalised piece will be unengaging and ineffective. And worse, if you get any details wrong about the potential customer, you could lose them forever. But not only are print and data companies getting more watertight in terms of customer information, they are now about to use that information in more and more sophisticated ways. “You have to have the knowledge and data to be able to target effectively,” explains Robin Welch, CEO of GI Solutions, a print and marketing firm whose clients include Tesco, BSkyB and Pets At Home. “Using digital print, we can set up an automated job that will take a feed from a client’s CRM system that can tweak certain pieces of information or calls to action on a client’s direct mail piece, and have that out within a few hours.”

GI Solutions are working on a new DM product which will be a mail prompt for abandoned baskets. So if you don’t purchase an item in your online basket, instead of an email, you will receive a piece of mail that offers you an incentive to go back and buy the item. “We’re almost at the point where we can deliver Amazon marketing on paper,” says Robin, “where we can send out mail within six hours that suggests different products based on what the customer has bought. It’s all about using the data to get somebody to do something.”


More personal, more effective
If print marketing is to continue to be effective, it has to go further down the road of personalisation. No one is saying that it will be able to compete with the immediacy of digital, but the combination of the relevant message and the physical medium is a powerful one, and one that will continue to be effective long into the future.

“More and more brands will have to use personalisation in their print simply because you and I and everyone else out there are more likely to engage with print if it’s more relevant to them,” says Mark Cruise of BSkyB. “Don’t get me wrong, plenty of generic leaflet, brochure and DM work will remain, but the personalised piece will become more a lot more personal.”

Source: By Sam Upton - Print Power Magazine Autumn 2015