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The Power of Personalisation

A year back, a new cafe sprung up in our area. At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention to it as I was satisfied with the 2 cafes I already went to each week. But last Christmas morning, I was desperate for a coffee and it being Christmas Day, no cafes were open in our area – except this one.

So I went in that fine Christmas morning, ordered a take away latte and went on with the day’s festivities.

The cafe had been bustling, which I put down to it being the only place open. The coffee was great and with it, they gave each customer a free nut slice/biscuit. That made an impression on me.

Here in Australia, many cafes shut down over January as it’s our summer holidays and everyone goes to the beach. This new little cafe stayed open so I went in every day, to get my coffee.

During what is a quiet time of year for most cafes, this little cafe was HEAVING with customers.

I would sit at a corner table, working on my laptop (as I am today as I type this). I’d watch the staff work and customers come and go. As I did, I noticed something.

At least half of the customers who came into the cafe were greeted by name, by the staff.

When I first noticed it I thought it was a fluke, or that the staff member I was observing just had a freakishly good memory. But after watching for a few days I realised that it wasn’t just one person. All the staff were doing it.

They not remembered names, they remembered orders.

A customer would walk in and the staff member taking the order would loudly say, “Hi Jeff, large soy latte again today?”

Over the next couple of weeks, I watched this happen every day. One day I even kept note of how many names and orders they knew. It hovered around the 50% mark. If they didn’t know the customer’s name. they would ask and then write it on the cup along with the order. When they handed the person the order, they always looked them in the eye and used their name.

It struck me that while many cafes write the names of their customers on cups, as part of their workflow/organisation, this cafe was different. They went the extra mile and committed the details to memory.

A funny thing happened to me while I saw their watching them personalise their service in this way… in fact two things happened.

  • Firstly – I felt like I was in a place that cared. I heard other customers comment on this to each other too “Wow, they know everyones name!”
  • Secondly – I wanted them to know my name/order too!

It took me 4 days of going in before they got my name and order committed to memory but boy it felt good when they did. I belonged…. I had been noticed…. I was a ‘regular’.

It’s no wonder that this little cafe is almost always full (in fact many days I can’t work there because there are no tables) and has a line of takeaway customers.

Personalisation is a very powerful thing.

Personalisation on Blogs

Today, I’m sitting here in the cafe watching the power of personalisation in action and I’m pondering how (and if) it could be applied on a blog.

I’m sure there would be many ways and would love to hear some suggestions of how you’ve seen it done.

One that springs to mind was a practise I did in the early days of my own blogging, quite intuitively, and that was emailing anyone who left a comment on my blog. If I saw a new commenter, I would always answer the comment and then send the commenter an email to thank them and to let them know I’d replied.

This personalised wasn’t really scalable after a certain amount of readers (without me becoming a full time community manager instead of a full time blogger) but it had a big impact in the early days of my blogs.

I would get many, many emails back thanking me for doing what I did and I know for a fact that quite a few of those people became regular readers.

How have you tried personalising your blogging to take note of individual readers? I’d love to hear your experiences!!!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. zolar says:

    yeah… i like the email to commenter.. maybe i need to do it but nowadays there’s many spam email/. dunno which one is the real one

    • zolar says:

      Just reread again this article.. Wow… I love the concept to know the customer name…
      If I’ve more money I’ll build a restaurant like that.. It will make the customer feel he/she become important in the cafe…
      oo darren, will you remembered me? hehehe

  2. Graham says:

    Great post Darren. Remembering names has always been something I personally take pride in trying to do.

    I operate a pop culture and media blog that we recently started in January of this year. I have started to write a column on personal experiences with certain media, music particularily, that has influenced my life. I don’t manage to keep up the column as much as I would like to, but that channel specifically is a major goal in our content plan for the rest of the year.

    A recent post detailed my experience with a specific band that myself and a good friend shared a passion for. My friend and his wife used a song from the band as his first wedding dance and it was really touching on an emotional level due to our mutual respect for the artist and all of the memories that came with it. When I wrote about this band in a recent column, I managed to work the allusion into the narrative. I didn’t name names, but to he and our close circle of friends, it was clear exactly what I was talking about. It was like a little Easter egg. I wasn’t seeking to convert readers through appeals to pathos, he is a regular reader anyways, but he personally thanked me for the post and I was honored that he did. Great advice.

  3. Kelly says:

    Awesome article Darren! I think you are incredibly on time with this. The cafe sounds like a unique and communal experience that anyone would enjoy and this article has given me several ideas on how to make my own blog a reliable source that will give it a bit of personalization. Thanks for the great blog!

    • Ive just created a blog on my new site so all this info is a great education for me – i have book marked the site to return as there is so much to learn and quite scary!
      What would your top 3 tips be for promoting your blog?
      Ash

  4. Perhaps instead of having related posts, subscribers to Problogger could see something along the lines of, “Dear _____ We’re so happy to have you at Problogger. We appreciate you taking the time to read “x” article and we’ve personally compiled a list of similar articles you may be interested in. We think you’ll find them useful, but regardless we hope you have a wonderful rest of the day! :)”

  5. mike Inkster says:

    We find this in thebuilding that we manage, by getting to know our tenants and suppliers things go along much more smoothly.

  6. James says:

    Its pretty tough to do in the anonymity that is the internet but I think e-mailing people who comment at least at the start of your blog shows that you care and are thankful.

  7. Very nice idea Darren, personalization can make wonders, I remember a marketing guy whom i came across taught me the trick of remembering names of people whom you meet for first time and then greeting them again with their name when you meet second time meant a lot especially when your job is to meet 100 new people everyday in case of that marketing person. Thanks for invoking the idea, I will try it out on blogs too.

