Back in those far-off, ancient days before the internet, there used to be something called ‘direct mail’. Think of it like a physical version of email; a “letter” and a “brochure” were put into an “envelope” and sent to the customer. If your data selections were good, your copy compelling and your offer attractive, the customer would respond and you’d make a sale. You’d then tweak the variables and set up another direct mail campaign, wait for the results, and so on. You could get a reasonable degree of personalisation and, if you spent a lot more money, the personalisation could be increased through things like digital printing (think of it like dynamic content – because that’s what it was).
With the advent of the web and email and online marketing the degree of personalisation has increased and the cost of doing it has fallen. We know more about our customers and their preferences and we can tailor their experience of our site or communications to match what they’re interested in (or what we believe they are – the two aren’t always the same). And because the cost of doing this stuff is fixed rather than incremental, we can set something up and leave it to run; the variable costs come in getting people to our site in the first place, or in generating leads.
This is all background to this piece that appeared in the Guardian today: “Royal Mail’s online shopping trial sparks fears of junk mail deluge“. There are two responses to this: 1) that’s interesting (the concept) and 2) FFS (the response). (more…)