Marketing Technology

Personal or Predatory: Finding the Line

In today’s data landscape, personalization is critical. Yet how do you find the balance between customized and creepy?

According to a recent study published in Fast Company, 75% of customers think personalization is creepy—while just 40% of brands admitted that personalization is at least somewhat creepy. What does that mean? For brands that are actively trying to stand out in a demanding digital environment and find the line between personalized and predatory, it’s time to do some soul searching and ensure that those limits are respected. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to help you navigate this important digital boundary.

Personalization profits and costs: Increasingly, customers want personalized experiences. However, the goal is to show that you understand and can deliver what they need, not that you can anticipate what they want before they do. Netflix and Amazon are held up as excellent examples of achieving the right balance. At least 20% of people who took part in the study said they would look for other brands, stop using brands, or tell their friends if they became concerned—and that can add up to a significant loss of both current and potential customers.

Pilot personalization moves: One smart move companies can make is to pilot potential personalization moves with a small subset of customers. By testing out prospective personalization initiatives, it is possible to ensure that your marketing and customer experience investments deliver value—while also respecting your customers’ privacy. Easy ways to employ this tactic include rolling out features on a limited basis, using beta testers, and collecting survey and focus group data from customers.

Focus on high value areas of personalization:  Companies that invest in personalization typically achieve a higher level of satisfaction when they focus on their customers’ needs. When your data collection and customization efforts yield positive, tangible benefits to customers, they are more likely to see the benefits and less likely to feel that their privacy has been impinged upon.

Establish clear personalization and privacy policies: Another strategy companies should consider is creating clear personalization and privacy policies for using e-marketing. While many organizations are required to do this due to legislative or industry requirements, it is also good practice to outline what information you collect and how you use it for interested customers.

Now is a great time to take a closer look at your organization’s personalization efforts and determine whether you need to make strategic updates. Your customers will appreciate your focus on delivering value while protecting their privacy.