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The Harte Hanks Blog

Retailers, 2015 Starts Now: Are You Ready with Personalized Marketing?

Before a snowflake has fallen or a holiday song played, retailers are already thinking post-holiday and 2015 planning. Top of mind for many retailers is the relevant, personalized marketing that consumers have come to expect from your campaign efforts and how to best incorporate these expectations into their 2015 plans.

This consumer demand for relevance-based information means more than personally addressing a direct mail piece or the subject line in an email. The message needs to be crafted and delivered based on information truly unique and in context to the consumer’s interests, preferences and behaviors. A majority of marketers struggle always or often to deliver personalized marketing at scale in one channel, let alone across channels.

Need for personalized marketing


Even with these struggles, everyone has seen the stats that show there are big benefits for getting one-to-one content right: higher open and click through rates on personalized emails, increased cart spend, double digit conversion rates…  But what does that mean for you? Are you seeing that same impact?

Consumers know.

Companies such as Amazon that do customized and personalized marketing well have spoiled everyone by building a model entirely around highly relevant communications and recommendations. There’s a consumer expectation that all companies will use the data they collect intelligently and not waste their time with irrelevant messages.

Personalizing requires relevance.

Personalizing without being relevant will not work. It’s delivering the right message at the right time to the right person. Let’s take a moment to get on the same page regarding personalization and customization.

  • Personalization is collecting implicit or explicit customer information to create a content delivery treatment map that not only prioritizes the information presented to customers but also how it will be presented.
  • Customization is when customer preferences, purchases and behaviors are mapped to information or products that match those interests. Over time, this one-to-few or-one-to one curated communication experience improves relevancy and engagement.

Where are you on the curve?

As we said, some retailers, like Amazon, are pretty far down the path of personalizing content and consumer experiences. Others are just getting started, while still others know they should be doing it, but aren’t sure where to begin.  Where are you on that curve and what are you planning to do about it in 2015?

If you’re just starting out, don’t feel too bad–most retailers are in the same spot. This gives you the perfect opportunity to get a leg up on your competition.

Getting off the ground

But just how do you get started? How do you get the support and resources you need? Begin with a business case. I suggest testing out relevance-based marketing with just a couple of key channels to start: email and direct mail. Do it well on a small scale, use your fabulous results to get the buy-in you need, then take it to the big leagues.

If you need some help on building your business case, check out this article: Dynamically Relevant Messaging for Retailers. It’s a primer for those of you that haven’t yet addressed personalization and want to get in the game. It will also give you some tips on how to engage your most valuable customers, improve response rates and build customer loyalty.

Get Personal. Get Relevant. Get Results.

Sounds better than most holiday songs, don’t you think?

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