What's Truly Personal?
I cannot count the number of times I've used the word "personalized" to describe a direct marketing campaign, particularly direct mail efforts. It's only been within the past few years that I've begun to differentiate between personalized—meaning the use of a person's name and identifiable information to address him or her—and customization—the use of that same information to actually target the content strategy and particular offer made within a campaign to each individual promoted. And I'm keenly aware that my action is being driven not only by the rise of more sophisticated forms of digital printing but by the incredible power of the Web to deliver a true, one-to-one marketing experience.
Don't get me wrong: The advances being made on the print side of one-to-one are nothing short of impressive, considering we're talking essentially about paper, ink and a press—the same materials used to print since Gutenberg ruled the land. And mail still enjoys an advantage of being a push medium that has a more tangible, tactile quality for those of us who like the feel of paper in our hands. But you cannot deny the Web its due for being a medium that can present customers, and prospects even, with a personally relevant experience while they are still interacting with the medium. It's mind-boggling to think of all the different arrangements of messaging, graphics, offers and tools that direct marketers can set up for visitors based on data gathered offline and online.
For a better idea of what this ability can mean for a direct marketer, check out the case study on Carnival Cruise Lines and its Web customization strategy, "Carnival Cruises to Personalization," in "The Ultimate One-to-One Tool" cover story. And, if you're jonesing to get in on this next-generation marketing activity, read the discussion on technologies you can use to make your Web site more relevant to visitors. Completing this special focus on online customization is an article from SEM firm icrossing that will provide you with insight on how Web customization efforts can impact your SEM program goals, along with specific steps to take to create a more harmonious relationship between SEM and dynamic Web page generation.