It seems that people are wanting to personalise everything – it started with greetings cards, then Coca Cola tried it (in a way) and now we can order our Heinz ketchup bottles, Nutella jars or soup cans with personalised labels.

It engages people, it’s a novel application of an old concept, but personal messages are not new. And, when applied to direct marketing, personalisation is not just about putting a name on something. We see it all the time – digitally printed direct mail, where the possibilities are endless, but the only variant is the person’s name in big letters on the front. Whilst this may increase interest for the recipient, are we not missing a huge opportunity?

In a world where data and information is more available than ever before, we have a huge opportunity to really tailor messages to recipients. It’s a common adage of ‘right message, right format, right time’ and increasingly right channel, supported by right images, right supporting message and message hierarchy.

We’re a long way from the old days of ‘carpet bombing.’ The consumer is ever more aware of these tactics and rejects them. We have access to more information about our customers than ever and therefore should be able to understand their preferences and spot trends and patterns of behaviour. It’s mere common sense that we should be timing communications and tailoring offers, messages, images and communication channels to ensure that any contact is relevant. Why would you bother to invest in digitally printed communications, without giving them every chance of succeeding? After all, a DMA survey stated that ‘consumers are 7-10 times more likely to respond to well targeted and relevant direct communications’

When it comes to direct marketing, there has been a lot of press about ‘the return of direct mail’. The retailer Next has recently ‘turned back on’ its direct mail activity, after a gap of 6 years, citing that a reduction in competitor activity means less doorstep clutter and more responsive pieces. Whilst this may be true, I suspect that the effective utilization of their wealth of customer data to drive well targeted and relevant communications will have more impact on results than the gap left on the doormat by competitors.

So, while names on the front of Nutella jars is a cool gimmick, for 2015 and beyond the challenge is to link the ever growing wealth of data and customer insights to personalised direct communications, and give the consumer the respect they deserve in a much more marketing savvy world. Through this approach, we are consistently seeing 25% plus increases in response rates, across all sectors