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  • AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #485: Targeting versus Personalization: Who Wins?



Not sure if your current marketing strategy is doing the job?

Back in the day, simply mailing an all-purpose campaign was enough to get a company a good response. Not so anymore.


Today, to establish trust with a consumer, to compete for their attention and dollars—heck, even just to get your mail piece opened—you have to do more.


For years, that “doing more” meant targeting. These days, it means more than that: personalizing. But what, really, is the difference between the two, and which is better?


Targeting is the process of looking at your customers and sorting them into categories.


You might sort them based on their activity: prospects, buyers who made a purchase in the last six months, buyers who made a purchase in the six months prior to that, etc.


You might sort customers based on what they purchased. If you own a bookstore, for example, that might mean sorting customers by what they bought: cookbook buyers, sci-fi book buyers, children’s book buyers, etc.


The beauty of targeting is that you group and address customers based on any common ground: business type, geographic location, interests, past purchases, etc. Doing so enables you to tailor your content and offers to a specific group of buyers with particular common interests, problems, or needs.


Personalization, on the other hand, looks past the group and directly at each person in it. Personalization allows you to address each individual by name, call out identifying characteristics, and recommend items or services based on current actions. Customers want this! According to research by global management consulting firm McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions, and 76% of them get frustrated when they don’t get them.


Advanced personalization adapts real-time to your customer’s inquiries and actions, which can result in greater engagement, quicker response, and better overall results. Such advanced personalization, however, requires more technology and more expertise. Not every organization or business has the resources for that.


So, in the battle of targeting versus personalization, who wins?


Well, if you use one, the other, or, ideally, a combination of both, you do. Every time you do something to customize your buyers’ experience, you win. You mailed a reminder to subscribers who missed their renewal date? You win. You added a “you might also like” feature on your website that changes based on your customers’ selections? You win. You addressed your flyer and your letter to individual names instead of “valued customer” or “current resident”? You win.


You don’t have to have a big budget—and many don’t—to make your customers’ experience personal and more attuned. Each step you can make, when you can make it, gets you one step closer to the goal: building knowledgeable, profitable customer relationships that last.



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