navigate the course of marketing and sales using personalization!

When it comes to direct marketing personalization, is your database or CRM, last usage date from the previous decade. You are not alone.

Is your database of customers and prospects a hodge-podge of, well, just names? You are not alone.

It’s easy to end up having egg on your face embarrassing yourself and your company. Bringing about a response that is entirely opposite the one you were hoping for is about as popular as a bee sting on one’s backside. You’re still not alone.

Target the right market.

Ultimately, the key to eliminate direct marketing waste is to target the right people at the right time with the right messages. Personalization assumes that you know something about the people to whom you are mailing, emailing, or sending to a landing page and so on. It’s an effective way to keep customers spending their money on your products and services.

As data increasingly becomes more accessible, most marketers are looking for ways to make it more scalable and actionable in order to better target prospects in various stages of the buying journey. If you are a small B2B company, more than likely the cost for purchasing big data is way beyond your marketing budget.

However, consider, small B2B companies are usually closer to their customers. Therefore, if sales will communicate with your marketing team, work with them, and share their data, will they work together? Maybe. Depending on your CRM or database.

“CRM is over 30+ years on and salespersons still hate it.”  

Customer Think, Thomas Wieberneit, July 9, 2019

We are now over thirty years after the first CRM tools were introduced, initially as helpers for the sales force. Our first encounter was with a software program called ACT! As you can imagine the software was limited, but a few tools existed such as addressing and adding notes from the sales team was a good start for anyone’s sales force.

According to MarketingProfs, organizations that align sales and marketing, are seeing more than a 30% increase in sales. 

Personalizing your content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. So, quit thinking it’s a waste of time. When it’s done right, it can be the most powerful persuader in your efforts to influence customer behavior and building better relationships.

On the other hand, doing personalization badly is worse than doing no personalization at all. Fortunately, you can avoid those bad outcomes by getting into personalization slowly, step by step. If you are not sure about the personalization, test it with customers you know well who’ll give you the best feedback.

Customer data is the fuel for achieving previously impossible levels of personalization with a customer-centric strategy. Personalization is the key to keep your customers engaged.

Strategy’s, such as direct marketing and customer-centric are used with today’s technology, and the vehicle’s that allow you to deploy your customer message in a variety of channels they prefer. You want each customer to feel your marketing message is personal, every product recommendation right-on and the timing is always impeccable.

Critical Pointers that will help you navigate the world of marketing and sales personalization.

Are you aware which specific companies are currently in-market to buy your product? Wouldn’t it be easier to sell to them if you already knew who they were, what they thought of you, and what they thought of your competitors? Any good direct and customer-centric strategy focuses on people and the delivery of a message that will resonate. Personalization is one key to keeping your customers engaged.

  • Accuracy.

Probably, the single most critical element when it comes to personalization. There is nothing more unbelievable than mail or in other communication channels, when your message arrives and personalized incorrectly. Receiving such mail or email, is an immediate turn off for many businesspeople. Consequently, do everything in your power to get your information right.

When you’re not sure about a name or spelling or any variable data it’s best to use personalization in moderation or as in a testing mode. When you make a mistake once, maybe it’s only a typo, and you may be forgiven. But when you make the same mistake multiple times, in the same correspondence, your error is blatant, and a relationship comes to an end.

  • Data tools.

Start with good data and good information. Check and double-check your facts, verifying spelling and accuracy of names, and every piece of variable information in all your communication channels including in your direct mail piece and other communications channels.

  • Today, personalization is not a name and other contact points.

Personalization is more than a name. When people think about personalization, they usually always think about names. Personalization can include any information that could be helpful to your marketing and sales activity. Obvious fields could be features and benefits of your product and services.

  • Keep adding and updating data.

Continually add to the good data you already have. Every time you and your sales team communicate with a client, use this opportunity to learn more about their business. Add what you learn to your database.

  • Go slow with prospects.

Don’t overuse personalization with prospects. When you use too much personalization too soon, you’re apt to lose prospects to the never-ending round trash can to never be seen again.

It stands to reason that you would know more about clients and customers. But when prospects get messages from you that include information that is totally wrong, you’ll never have a chance to do business with them.

  • Alternative personalization. 

Use personalization alternatives. If you’re not sure about the variable data you have, try personalizing your message in ways that do not rely so heavily on using the prospect’s company name, products and services. This “generalized personalization” helps take the guesswork out of direct communication when personalization in direct mail was so prevalent.

A good use of color can eliminate any negatives one may feel when you neglect some important personalization.

  • Do not overuse personalization.

Yes, this happens all the time. Use personalization in a natural way. Don’t overuse personalization in such a way that it seems every paragraph has a personalized message. It’s a turn off and makes people think you’re scamming them when using email or other channels.

  • Know when to capitalize.

Watch out for capitalization in personalized data. It’s a sure sign that what you’re sending really isn’t “personal.” Convert your data to upper/lower case. Examine the copy one record at a time, if necessary. Otherwise you might get Ibm instead of IBM. Or Mcduffy instead of McDuffy.

  • Be Careful with abbreviations.

Watch out for abbreviations in personalized data fields. It’s a sure sign that your personalization isn’t really personalized but a mechanical function. In the real world and in a truly personal communication situation you’d probably write out the word “Suite.” When it appears in the address as “Ste,” it’s a sure give-away that it’s not personalized. Even color may not help in this situation.

  • Personalization is powerful.

Once you start using personalization, you’ll discover that it is a powerful tool, and that you’ll want to get better at using it. The key is to determine ahead of time all the fields you’ll really need in your database. Use a database structure that allows for substantial growth potential.

  • Personalize just right.

Personalize only what needs to be personalized. When people begin utilizing a variety of communication channels, personalization in their sent materials, tend to personalize everything, at every opportunity. In a real one-on-one letter, you probably wouldn’t use the person’s name in every single sentence. You’d use it sparingly and perhaps for an effect. So, carry this practice into your use of personalization for direct marketing and use restraint.

That also means to target the right accounts. Ultimately, the key to eliminate any digital marketing waste is to target the right people at the right time with the right messages. Intent data paves the way to do just that. FYI, “Intent data” is online behavior-based activity across the internet (not just on your website) that links buyers and accounts to a topic. (Intent data is on our publishing schedule for fall.)


Personalization pays. Personalized reply cards and letters almost always out-pull non-personalized direct mail as well in email and other communication channels you may select. But you need a guide and a good guide cannot only show you if it’s right for you but can help you learn how to best use it for your situation.

Thanks for reading. I can be reached at or 800.251.3608



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