  8. I have responded to few of my commenters during the early days just to thank them of the insights they have left on my article but was not taking it seriously. This is a good post and I’d like to commend Darren for sharing this.

  9. I run a freelance writing blog and I encourage my readers to email me directly with things they need help with so that I can turn them into blog posts. I know lots of bloggers do this but it works for me so well because I really don’t have all that many subscribers!

    Yesterday one of my readers asked me something about contracts and I meant to hit reply and write a short note thanking her and promising to write about it at a future date. Instead I got carried away and sent her an in-depth blog post length reply and even attached a useful template I created and use. She was pretty happy (not to mention a bit surprised)!

    I suppose this is where it benefits to not have thousands and thousands of people on your email list – you have the time to really connect with readers individually.

  10. as a blogger, it is easy to remember the name of our regular visitors, am i right or somewhat wrong????? as i am new to blogging i had not tried any way to personalize my blog… but i will try to generate some new ideas to personalize my blog…..
    thanks for this mind blogging post…!!!!

  11. as a blogger, it is not our job to remember the name of our regular visitors, am i right or somewhat wrong????? as i am new to blogging i had not tried any way to personalize my blog… but i will try to generate some new ideas to personalize my blog…..
    thanks for this mind blogging post…!!!!

  12. Shana Norris says:

    Having someone use my name – whether it’s an IRL conversation, or online – always really personalizes it. This coffee shop sounds like they’re on to something.

  13. William says:

    Very good post something i am trying to do in my blog, remember the names of regular visitors and then give then some satisfaction by adressing them with there name.

  14. Hi Darren,

    what do you thing about common concept such; ‘watch, copy and modify’ to a business. is it work well to build online business? i noticed that usually there was people start first than what i did..

    thanks

  15. Samya says:

    One thing I always do is to personally respond to every comment. It’s feasible for me because my blog is not the biggest one, and I got very good feedback from my readers. Also, I don’t just write answers to their comments, but in those answers I also use their name or nickname.
    For co-bloggers who leave their link in their comment I immediately (well – the definition of immediately may vary a bit here) go to their blog, read one or two articles and leave a comment.

  16. Matt @ YLB says:

    It’s funny – I work in a service based industry and while I have a blog too I forget that I can apply service to the blog world as well. Time to get proactive and work on my customer service for my blog.

  17. Kashif says:

    Personalization is most critical element of a business strategy. This holds double true for online businesses.

  18. Many years ago, more than 20, I stayed at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and was impressed because they had a person standing permanently outside the elevator, whose sole function was to say hello or have a good day, but followed by your name. I don´t know how he remembered them all, but man, I felt like a queen. Personalization is extremely powerful, because we all want to belong. And it feels like others care about you.
    I hardly answer questions in my blog unless it´s a question or a personal/direct comment, because I always (or at least 95% of the time) go to their blogs and leave a comment there, and usually add their names in it. If they don´t have a blog I leave it in mine. But it´s a pain to go back and read responses to comments, so I assume they never do.

  19. Tim Bonner says:

    Hey Darren

    I have CommentLuv ReplyMe enabled on my blog but it’s difficult to make that personal.

    What I try to do is connect with people on social media when they leave a comment on my blog. I’m thinking now though that maybe isn’t quite so personal.

    Do you think, Darren, that email is a more effective way of personalising things rather than using social media?

  20. Shalu Sharma says:

    I think personalisation is a great idea. What the cafe owners were doing is exactly what we should be doing as bloggers. Addressing comments personally or making our blog personal with lots of personal things in it will go a long way.

  21. Jacob says:

    Hi Darren, thanks for this, your article inspired me to write a blog – http://jacobwhoward.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/my-name-is-costa/ – but I think in the end it all comes down to authenticity.
    Best, Jacob

  22. Personalization is and always will be key to customer service and building relationships. Every person wants to be validated or have a sense of belonging. That’s why it still floors me that businesses still struggle at this.

    I send hand written thank you notes to new clients I acquire. There was a time working at a large hotel corp that I took the time to hand wrote holidays cards for all the hotel sales teams w a personal details and had exec team sign.

    It is definitely a lot of effort but if done consistently; can yield a lot of return.

    Thanks for the reminder to keep at it! :)

  23. mai calev says:

    Thanks, Darren. Great article, giving us all something to ponder. We like the anonymity of technology, but we also like to have our egos stroked when someone remembers our name and order. Personalization truly makes people feel as important as they really are.

  24. mic says:

    Great article, but this behaviour it is common in Italy.
    The cafe (or just bar in Italian) is the place where the people take its beak in the middle of the morning, having a fast breakfast and spending few words with the bartenders and customers. After a while, everyone knowa each other by names and tastes.

    It’s like the having an afterwork beer in a pub for the English people.

  25. Caroline says:

    Darren – have you ever seen the American sit-com *Cheers*? Well, that’s what Sam’s bar was, where everyone knows your name. Ooh, just about to break out into song.
    This is so simple to do isn’t it – probably why we don’t do it all the time.

  26. Shaba Shams says:

    Personalisation can be considered as branding. Its a great pleasure to be known.
    Great Article !!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  27. Chris says:

    I’ve seen travel sites use personalisation quite effectively to build a really engaged audience. It seems to work best for female travellers but believe even simple things like you mention darren with personal followups to new commenters is a great start.

  28. Niels Reib says:

    Hi Darren, thanx for another great post and yet another idea on how to nuture the readers. The excample with the coffee shop is great and diffinately one I’ll try to convert to my website.

  29. Personalization for internet usually lies at the email, where the owner will address the reader. Other than that, I can’t really think of any other places. Maybe at FB and Twitter?

    But I do agree addressing one person’s name is a very powerful marketing tool. ROI is high.