Personalization Is More Than Data

When we think personalization, we think data. But as I’ve said on here many times before, data is just that — data. It’s how you use it to create relevance and engagement that makes it personal.

This point was driven home this morning as I flipped through yesterday’s mail. I ran across an envelope that appeared to be trying to be personal but in fact was downright scary. It reminded me of my dog who thinks no matter what trick you ask him to do, rolling over is better. “Shake!” (rolls over). “Sit!” (rolls over). Rolling over is more complicated and flashy, so no matter what my master asks me to do, I’m going to roll over — and he does.

CaparellasSo we have here. Real stamps make things seem more personal, so we have a real stamp. Handwriting fonts make the addressing seem more personal, so we use handwriting font. Oh, and color helps get attention, so let’s add some of that. First-class mail gets better responses than other classes of mail, so let’s draw attention to that.

The result is, well, you can see for yourself.

  • They are using a last name I haven’t had in years.
  • The barcode is located directly above my name and address, obliterating any accidental identification as real handwriting.
  • The real stamp is undermined by the tacky “print ‘em by the hundreds of thousands” graphics on the preprinted envelopes.

I’m sure there’s more, but this is tough to look at.  The point that it drives home is that personalization isn’t real stamps, handwriting fonts, or data. It’s how those elements are used to create the sense of relevance and engagement. This has multiple elements that could be used to more powerful effect. Instead, I didn’t even open the envelope.

Are you talking to clients about the difference between data and true personalization (relevance)? If so, how?

This labelling news was spotted at The Digital Nirvana
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