For years, I’ve written about the targeting and personalization, but most of the examples I saw came from somewhere else and had been sent to someone else. Now I’m starting to see them coming at me — personally — on a regular basis. It just occurred to me today how normal they’ve become.
What has recently struck me is not just that I’m seeing more targeting and personalization in my own inbox and snail mailbox, but that an increasing number of these campaigns are being generated as part of some kind of larger vertical market application.
In other words, I’m not seeing individual businesses creating their own personalized campaigns. I’m seeing local businesses buying into larger vertical market programs created by another marketing agency or print provider that offers them the benefits of targeting and personalization without the stress and infrastructure.
There are three examples that come to mind:
1. Personalized postcards from my realtor.
These are direct mailers offering me tips & tricks for improving the appearance and potential resale value of my home. Everything from winterizing to planting a sprint garden. The cards have my realtor’s head shot, her contact information, and are name personalized to me. While Kristie used to be with one of the large real estate agencies in town, she’s now in a start-up venture with a few other realtors. That means she’s bought into one of those vertical market applications that services the needs of small agencies like hers by aggregating them. I wrote about this very type of application in “Digital Printing: Transforming Marketing & Print Management” years ago (but the primer has been updated regularly since then). Now it’s in my mailbox.
2. Local coupons with QR Codes.
Yesterday, I got a craving for Thai food but was out and about and didn’t have access to my Valpak coupons at home. So I Googled “My Thai coupon” and was directed to a mobile coupon with QR Code for validation that entitled me to $2.00 off my order. Bingo! I took my phone in with me and showed them the screen. At first they were confused, not knowing the owner had bought into the program, but then they honored the coupon and I got my discount (happy me), even though they didn’t have a scanner and had to use a pencil to write down all the coupon codes on a 2×3″ tablet.
3. Personalized auto service reminders.
My father emailed me a personalized auto service reminder they received from the garage that services their vehicles. What struck me was that this is a small, sole proprietorship, not the kind of large auto dealer we’re using to seeing these programs come from. So once again, we have a small, local business using some kind of vertical market app to target and personalize its communications to its customers.
If only it didn’t have all the variable fields in bold, the automated nature of the app might not have been so obvious . . .
Based on our records, your 1996 GMC Jimmy is due for its 159,000 mile manufacturer recommended service. Click here to schedule your appointment online 24 hours a day or call (269) 329-0442 within the next 30 days to receive the following promotion.
• Replace Engine Oil
Complimentary Vehicle Inspection
Offer expires 8/27/2012
Some restrictions apply
Lest you think that I selected these examples because of the range of channels they represent, I did not. These are the campaigns as they came to me — personalized direct mail, mobile coupon & QR Code, and personalized email. That’s the full range of the most common channels being used today. All targeted and/or personalized and generated by vertical market applications that allow easy buy-in.
Who said targeting and personalization is too difficult for local businesses?