Don’t Personalize Your Marketing If Your Data and Processes Aren’t Ready
This week's message is short and sweet—do not try to personalize your online marketing communication if you can't do it right. Just don't.
First, let me say that I am specifically talking about the online experience you are providing to your constituents. The same general thoughts apply to offline marketing, but the danger in doing it wrong online is much greater because of the higher expectations the marketplace has developed for this channel. Second, let's make sure everyone is in agreement with what "personalization" means and, by the way, it is not the same as "customization."
This is the simplest way I can describe it:
- Customization is when you "request" something different from the standard offering. For example, customization is when you are allowed to interact with a web page and select specific elements you want to be highlighted when you log in, have your interest areas served up automatically when you visit the webpage, etc.
- Personalization is when there is an interactive "conversation" based on personal insight from and about the constituent; i.e., their buying behaviors, their engagement in the past, their preferences, etc. Here is a comment from a recent article I read: "[...] It seems that the real benefit of personalization occurs when an individual has an 'aha!' experience that occurs when the content adapts itself based on the person's profile, and provides something new, different and possibly unexpected."
The "aha!" is important. Now, let's get back to my original statement—if you can't do it right, please, please, please just don't do it.
Imagine yourself in this situation:
- You are someone who has an online reader—you've had one for years—and you are very active in buying books directly from your reader to enjoy.
- You typically only read murder mysteries, political conspiracies and detective books. You are not too hard to figure—you seem to never venture far from this subject area. In fact, you have also even become quite the fan of this favorite "brain candy" that you even really enjoy the mystery/detective/conspiracy authors that have a series approach, which follows a set of characters from one book to another.
- You often get emails from this very large, popular offline bookstore that expanded into online books (and readers) years ago. (This is my way of saying—they should have this figured out by now!)
- You buy all of your books from them for your reader.
Now imagine how excited you were to receive an email trumpeting this is in the subject line: "Don't Forget ... the Sequel to 'The American' is Waiting to be Read!"
This was followed quickly with the email stating: "We know you enjoyed the American—so don't wait—download the next book now and start reading today." As a side note, you so loved this book that you actually rated the book through your reader.
Of course, you are so excited by this because you loved the book prior to this one. In other words, receiving this email was the perfect "aha!" moment!
Now, imagine how disappointed you were to find that 1) you had already purchased this one 2) you had already read this one and 3) you had already even rated this one on your reader. Again, the reader is this bookstore's reader and you only buy books for your reader from this bookstore. How simple should it be to get this right?
This was the exact moment when the excitement of the "aha!" and the love of the brand turned into frustration with the brand and a sense of "you don't even know what I've bought from you!"
So, again, just don't do personalization unless you can do it right. Just don't.
Getting the "aha!" is great but getting it wrong can undo that very quickly. Someone might even write a blog about it.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.