A Powerful Way to Get Attention

Hello my name is...

Image by rick via Flickr

I’m not Lisa, my name is Jodi.  One of my spammers doesn’t seem to know that though.  He just left a comment saying, “Lisa, this is a nice video.”

This is not a post about complaining though.  It’s not even a post about spammers or how to fight  trolls.

It is a post about using personalization the right way.

Get personal

You see, the spammer is using a technique that would work really well if done properly.  Talking to people by name is a good way to get attention.  Everyone likes to see their name (even if you don’t particularly like your name; my parents got mine out of the newspaper; if only they’d seen the name Katharine or Elizabeth instead… sigh.. but I digress).  The idea is that people react to the sound of their own name.  I once worked in an office with another Jodi, and every time I heard “my” name, I’d turn around, even if it was her boss calling and not mine.

Use it Wisely

Inserting someone’s name in an email or a letter can work wonders.  I once got a mailing that had my name inserted in several places – including photos of t-shirts and other merchandise with my name on them.  Pretty clever.

Just don’t overdo it.  Using names in email subject lines used to work really well, I think now the effect has lessened, since only marketers do that.
UPDATE: Paul Cunningham just pointed out this statistic from a recent Mailer Mailer email marketing report:

Personalization in subject lines dramatically reduces both open rates and click through rates — with open rates of 6.7% (compared to 11.2% overall) and click through rate of 1.2% (compared to 1.6%). -MailerMailer “Email Marketing Metrics Report” (July 2010)

Next time you do a promotion, try a little name-dropping.  See what happens.

Try This Timeless Copywriting Technique

jodiIt’s easy to get distracted by the latest bright and shiny technology.  We gawp at Buzzfeed, get entranced by SnapChat, and twitter away hours on social media.  But sometimes, the best way to advertise isn’t the latest idea, but one of the oldest.  Personalization has been used in direct marketing since the last century, but it still works (both online and off).

A true marketing personalization story

An advertiser with an unprofitable campaign was desperate. The ads for his business books were attractive, but the books weren’t selling. A colleague suggested adding the buyer’s name in gilt lettering on each book. The ads went out again (virtually unchanged, except for a note about adding the name). They sold hundreds of thousands of books.

Another company offered small memo books to customers and prospects as gifts. The results were poor until they used the same personalization idea.  They sent letters saying “a book with your name is waiting for you.” All the prospect had to do was to fill out and mail a simple form. Nearly everyone who received the letter returned the form.

When everyone knows your name

These examples are from Scientific Advertising (published in 1920, you can download it from the link), but the personalization copywriting technique it used is still effective.

Amazon greets me by name when I login. Online grocer FreshDirect does the same thing (and just had me fill out a brief survey asking what kinds of foods I enjoy most).

Address your letter or email directly to the person receiving it. Treat your customers and prospects like people (instead of account numbers). They’ll love you for it. They might even put YOUR name in lights.

If you can’t wait, click this link for instant gratification.

Thanks to Deb Ng for pointing out the site.

Let’s Get Personal

A letter addressed without a name looks almost as odd as this sign. Personalizing a direct marketing or sales letter costs a bit more, but it’s worth the money. Everyone likes to see their own name in print, and using the prospect’s name immediately establishes relevancy — hey, this is for me!

You can personalize direct mail print letters by adding an extra field in your database for a salutation, and, if you like, add more references throughout the letter with additional fields. You don’t need fancy software, a mail merge in Word will do the trick.

You can do the same thing in an email with a bit of code added to your email messages (check with your email provider on how to do this).

On the Web, use a personalized URL (PURL) with a matching landing page. You can then track the visits and the clicks for each one.

image from Natalie Maynor on Flickr