Making It Personal: Tips for an Effective Personalization Strategy with Vivian Swertinski

Associations, Communications Strategy // The TL;DL: We're sharing highlights from our podcast conversation with Vivian Swertinski about how to personalize your association's communications.

Mike Stiles
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There’s a lot more to your job as an association marketer than just pushing out emails. You’re in the relationship-building business. And good relationships usually aren’t generic and done in bulk. It all comes down to an effective personalization strategy. Listen to Higher Logic’s Beth Arritt chat with this episode’s guest on The Member Engagement Show podcast about how to get personal.

The Guest

Name: Vivian Swertinski

Who They Are: Vivian is Senior Manager of Strategic Services at Higher Logic. She’s spent 25+ years in strategy and working with customers in the digital marketing space.

How to Reach Vivian: LinkedIn

Vivian’s Best Advice: “Your first question should be: what members are you worried about? For instance, are members segmented by those who faithfully renew year after year and those who have low engagement and are slow to renew? Identify the members to worry about early, because it’s harder to convince people right at the deadline than it is to converse while there’s still time.”

Episode Takeaways

So You Have Data Fields, So What?

Just using a data field isn’t going to make members feel warm and fuzzy. Everybody knows how easy it is to impersonally have machines insert their name into an email. It’s not special anymore. If you know the name their friends call them by, now you’re getting closer to personal knowledge and will be able to get more attention. Of course, even that only lasts a few seconds. Once they’re inside the email, the content has to be personally relevant and matter to them.

Just Remember: There’s a difference between personalizing something and making it personal. Let the member know they’re more than just a first name inserted into a data field.

Figure Out Why They’d Want to Talk to You

If you want to strike up a conversation with someone in the real world, it’s a good idea to ask someone about them or observe them first. You’re seeking to establish common ground from which to authentically engage them to avoid the “why is this person talking to me” reaction. Digitally, watch where they’re going and how much time they’re spending there to determine what they’re interested in engaging about.

Just Remember: The only way to get to know someone personally is to take the time to pay attention to what they say and what they do.

Stop Guessing

Use member and satisfaction surveys, including spaces for them to write out their thoughts. With those enlightening results, you can identify segments of members that aren’t feeling represented or noticed. Members are at varying stages of their journey, and all must see themselves in the content, tools, and resources. Find out which groups need some love.

Just remember: If you don’t know…it’s fair to just ask.

Don’t Be Rude When You’re Inviting Someone

When you’re inviting members to an event, it cannot be one-size-fits-all. Some people have never been before. Some people haven’t been in a very long time. Some show up faithfully every single time. It’s about putting yourself in each of these member’s shoes. Getting personal wouldn’t be overwhelming because these are clear segments: always show up, never been, haven’t attended in a few years. The messaging for each has to make sense.

Just remember: If you’re inviting someone who’s never been to an event with a message that says, “We can’t wait to see you again,” they know right away you don’t know them and it doesn’t matter if they don’t come. 

Vivian Swertinski: “My first question would be, what members are you worried about? Are they all of the same status? Are you equally confident that all of them will renew? Are there segments or groups that you’re like, I’m not sure about that. Other groups should be like, oh my goodness. They renew year after year, not too concerned about them. If you’re concerned about any group or any types of members or any specific segment of members, how might you identify them early? To me, it’s like the gym membership. If the gym knows I have not been there in four months, not showed up once. They should be worried about me, they should notice and they should be like… And I’ve had this, I’ve had this happen actually at a kickboxing gym, believe it or not. I know, me kickboxing, right? They’re like,” Vivian, we haven’t seen you on the mat. We haven’t seen…” I’m like,” Oh, yes, I know. I will come back.” But the point is, to even be thinking about it in advance because it’s hard to turn something around at the very end of anything, but while there’s still time, you can jump in and you can make a difference and you can take action while there’s still time to take action.”

Get more in-depth tips from Vivian in the full podcast episode, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Mike Stiles

Corporate Communications & Content Consultant

With backgrounds in TV, radio and theater, Mike Stiles took the lessons learned in storytelling and audience engagement to enterprise content strategy and writing services. Before serving his own clients, he was Manager Global Content Strategy for IHG. Prior to that he was with the Oracle Social Cloud where he led content and created, produced and hosted the Oracle Social Marketing Minute podcast and ran the thrice weekly blog. Clients have included Oracle, P&G, Delta, PayPal, the CDC, Equifax, IHG, UCB, Fiserv, and many others. He is author of the eBook “Showtime: Brands as Content Producers.”

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