Don't you know who I am?

Alan Gilmour

26th May 2011

All strictly in the interests of research in my professional capacity at Cogent Elliott, I hope you understand!

Naturally, at the outset in return for receiving details of their latest fashions, I am obliged to hand over a few bits of personal data - name, e-mail address, gender, that sort of thing. And naturally I expect that they will use the data and information they hold on me to, at the very least, start to show that they recognise, understand and know me.

I have been shocked by the results...

Almost without exception, and even though I have clearly indicated my gender and even in some cases what I might be interested in, I have been sent the latest...in woman's fashions. As a middle aged bloke, not even for my weekend wear, would I ever be interested in fashion for woman! Surely it must be the easiest thing in the world to get my gender right at least.

This is the kind of practice that gives CRM a bad name!

And I am not alone...

In a recent Cogent Elliott survey we found out that the majority of consumers (70%) read less than half the e-mails and newsletters that they have signed up to.

And the main reasons given for these important pieces of marketing communications not being read-irrelevant content (42%) and looked like 'junk mail' (32%).

How many man hours are invested in crafting these communications only for these to be instantly sent to the waste paper bin in the ether? What damage is being inflicted on the brand through not showing we recognise who we are writing to? How many sales opportunities are being lost by being irrelevant?

And yet customers do want to be communicated with and will consider and buy you if you get the communications right. Half of the people we spoke with (52%) think it important that businesses send out details of products and services they might be interested in, so clearly the opportunity is there. And if you get it right then 29% are likely to buy more. Is that not motive enough?

Just imagine what it would do to your business if 29% of your customers were to buy more from you.

These findings back up what I have long believed, that personalisation and relevance works because your customers like it. And study after study has shown that personalised communications with relevant content has the power to boost customer loyalty, conversions, and turnover across just about every business. This is not just about retailers trying to flog me summer frocks!

Just imagine if all businesses were able to develop and disseminate content that its customers enjoyed reading; that it sent out e-mails with a shelf life that were valued and kept; that it produced content that was interesting and relevant. This is what the market leaders do.

Now I know we all can't be like Amazon straightaway which uses its data powerfully to recommend future purchases based on past buys but all businesses can aspire to get there and there are many simple and straightforward things that any business can do to collect and use the data it owns on its prospects and customers to engage profitably with them from the outset.

But if you demonstrate that you don't even recognise and know me then you have no chance. This is so simple to do even at the most basic level that it baffles me why some businesses cannot even get the basics right.

Do you know how relevant your communications are to your customers and prospects? Do you show you recognise who you are writing to? I do hope so.