Opinion: Have you checked if your direct marketing is personalised?

We all get direct marketing emails these days. It’s the most common way retailers and sellers try to entice you to buy from them, especially if you are a loyal customer. All your data is stored on a database somewhere in our cyber world.

I recently received an email (for women only) and it began with:

Hi Kevin,

If you’re like many women, Kevin, you sense deep down, in your clearest moments, that there are greater possibilities for your life than you’ve been able to realise so far…Which is why I’m writing today with a FREE gift that can amplify your power to manifest what you most desire ten-fold!

I must admit, I felt a bit outraged. Me? A woman? The retailer obviously had my details but how could they get it so wrong? Especially in our current climate of ultra-sensitivity around gender discrimination, why would any retailer alienate a loyal customer or prospective customer this way? Even if the marketer were a bit short on time (translation = just being lazy) surely you could have written the email in such a way that it would appeal to both genders? Eg. For women or the special woman in your life)

A 2018 Accenture survey found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognise, remember and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations. This email was an experience that I will never forget - it is memorable for the wrong reasons! All the fundamentals of marketing and communications were just bypassed. The offer wasn’t relevant, the segmentation was totally wrong and there just wasn’t any surprise and delight. More like shock and horror.

In our mobile and digital age, consumer expectations for relevant, contextual, convenient and memorable experiences have been elevated to unprecedented heights. Consumers have become accustomed to getting what they want. They’re gravitating toward brands that recognise them as individuals at every step of the customer journey.

Meeting those expectations lies clearly with marketers, who must leverage intelligent personalisation tactics if they hope to keep loyal and prospective consumers engaged and coming back for more.

Yes, the email I received could have been a mistake. After all, we are all human, but I didn’t get any follow-up to apologise for the error. This makes a consumer also wonder about the security of their data. If data can be used in error, could it data also be sent or accessed in error? What checks were put in place before pressing that “schedule” button on the mail campaign software? From this experience, my recommendation to marketers is to ensure processes are in place for the correct selection of segmented data and to issue an apology for mailers sent in error as quickly as possible after the event.

Own the mistake and recover quickly so that the relationship with your customer gets back on track. After all, as a marketer, you did invest time and effort in building that relationship in the first place.

Putting all that conspiracy theory aside, in the “Insta” world that we live in, once we have built a relationship with our customers, it’s important to maintain that relationship by being consistently relevant to them. The odd surprise and delight is important to keep this relationship fresh and intimate. That’s a sure way to keep your brand at the top of my mind - in a good way!

The writer is Kevin Kan, CEO of Break Out Consulting Asia.

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