In an idealised world, electronic marketing was supposed to be able to draw on detailed information about individual customers, sending you a message which exactly matched your interests. In reality, it's apparently all that most companies can manage to correctly attach your name to a bog-standard email template.
Email picture from Shutterstock
A survey of 150 Australian and New Zealand marketers commissioned by content management software developer Sitecore found that 61 per cent claimed that they personalised marketing messages. However, it turned out that for the vast majority of those, the only "personalisation" involved was adding a name to an existing message. "We say we know what we're doing, but the best we're doing is putting a name on an email," said Jane Briggs, director of First Point Research & Consulting, which carried out the survey.
This turns out to be a bad idea, not least because there isn't a measurable difference in how people respond to an offer based on whether or not their name is included. Perhaps more surprisingly, personalising an email based on someone's location doesn't make a noticeable difference to response rates either. "The real differentiator is when you take account of purchase history," Briggs said.
So if businesses are struggling with anything beyond a simple mail merge, what's the reason? No single clear reason emerged, but three themes dominated:
- Technology that isn't up to the task
- Inability to merge data from multiple sources
- Lack of budget
Sorting the last is going to be tricky. Combining data sources is indeed a pain. But I can't help thinking that a little training and investigation of available options would go some way towards solving the first issue.