Personalized Mail Works — and Insurance, Financial Services and Fundraising Marketers Know It
"Control mailings" — those mailings that are repeated in the mail — are considered successful mailings and are often the most worthwhile for marketers and printers to study. It's why they play such a prominent role in our multichannel marketing database, Who's Mailing What! But how does the use of personalization vary depending on whether a mailing is a control or not? And in which industries is this happening the most?
Researching the last year in Who's Mailing What! reveals some eye-opening statistics that appear to demonstrate that personalization works. Here are numbers from the last year (from May 13, 2012 to May 13, 2013):
- There were 1446 controls among 5913 mailings. That's 24.4%.
- 2027 of those 5913 mailings were personalized. That's 34.3%.
- 870 of those 1446 controls were personalized. That's 60.2%.
In other words, at present, a quarter of the mail are controls and a third are personalized. But when it comes to the so-called more 'successful' mailings, the control mailings, 60 percent are personalized. And what about the one-off mailings? Of those 4467 non-controls, only 581 were personalized — or 13 percent. No wonder they only get mailed once.
All of that points to personalization as being a major reason for mailing success. That'd be no surprise to experienced marketers, like Bart Foreman — president of Group 3 Marketing, a relationship marketing company based in Wayzata, Minn. — who told me that the goal of personalization is simple ... and effective. "Capture the attention of the reader and hold that attention long enough to get the message delivered," says Foreman.
Of course, personalization continues to grow into two key ways. First, far more sophisticated analytical tools exist today, and direct marketers know how to use them better. "I call that creative analytics. Segmentation has led us to be able to target and personalize relevant messages and offers," he explains. Second, variable digital printing (VDP) is now a more refined technology. "The database support for VDP and the actual printing technology supporting the process have made personalization really personal because the personalization can be integrated into the piece," says Foreman.
What's surprising is that personalization hasn't taken off in all sectors. Who's Mailing What! covers eight major buckets — B-to-B, Financial Services, Insurance, Fundraising, Publishing, Retail, Technology/Telecom and Travel — and the rate of personalization varies quick a bit depending on the vertical:
- Insurance: 71%
- Financial Services: 71%
- Fundraising: 59%
- Publishing: 39%
- Telecom/Technology: 34%
- Travel: 27%
- B-to-B: 17%
- Retail: 6%
While it's no surprise that fundraisers are "all in" on personalization, who knew the insurance and financial services marketers were so hip? Seriously, they clearly know that if you don't know the name of your prospective customer, then you're dead in the water ... err, mailstream. For other verticals, it's still all about the offer, but you wonder how some added personalization could boost response.
Of course, we're not even talking about "advanced" personalization. That kettle of fish is for another day. Ping me on my email if you have any thoughts about personalization, and perhaps share some of your own experiences.
Ethan Boldt is the Chief Content Officer of Direct Marketing IQ, which offers many direct marketing resources such as Who's Mailing What!, the world'd most complete library of direct mail and email. He can be contacted at email@example.com.