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Whether you call it one-to-one marketing, individualized marketing, or personalized marketing, the ability to use variable data to connect with your current or prospective clients in a personal way can be rewarding.

Leveraging data analysis and digital technology to deliver individualized messages and products is a great way to connect with consumers. Of course, you have to be careful in the way you use that data. I’m sure we all remember the New York Times article from 2012 that outlined how Target used predictive analytics and data to determine that a high school girl was pregnant before her own parents knew.

Scary or Great Marketing?

The scary part of Target’s personalized marketing effort back in 2012 was the way they used the data to create a coupon book that was composed completely of pregnancy-related coupons thus making the consumer feel they were being tracked. Since that time Target and other companies have learned to create an experience for the consumer that does not feel so intrusive. A coupon book today is usually peppered with a variety of coupons with some targeted towards the intended consumer.

Back in 2011, Coca-Cola used personalized marketing to grab consumer’s attention down under in Australia. Their “Share a Coke” campaign has since expanded to other countries, including the U.S. and now includes college football team bottles, Major League Baseball bottles, and Major League Soccer personalized bottles.

The difference between the 2012 Target personalized campaign and the 2011 Coca-Cola campaign is that one made the consumer feel uncomfortable about the data that had been collected and the other invited the consumer to participate in the experience. It’s the difference between being helpful and being watched.

Variable Data Gone Wrong

In 2015, Nutella tried a personalized labeling campaignwhere they used variable data and allowed consumers to create their own labels. Let’s just say that sometimes you need to be cautious about whom you allow around the computer keyboard. The public decided that they’d have some fun at Nutella’s expense. The images I’ve included here are a few of the labels that are “safe for work.” You can only imagine what some of the other labels looked like.

Personalization and Variable Data Success

Ford Motor Company has seen great success with personalization in their extended service contract sales materials. A recent data-driven self-mailer increased sales 35.7%. Ford included 12 variable data points that increased the relevance of the mailer to the consumer. Some of the data points included:

  • Type of truck
  • Recipients Name
  • Year of vehicle
  • Warranty expiration date
  • Gender image

These direct mail pieces from Ford Motor Company walked the fine line between “scary” data collection and helpful data usage.

Creative Package Design

Here at Westamerica Communications, we put together a “scary” package to share with our current customers. We didn’t use data to scare our clients with all the information we’ve collected instead we created a Halloween personalized promotional package.

The personalization went beyond the use of our client’s name on the package. We also included information about us. Each candy bar included the sales rep’s name, phone number, and email. That way the client will have the rep’s contact information readily available. So, the next time they’re looking for package design in Orange County the client need look no further than the candy bar on their desk.

Personalization can be used in a variety of ways to engage customers. Creative use of data can be entertaining, helpful, and promotional. Whether used in coupons, direct mail or creative packaging, the use of variable data to create a more personalized experience for your clients will result in a more effective marketing campaign.