Personalization and one-to-one marketing have become hot customer relationship management (CRM) topics in recent years. Indeed, glowing case studies from the direct marketing industry abound. Yet the core concept of personalizing print promotions has been slow to gain acceptance by catalog marketers in particular. Why?
Their reluctance may be due to past experiences in the traditional print catalog world, where the incremental cost to vary the offer can be prohibitive. As a result, most print catalog promotions deliver a product-centric message. To be sure, that can work for some catalogers, but it still doesn’t tap into the notion of true one-to-one marketing.
E-mail, however, provides a good vehicle for delivering — at relatively low cost — targeted, customer-centric, promotional messages to subscribers and opt-in customers. Previously, versioned messaging entailed simply plugging each recipient’s name into the body copy of an e-mail. But through the use of today’s automated e-mail-deployment systems, your messages can be varied to reflect the specific interests of your various recipients.
For example, Best Buy recently segmented online buyers into two groups based on their past purchases. Those who had bought stereos and CDs were segmented into the music group, and those who had purchased DVDs, TVs and VCRs went into the movie group. Best Buy then sent music-centric e-mail offers to the music group, and movie-centric offers to the movie segment.
Other ideas for personalized e-mail promotions: Before mailing a catalog, send an e-mail to alert customers that their new editions will arrive soon. Or send e-mails after your mailing to steer customers’ attention to specific offers you think they might like.
Through integrated campaigns of this type, your tried-and-true, product-driven catalog offers would be propelled by e-mail messages that identify with customers on an individual level.
By now you may be asking: “Aren’t there some privacy concerns with this approach?” Indeed, there are some. But more and more customers are accepting e-mail as a viable and reliable communications vehicle from trusted brands, so your properly executed and personalized e-mail campaigns should not raise an inordinate amount of recipient concern. After all, e-mail already is being used by many merchants for one-to-one customer communications about everyday transactions such as order acknowledgements and shipment notifications. The scope of the opportunity to personalize your promotional efforts should continue to grow as the number of new and existing customers who give you their e-mail addresses increases in time.