He Who Personalizes His Incentives Tees Up for Success

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March 6, 2012

If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s to give away information to nurture relationships. E-books, whitepapers, and reports have become a standard carrot on blog and website menus.

Any successful company has a content-rich digital presence with a highly trafficked download area that is quietly capturing and developing relationships with customers who are not yet ready to engage.

To differentiate themselves from the pack, companies in several vertical market segments are getting really personal with their prospects to earn their business by offering more unique incentives to reward the action they want their customers and prospects to take.

A Hole in One

Pinehurst Golf Academy, a golf resort in North Carolina, wanted to drive enrollment to its Golf Academy. In a multichannel marketing campaign, it mailed a postcard that drove recipients to a personalized URL to take them to an online self-assessment of their golf game. Almost 12% went to the PURL and 26% of them completed the survey.

Based on their answers, responders were sent an eight-page roll-fold brochure with personalized and customized information regarding the weaker part of his/her golf techniques. Imagine the engagement upon receipt to get a tutorial to help their swing vs. a generic image piece or whitepaper.

Best Seat in the House

The Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania executed a direct marketing campaign to sell tickets and solicit donations. Through a direct mail piece that incorporated more than 120 fields from the subscriber database, their campaign was a winner. It resulted in a 2,466% return on investment, 60% renewal rate and more than $661,000 in renewals and donations.

A color-seating chart was included so subscribers could view their seats and decide to upgrade or not. More than 5,000 different combinations were possible in the variable print piece. And though Fulton Theatre didn’t give subscribers a reward, they succeeded by personalizing the solicitation piece to the point each recipient had ownership in the Theatre and took pride in maintaining their stake in that season’s experience.

Designer Tees

NewPage, a paper manufacturer, wanted to drive attendees to its trade booth at the HOW Design Conference. Its pre-show mailing offered designers a free t-shirt that they could personalize with one of four phrases and choose male or female tailored styles. The result was 47% of recipients visited the landing page to complete the survey for the shirt. Response was off the charts. NewPage had to take down the landing page temporarily to order more shirts.

NewPage’s one size doesn’t fit all approach was a hit with designers who like any new means to express themselves.

At the same conference another vendor built customer relationships by doing a mailing that directed attendees to a landing page to sign up for a free ride from the airport to the conference. Approximately 214 people requested a ride from the airport via the Personalized URL. An additional 42 people signed up for a ride via other channels.

This demonstrates an incentive doesn’t have to be something tangible or even printable. A free ride is just as desirable as a t-shirt, upgraded seat or golf swing intervention.

Best Practices

Is your brain spinning with great personalization ideas? Use these takeaways from the personalized approaches above to connect with your customers this year.

  • Know your customer. Researching your audience and truly knowing what will move them into action is the key to your campaign.
  • Move beyond a first-name basis. Make sure you personalize your call-to-action pieces using rich variable elements far beyond a prospect’s first name. Your data field drop ins might be their favorite magazine, trade journal, years in the industry or golf club brand, the more you can speak to them one-on-one the better chance you have to hit a hole in one.
  • A good carrot gets eaten every time. While it’s easy to give customers rims of informational pieces on your industry or niche, take the time and spend the money to build an incentive that speaks directly to them such as a golf swing fix. There are hundreds of directions a ball can go upon being struck, but Pinehurst Golf Academy was fully vested in making sure their new member’s hit their ball straight up the middle.

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