Personalisation: does it still work?

How many of you still receive emails with your first name in the subject line? Does it make you feel like a valued customer? Or is it just an old trick that’s passed its best?

Personally, if I don’t recognise the sender, I automatically flag these emails as spam. And to be honest, even when I do, the fact that they have my name on file just doesn’t make a difference to me.

In fairness, this used to work. Maybe only a few years ago the use of personalisation in the subject line still increased open rates. But the wow-factor has definitely subsided. These days anyone using a mail merge function can send an email with my name on it. It’s just too easy.

If you really want to build a relationship and engage with your audience, tuning your content for the recipient will see a far greater return on your investment.

I’m not suggesting that you need to stop using your customers’ names altogether. I still really enjoy those emails saying “Happy Birthday, Caroline!”; or the postcard of a beach, with my name written in the sand, to remind me about the holiday insurance I bought this time last year. But the message is still tailored to me – making it personal.

We’’e always encouraging our clients to be sensitive to their recipient’s interests – and that applies to any form of communication. What will they want to hear about? Whether you’re updating them on their account with you, letting them know about an event local to them, or tailoring your content based on the interests they’ve exhibited in previous interactions, make it relevant. Genuinely put yourself in your recipients’ shoes. If you can’t think of at least one very good
scenario in which this content is the answer to a customer’s prayer, don’t send it.

At the end of the day, the best personalisation is relevancy; without it you’re really just a polite spammer.

Is it a brave new world?

When you are in our line of work, you tend to do a lot of reading—and from quite diverse sources sometimes. A piece from the newsletter of a specialist media mergers and acquisitions organisation caught my eye this week. And not because it told me anything new; but because it gave a snapshot of the industry that showed how times have changed… a bit like that glance in the mirror first thing in the morning.

The article was about how to value a digital agency, as opposed to a traditional marketing agency, and that just asking the question made no sense in today’s market. Back in the Noughties, digital was the ‘shiny new bolt on’ and big network agencies were scrambling to acquire the skills, probably feeling like they’d been caught on the hop. By the middle of the decade, the article reports, there were more than 200 digital agencies acquired per quarter. A staggering number really. Today, no one acquires digital for the sake of digital.

What’s important, as much for client satisfaction as company valuation, is the agency’s ability to communicate in a digital society using whatever media—email, online, social or good old print—will be most effective at getting the message across to key audiences. At HN digital has become such an instinctive part of our repertoire it’s hard to remember a time when it wasn’t. Along the way we’ve learnt quite a lot: if you’re looking to improve your use of email, have a look at our new best-practice guide; or if you’ve got a digital project, give us a call.