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Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog, “Why Personalization Needs to Be Human”


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Why Personalization Needs to Be Human," speaks to the marketing automation trend that stakes its claim on the whole idea that automation technology makes communication personal. That may be the case, but is that personalization humane, or is it a cold bot attempting to replicate the human touch?

On the surface, marketing automation's ability to generate personalized communication is real. We all receive various forms of automated marketing communications that speak to us by name. There are even instances of internal manual data collection efforts that provide brands and individuals with the ability to target those data sets by name and depending on how deep the data collection is, also by interests.

The discussion around personalization in the marketing world tends to focus on how data collection usage impacts customized communication. That conversation is also primarily centered around unveiling customer preferences, purchasing habits, overall behavior, and intent.

It's important to consider that personal data collection of consumer habits reached a new high in the early 2000s. Television sales, in particular, hired and enjoined third-party survey professional contractors to deliver personal data to match viewer demographic types with Nielsen audience programming preferences better.

Personalization Context

Methods are being utilized that deliver personalized communications that miss the mark. Message timing is of central importance, and when messages reach us at inopportune times, they often prove to be of little to no value from the customer viewpoint. Conversely, when a message is received at the appropriate time, that value proposition increases exponentially.

For example, in the context of a person who is not tied to a desktop computer that is searching for a destination, at a bus stop or a train station, that search context is very different when it occurs on a mobile device, as the event is happening in real-time.  In short, the variances between location and timing are critical for brands that want to be perceived as being more human.

The timing issue is much more profound when it comes to context. Imagine that you are traveling home after a long day at work. You receive a message from GrubHub that your meal delivery will be at the approximate time that you will reach your destination. Sounds great, right?

Let's change the script. You're not going home, but instead, you are heading to an after-work meeting or a pub to socialize with friends. Would you be irritated to receive a restaurant's marketing message that missed the context of your behavior at that micro-moment? Some may argue that some will not mind while others will. The question then becomes, "How many targets would a brand be willing to alienate?"

The bottom line, marketing initiatives need to be responsive in real-time while also being efficient.


Micro-Moments is a concept recently introduced by Google. According to a thinkwithgoogle.com article, "Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich times when decisions are made, and preferences are shaped. In these moments, consumers' expectations are higher than ever. The powerful computers we carry in our pockets have trained us to expect brands to immediately deliver exactly what we are looking for when we are looking. We want things right, and we want things right away."

The Automation Conundrum

For starters, automated marketing will continue to grow. As automated marketing evolves to better assess micro-moments for consumers and prospects, there is yet another area that brands need to understand better, and that is the ability to emulate human conversation.

Most of us are probably aware of automated messaging that misses the human element. In recent surveys, the focus is increasing for brands to include distinctive personal insights in previous years that highlighted the need for more natural-sounding language and user's time considerations.

It is no secret that many brands are missing the ability to identify and create useful contextual information that raises the bar to make their communications more human. In part, this conundrum occurs because of a lack of a collective thought process by the different departments.

A good example occurs in the movie "Any Given Sunday." In one scene that comes to mind, the coach explains to Jamie Foxx, that he knew of a quarterback that lacked Jamie's character's quarterback skills but was able to have success because all of his teammates, the other 11 players, saw the field as one. In short, they were all on the same page. Therefore, brands could heed the "Any Given Sunday" example and forge a single vision among departments when it comes to marketing automation strategies.

Here's another marketing automation issue that rubs users the wrong way. Say you make an online purchase (and this applies to both B2C and B2B), and within minutes you receive an email thanking you for the purchase.

In the hours and days ahead, you begin to receive push notifications alerting you to purchase the product you just bought, or worst, you receive an email stating that the product you just acquired is now on sale. This is one of the areas where marketing automation fails.

Now let's expound on that post-purchase and move to social media channels. You may have noticed that after purchasing an app, software, or product that your social media feed immediately shows that same product at a discount. Most purchasers ignore the message and chalk it up to the brand using your social media channel feed to appeal to like-minded people, more than likely, your followers. The reason being that you purchased the product, so maybe your friends and followers will do the same.

One could argue that an approach of targeting your social media followers fails to be personal.

Being Human is Being Responsible

The marketing world has come a long way with the advent of new technology. And to that end, technology has proven to be a boon for most advertising and marketing strategies.

Direct mail marketing, for example, considered by many as one of the most personalized forms of marketing, is now surging. While the debate goes on as to why direct mail marketing has become more relevant, we believe it is because direct mail marketing can be more trustworthy. For example, digital communications are in decline, due to the initial surge and lately, security issues, coupled with the spread of disinformation campaigns. Direct mail has also proven that it can elevate response rates for social media and digital venues.

The Net-Net

The human factor is now a real consideration among consumers and prospects alike. Personalization marketing that embraces a more human approach will win the hearts and minds of consumers, friends, and followers alike. Thanks for reading, "Why Personalization Needs to Be Human."

Let's have a conversation about direct mail strategies, printing, print software, transactional documents, variable digital printing, brand equity, and unified marketing collateral during our next Open House. We invite you to join us for an hour or two, November 21st, anytime between 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. You can tour our 58k+ sq. Ft. facility and experience our vast array of state-of-the-art print, mail, and sorting infrastructure.

Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. And, if you bring us your files, we will create a demo file for you. For more information, call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider offers organizations end-to-end data, printing and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

If you don't want to wait for the Open House, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the contact form for Dove Direct.

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