Is this news more relevant when I have your name here?

Submitted by: Ulbe Jelluma 08/05/2016

The combination of data, advertising and digital presses allowed some 15-20 years ago the start of personalisation. These were the days of Don Peppers and the One-to-One future. Direct Mail could be personalised thanks to the digital presses and the start of data management. Today personalisation and versioning is everywhere. Retailers offer personalised leaflets and brochures, travel companies selected travel desitinations and car brands personalised brochures.

Today personalisation goes far beyond what Peppers predicted. Coca-Cola personalises bottles and Target supermarkets in the USA uses predictive analysis to address pregnant women. Personalisation is everywhere, in direct mail, online media, outdoor media, TV advertising, customer magazines and sales collateral. Andrew Mortimer, director of media at Sky, UK’s largest advertisers says they’re applying personalisation in all of these media. With digital outdoor, targeted advertising via Sky AdSmart and print ads Sky is driving sales and customer loyalty. Mortimer also suggest we’re entering a new era in online media, one in which data and technology are making many advertisers question whether online advertising is as effective as it was thought to be. Visibility, viewability, fraud and adblocking reduce the effectiveness of (personalised) online advertising.

Personalisation is most often used in Direct Mail. A recent InfoTrends study shows the importance of personalisation of the content for consumers. The likelihood of opening direct mail was directly correlated with the relevance of the specific products or services that reflected the needs of consumers. When the right products or services were offered in a mail piece almost 78% would open the mailing. Interesting to see that 22 % reads a mailing as a leisure activity. Personalisation has also a direct effect on the open rate: 84% of consumers are a little or much more likely to open the mail piece with personalisation. 

But there is also a very strong contradiction; although consumers are more likely to open a mailing that includes personalisation, only 27% receives (very) frequently a mail piece with high personalisation/customisation. Almost 42% receives a customised mailing once in a while and 27% rarely. Why are advertisers not using high level personalisation more often? The technology is available and the consumers appreciate or even favour personalisation. Research shows the reasons for not using personalisation: 59% say they simply don’t have the technology or resources, 53% don’t have the necessary data and 28% say it’s too difficult.

The same study shows the effectiveness of personalisation. About 4/5 of the respondents mention personalised content is more/much more effective. Three quarters of the respondents mentioned they would increasingly use personalisation in the next 12 months. 

Moments of truth

An important factor in personalisation is timing. With the growing knowledge of consumer data it becomes also easier to pinpoint consumers at those key moments. For example when people are moving they happen to change quite often their utilities provider says Jim Conning, head of Data Services at Royal Mail. Procter & Gamble used to call the moments the ‘Moments of Truth’, these are the moments in the life of a consumer that matter. When brands can show they can help or support consumers in these moments, they will be more appreciated and the advertising might be more effective. The value of a postal address is higher than that of an email address, when the email address changes there is no way to further keep contact with the consumer, a postal address will provide you the opportunity. Conning says that 67% of marketers consider the postal address more important than the email address. Postal addresses also allow for hard copy mailings that can easily be produced at almost all of the digital print equipment providers. These digital presses offer a growing number of enrichment techniques. And the high-end equipment produces a quality that is sometimes better than offset presses, even when using personalisation.