Most of us know that websites are tracking our movements and maybe using that data to help inform their marketing. But using that information to call directly while someone is searching your site? That’s creepy. While many of us are now used to retargeting ads that show up after we visit a consumer website — and often even after purchasing said product — most of us tend to shrug off these forms of personalized marketing. Those of us in or close to the MarTech space often understand that data is what we trade for useful, entertaining, and free apps. But data aggregation and highly targeted marketing can still cross the line from highly-personalized to highly-creepy. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I’ve said it before, and I’ll reiterate: don’t be creepy. That’s easy to say, but how do we define the creep-line, so we don’t cross it? And how can marketers take advantage of customer behavior and intent data to sell more and give more personal experiences without scaring away customers? This article covers both those topics.
I'm looking at Wayfair and my phone just rang – an unknown number. Picked it up, and it was a Wayfair employee saying they noticed I was browsing their website so happy creepy Halloween I guess.— Ariel Dumas (@ArielDumas) October 31, 2019
When does highly-targeted and highly-personalized advertising become creepy?Remember the Bloody Mary game that kids play? They lock themselves in the bathroom and say Bloody Mary (or Candyman, if you believe the movie) three times to make her ghost appear in the mirror. The reason the game terrifies children is the thought of someone looking back at you when you think you’re alone. Don’t be Bloody Mary in the mirror, looking back at the buyer. Online shoppers prefer to browse solo and guide their own experience — and many people shop online to avoid talking to a salesperson. Many of today’s buyers feel like interaction with a salesperson is an express ticket to a high-pressure pitch. By showing up uninvited, you can startle the buyer and do harm to your brand. Unwelcome personalization can feel like a violation of trust, and can ultimately drive customers away.
What line should marketers toe?If it feels icky, don’t do it. Put yourself in the buyer’s position. What are all the reasons the buyer could be looking at your site? So many of a buyer’s actions on your site are educational or research-focused. Hitting them with a highly-personalized sales pitch is a waste of your time and could damage your brand. You may have the power to assume the customer’s identity, but unless they’ve offered up the information to you, do not presume you know who they are. Cookies and IP addresses do not a positive ID make. Instead, use that information to come up with a comprehensive lead score so you can do highly-personalized nurture marketing.
When is it okay to show the customer your tracking capability hand, and when should you play those cards close to your chest?When the customer raises their hand and identifies themselves, you can show your hand. Don’t reach out until you’re certain that they’re interested in your product. Use lead scoring in addition to all the data you collect to make sure that the person researching your brand is an individual person who is looking to make a purchase. Many of us spend most of our days online, but we spend very little of that time making purchase decisions. And when a lead identifies themselves through a lead form, newsletter subscription, or a chat with your support bot, ask them why they’re interested in your lead assets. Maybe they are just interested in your educational documents for education’s sake, but you can’t know this until you ask them. While it might make your user experience (UX) designer faint, consider adding another question to your lead form that asks for user intent. Question: “Why are you interested in this asset?” Possible Answers:
- I’m looking for more information on how to use an ATS
- I want to use my current ATS better
- I’m interested in upgrading my ATS
- I’m a bot
- I want to talk to someone from sales about your product
Things you can do with all that data you collect and intent data you purchaseWhile we can’t stress non-creepy behavior enough, you can use customer and website visitor information to do nurture marketing that improves your brand awareness and lets the user come to you:
- Run retargeting ads to keep your product top of mind. Retargeting has an end-date (usually, if you’re smart), which gives the individual plenty of time to show interest.
- If you manage to get their email address through a lead form, send an email campaign with informative content that’s targeted to the pages and topics they’ve already shown interest in on your site.
- Use customer data in combination with IP address and company account data in your CRM to get a fuller picture of their intent behavior. Combine intent data and behavioral data for a complete lead score.