Personalized marketing is an exciting burgeoning strategy that, unfortunately, not many companies do very well.
Aside from Amazon and Google, the history of personalized marketing is peppered with growing pains that have not reflected well on the companies involved.
An example is when a few years back, Shutterfly sent out tons of emails congratulating women on their pregnancies. There was only one problem: many of them weren’t pregnant.
You can’t make this stuff up. But what we can do is point out some potential pitfalls that marketers can avoid.
Equipped with this knowledge, marketers can be a little shrewder and savvier in their personalized strategies. I hope they can avoid Shutterfly-like debacles by learning from the mistakes of others. Let’s talk about five of these gaffes.
1. Don’t Infringe on Privacy
This is the cardinal rule of personalized marketing. I don’t care how tempting it might be to break it, this principle is non-negotiable.If a company is dipping too deeply into people’s information, it’s a sign that the company hasn’t thought ahead.Click To Tweet
If consumers find out that you are using their data inappropriately, you might as well put your brand in a burlap bag and throw it over a bridge. It’s no good to you anymore.
Facebook can afford lawyers to deal with privacy suits. But if a company is at all smaller, breaching privacy is a career killer, along with just being a jerk move. Don’t do it.
Using data and respecting privacy is a difficult balance to strike. But any company seriously interested in personalized marketing will have to learn how to strike it.
2. Don’t Be a Robot
One thing that can lead to privacy breaches and other problems is letting algorithms over-dominate execution. While getting good data is hugely important, having a human hand on rolling out the strategy helps you to truly personalize it. It also forestalls any kind of privacy disaster.
With data-driven solutions, it’s tempting just to sit back and let the machines do their work. But since personalized marketing is such touchy territory, I don’t recommend this tactic. Always make sure that there’s a real human overseeing and regulating your strategy.
3. Don’t Be Sloppy
Personalization is a spectrum. Sure, when I get marketing DMs on Twitter, people usually have my name right. After that though, the whole pitch feels very impersonal.
It doesn’t reflect my tastes at all, nor does the product necessarily represent anything I’m interested in. This is highly annoying.
As a consumer, it tells me that a company cared enough (or was creepy enough) to learn who I was. But the company didn’t care enough to learn about what I was actually interested in or would want to hear about.
Remember, about half of Americans wouldn’t mind if companies tailored ads more to their needs. But you’ve got to do the legwork and know what actually interests your audience.
The internet has opened up tons of hyper-niche markets, and people are nerding out over just about everything from lifting belts to tattoo inks. Get in there and figure out what sort of personalization your leads want.
4. Don’t Forget About Existing Customers
Some marketers have such an insatiable craving for new leads and new data that they don’t think to work with what they already have. What about the people you’ve already converted? Don’t you think they’d like to hear from you? Repeat business should never be neglected.
And this ground rule is especially true when it comes to personalized marketing. Chances are, if you’ve already made a sale to somebody, you’ll know something more about him or her than some rando on the internet you’re trying to learn about.
A company should not overlook its pre-existing customers: in many cases, these customers will be its bread and butter.
5. Don’t Overestimate Your Data
Finally, don’t think data can tell you everything about your customer segments. Several times, I’ve been browsing to buy things for friends or for a significant other.
Later I’ve found that companies are using these items (which are not interesting to me at all) to try to sell me similar stuff. What a waste of time.
Remember that data is fallible. Collect it from a number of sources, and be prudent and judicious in your analysis of it.
Doing so will allow any business to craft meaningful and authentic personalized campaigns that don’t simply regurgitate any data that’s come down the pipe. Be smart.
I don’t want it to sound at all like I’m against personalized marketing. The fact is, we need it. As I mentioned before, markets are becoming more and more niche. Personalization is sometimes the only way to actually appeal to an individual user with individual needs.
Really, it all comes down to my advice in the last paragraph: just be smart about how you go about your personalized marketing efforts.
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