Monday, June 17, 2024

Personalize This: Moving Beyond “Dear John” Messaging

Last updated on November 23rd, 2017 at 01:23 pm

Today we’re bringing you a book excerpt from Daniel Glickman’s new book Personalize This. In this excerpt, learn how to move beyond spaghetti logic and “Dear John” messaging to personalization.

Personalization: Relationships Matter

Why do you stick with a friend through thick and thin? In part, because you know each other’s bullsh*t and to start new friendships from scratch takes a heap of effort and energy.

Once you begin to know and accept someone–basically, to develop a relationship with them–you become invested, and once you become invested, you make a commitment. Ultimately, it is hard for most of us to back out of something we have put our time, money, word, and possibly heart into.

As marketers, we should keep this in mind: As long as we aim to build and maintain legitimate mutually beneficial and satisfying relationships with our customers, it is most likely that only an egregious error on our part will cause anyone to walk away–to reject us, to smear our good name across social media.

Segmentation, Automation, Personification, and Personalization: Moving Beyond “Dear John” Messaging

In marketing, we basically have run from segmentation and automation, to personification to personalization. In a nutshell, each of these methods allows us to communicate more accurately with our audience, but some methods allow us to be more precise and authentic than ever before. Some allow us, if we “listen” well, to respond to our customers with real-time, context-driven, relationship-building messages.

In segmentation, we create audiences/ segments/ slices/ groups (or whatever you call a portion of your list), and use marketing automation to send out different communications to each group. Today, most serious marketing departments already segment their audiences, but believe it or not, I still come across major brands that don’t. I’m not sure what the reasoning in these cases could be, but I do understand that segmentation comes with its challenges.

The main challenge in segmentation is dealing with the “spaghetti” of business logic (or automation rules). For example, at a basic level, the system revolves around something that looks like this:

If {user} is (account=“premium”) and (last login  date > 14 days ago) then send {email_id=5555555}  else…

Spaghetti logic results in poor communication delivery. By the time you have all that logic built up, you have no idea who receives what email, and when.  In fact, some segments could receive six emails per day, and you would be none the wiser. You’d perhaps see people unsubscribing, but wouldn’t be quite sure why.

Given the power and user-friendly capabilities of today’s data collection technologies, we all have the power to know the who, what, when, where, and why of the majority of marketing decisions we make. Why then, would anyone not take advantage?

Personification attempts to solve the problems segmentation cannot; it is a methodology, not a technology. Applying personification, marketers describe the typical persona types (there are usually four to six), and then build their business logic around them. Personification helps sort out the spaghetti, but does nothing more.

Personalization is a quantum leap forward: It allows businesses to relate to each customer as a segment of one member. Naturally, this results in infinite segments, rendering it impossible to manually write business logic for each individual customer. To achieve a segment of one, you must set the business logic off to the side and automate the automation.

Some believe they are engaging their customers in personalization merely by “adding personal attributes to a communication. They think, for example: that when a customer opens an email and reads: Dear {customer name}, that customer will be impressed–“This company, this brand, really knows me.”

Ten years ago, maybe some segments got all starry-eyed over such “personalized” emails; today, “Dear John” emails have become ubiquitous, and most people know it.

Personalization takes modern consumer savvy to heart by building a profile for each and every audience member and customizing every communication, experience, and data presentation to their needs. Personalization reaches far beyond addressing a person by name, or even beyond allowing a client to login to his or her account; personalization revolves around a customer-centric marketing approach.


Can’t wait to continue reading? Your copy of Personalize This is waiting for you on Amazon.


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Daniel Glickman
Daniel Glickman
Daniel is an internationally recognized CMO, author and keynote speaker. Passionate about creating a data-driven marketing system that empowers the creative team to thrive and perform.