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Is Your Personalized Marketing “Creeping Out” Your Customers?
Remember the ‘80s Rockwell hit song “Somebody’s Watching Me”?
Do you feel like somebody’s always watching YOU online? People are starting to get an uneasy feeling about how the data they view or share online is being used by marketers.

How your small business uses online data
can either STRENGTHEN or DAMAGE
your customer relationships.

You might think that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers feel as though Big Brother’s watching them, while Millennials think nothing of it. But the reality is that there is not much of a generation gap in people’s perception of — and uneasiness with — being tracked online. A recent study by JWT showcased that adults across the board feel that it’s all a tad creepy. Even so, Millennials acknowledge the concept of using Big Data to track them on the web as a part of everyday life. Is Your Personalized Marketing “Creeping Out” Your Customers?Gen Xers are starting to accept the change.
However:

If your target market is primarily Baby Boomers,
you’ve got a 50/50 chance of upsetting your customers
by tracking their whereabouts online.

But even for these Baby Boomers, despite not liking to be watched, they still want to receive relevant content and special offers that are customized to their likes and needs.

 So what’s a marketer to do?

We continue to see automated predictive personalization as a trend in the progressive marketing world. The term predictive personalization may sound fancy and new, but chances are, your business is already using this approach. Its roots are based in good customer service:

  • Knowing your customers by name
  • Politely acknowledging them when they stop by
  • Seeing them look at a specific product and saying, “If you like that, you might like this, too.”

Is Your Personalized Marketing “Creeping Out” Your Customers?Big Data simply lets online businesses take this kind of customer-focused personalization to the next level. When this automation goes too far, though, it unnerves your customers and they start hearing Rockwell’s lyrics in their head, “I always feel like somebody’s WATCHING me…and I got no privacy {oh, OH, oh}.”

It’s like when you’re in a store and you can feel the salesperson’s eyes following you around as you browse. That’s not what you want for your customers. Keep that eerie feeling in the back of your mind whether you’re working on simple automated emails or a complex CRM/CMS system for your business. Remember that NO ONE likes to feel watched — not even those young Millennials.

So what’s the takeaway for YOUR small business? It’s simple:

Have a solid marketing strategy. Understand all the options and capabilities of your automation tools, so you can use predictive personalization in a way that matches your target audience. If you’re unsure, enlist the help of a professional to get your automated marketing up to speed.

In the end, remember:

Your automated emails and other personalized marketing strategies
should help your customers feel LOVED not WATCHED.

Got a question or comment to share? Let’s chat below in the comments.

Till next time,

See all articles by Zina Harrington
Connect with Zina online: LinkedIn | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+

P.S. Are you a visual person? Check out this great Mashable.com article about how Jer Thorp — the artist in residence at the New York Times — uses data visualization to make the data being used in business accessible and meaningful to society at large. Learn more and view Jer Thorp’s TED talk about how he draws on design principles (and inspiration from books, museums, and history) to “humanize data.”

Image Credit: Thank you to Inês Arnedo for sharing the wonderful Hitchcock portrait under Creative Commons!
See more of her work here.

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