Balancing Personalisation With Respect For Customer Privacy
Every time you log on to Facebook or open up your emails you'll see adverts and promotional mails targeting you specifically. Personalisation has been a major trend in marketing for many years, with companies segmenting their database into various demographics and tailoring their messages to each segment, or even down to each individual. This has been successful in driving brand engagement for B2C companies especially, as well-timed, relevant promotions can spur a customer to make a purchase.
There is a dark side to this level of personalisation; however, as in order to do this effectively you must track user's activities across the internet.New data protection regulations have given consumers more control over who they allow to track their movements online, and almost everyone has experienced an advert on social media for something they have only spoken about face to face, or have mentioned in a message on another platform. This has led consumers to be more wary of what companies know about them.
There's a strange dichotomy when it comes to tracking someone's behaviour online and how that translates to the real world. If there was someone physically following you around, making notes about everything you do and say and looking over your shoulder at your screens you would be understandably uncomfortable. In effect, this is what is happening when you're being tracked around the internet and people are starting to view tracking in this way. Some marketers have been looking at this parallel and deciding to adopt the physical standard – if it would make someone uncomfortable in real life, they don't do it for marketing purposes.
Consumers seem split on whether they want personalisation or not, and the answer could be very different depending on how you word the question. If you were to ask whether people wanted their marketing emails to be very relevant to them, they may say yes.If you asked whether people would be happy for all their online activity to be monitored and evaluated, in order to gain this level of relevancy the answer would probably be no.
What it comes down to is striking a balance between using your data to inform the creation of meaningful campaigns which appeal to certain groups of customers and not making the message feel too intrusive. Your campaign may be very welcome, but as we all receive marketing messages on various platforms all day long consumers are understandably fatigued by the onslaught of highly personalised adverts. A non-personalised message may actually be a welcome break.
As many people are using ad blockers, browser extensions, and even Virtual Private Networks to cloak their online activity, (and not necessarily for nefarious reasons), marketers are going to find it increasingly difficult to get that depth of understanding about their customer's interests and behaviour, so if you're relying on a lot of cookie data and tracking to tailor your messages then this could prove unsustainable in the long term. It is far better to get ahead of the curve and focus on quality, loyalty and trust to retain your customers and be seen as a responsible company to do business with.
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