By Emily Suess

Current customers and prospective customers are more likely to respond well when you personalize your marketing campaign to the individual. This is because personalization caters to each customer’s interests, needs, and problems, resulting in a better experience all around. It also shows that you care enough to take a few extra steps to prevent wasting their time with unnecessary messages that don’t apply to them (and consequently might get market as spam or tossed in the trash). Here are five ways to personalize your marketing efforts.

1. Send emails to real people from real people.

For a more personalized approach to email marketing, send emails from a real person—that is, use the first and last name of a real employee—instead of using a generic email address like with only the company name. Always address the email to the customer using his or her first name or full name. If you don’t have a first name to use, that’s a fair sign you probably shouldn’t be sending promotional or marketing email in the first place.

2. Segment your email database.

Mass marketing emails might be more efficient for you, but that doesn’t make them the most effective. It pays to organize your customer lists according to what’s most important to them as well as other factors that might shape their buying habits. You might want to separate business contacts from individual customers, national from international clients, and so on.  As a more specific example, a company that sells dorm furnishings might break down its lists into college students and parents of college students.

3. Connect with your followers in social media.

Social media isn’t merely a numbers game. It’s about connecting and striking up conversations with your followers to learn what you’re doing right and what could stand some improvement from the perspective of your current and potential customers. Automated messages are a turn-off for most consumers, so turn of the canned responses and make genuine attempts to reach out to your followers.

4. Gather lead intelligence wherever possible.

The only way to clearly define marketing segments is to gather as much information as you can about each individual customer’s interests and needs. The best way to get people to tell you about themselves is simply to ask. You could encourage them to fill out a profile on your business website, add a short poll or survey to your website, or collect information in association with a giveaway.

5. Send personal notes and cards.

If you have access to customer birth dates or anniversary dates, send a note of celebration. Usually a postcard or email is enough. It keeps your business on their mind and helps them associate your brand with positive times. If you are able to, you could include an invitation to redeem a gift or include a special savings coupon that gets the customer to give your business a closer look when they otherwise might not.

Personalization isn’t just about email and target markets, however. It’s also about greeting customers by name, offering them a smile, and thanking them for their continued business. In what ways do you personalize your marketing efforts?