“What’s in a name?” asked the immortal William Shakespeare.
Well actually, quite a lot, it turns out. Not just for the star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, but for all of us and for our companies.
People want to do business with companies that know their name and who they are. It’s always been thus. Two decades ago, marketers learned this lesson when they harnessed emerging database technology by adding a prospect’s name to the salutation of direct mail letters. Dear Mr. Snitzer got a much better response than Dear Valued Customer.
The added cost of personalizing the letter was tiny compared to the resulting good will and increased sales.
Technology has come a long way, with online e-commerce, big data and digital automation. But human nature hasn’t changed much. We still crave personalization. We want to feel understood, valued and connected.
I get excited when a company sends me something that perfectly aligns with my interests.
For example, I’ve been taking swimming lessons and recently bought a new pair of goggles. A day later, the company I ordered them from sent me a link to a YouTube instructional video showing how I could more effortlessly glide through the water — theoretically. I watched the video two times, bookmarked the link and recommended it to all my swimming buddies.
I can’t wait to see what they send after my next order.
And it’s not just me. Ninety percent of consumers say personalization impacts their purchasing decisions. Many of them are like me — they want even more. Numerous studies show that companies that are meaningfully engaged with customers sell more, at higher prices and are rewarded with more market share and greater profitability.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily. I’ve been to my dry-cleaner hundreds of times. Yet I’m still greeted by, “phone number please.” Same at my local hardware store where the cashier has asked me at least 30 times, “Do you have a rewards account with us?”
Is it any wonder that I only go there in a pinch; when there’s no time to wait a day or two for my Amazon order to arrive at the front door?
So how can your company do things better? Start by imagining that you’re able to assign a skilled personal shopper to every person who walks into your store or visits your website — one who knows each customer’s preferences and buying habits. What would that do for your sales?
You probably can’t get to that level of one-on-one selling, but you may be able to implement important pieces such as remembering names, recognizing frequent customers, welcoming new customers warmly, and training your sales staff to make relevant recommendations.
Amazon, for example, earns 35 percent of its total sales by making recommendations.
You should also personalize your company’s email campaign. Too many brands send the same email to their entire list, which is generic and uninteresting. It’s better to divide your list into at least two segments — buyers and non-buyers. To your existing customers, emphasize your rewards program or mention something new they may not already know. Or tailor your message based on products they’ve purchased before.
To non-buyers, you should deliver a message aimed at earning trust along with a special deal to encourage new customers to make their first purchase.
And, with either segment, you can increase email effectiveness by personalizing the subject line. Open rates go up by almost 30 percent when you simply add the recipient’s first name.
After all, “What’s in a name?” was really a rhetorical question. For Romeo and Juliet, in the end, it was all that mattered.
Adam Snitzer is a revenue strategy expert and president of Peak Revenue Performance, a consulting firm that specializes in helping companies attract more customers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the company’s website at PeakRevenuePerformance.com.