Finding the Line Between Personalization and Cyberstalking
The story is clear: personalization is good and cyberstalking is bad. But how can you draw the line to ensure you’re maximizing engagement (and sales) without coming off like a creep?
Get Personalization Right
The first step is to learn who your customers are. Learn how they identify themselves, from sneakerheads to beauty fanatics. Then, instead of simply examining where they spend time online, assess where they want to be found online. Wild idea — these might not be the same. Just because your customer likes political blogs doesn’t mean that you should advertise on one, for instance.
People can feel like they’re being cyberstalked when brands follow them everywhere, but your brand shouldn’t be everywhere anyhow! Smart targeting will help you nip this in the bud from the start and avoid making your customers or potential customers feel like you’re shadowing them around the web.
Lastly, determine what kind of communication speaks to your brand’s customers. This requires testing and listening, but this time investment is necessary to find success. Clothing brand Johnny Was revamped its email welcome series with multiple, personalized paths. The brand saw a 271 percent increase in revenue driven from the new campaign because of this attention to customer paths, meeting them with messages when they were most receptive.
Stand Out and Bring a Benefit
This is especially critical for retail brands. We live in the most customer-centric world ever, and customer expectations are the highest they’ve ever been. In competitive markets and on business-critical shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, brands must continue to stand out.
For example, a fast-casual restaurant might send an email about free delivery on a rainy day. Not only does that recognize the individual customer, but it also helps to solve a problem — customers don’t want to go in-store because of the weather, so conversion is more likely with a take-out option. In the crowded and loud marketing and advertising sphere, these tailored campaigns receive much more attention than something less purposeful.
Brands must continue this benefit-driven approach post-purchase. Marketers too often focus on customer acquisition without remembering that the funnel continues after conversion. Maintaining that amazing, personalized experience once a customer is on board shows extreme value for a brand over time.
Use Smart Remarketing
Cyberstalking is the result of constant communication. Here are three practical strategies to make sure your brand doesn’t come across as a cyberstalker:
1. Add frequency caps to advertisements to prevent overexposure.
Potential customers may need several touchpoints with a brand before converting, however; there's a line that when crossed, people are left feeling inundated and at the worst turned off by a brand. To prevent this, setting a limit to the number of times an ad appears is an easy way to ensure a balance is struck between building brand awareness and driving shoppers nuts!
2. Block advertisements from showing on certain websites.
It’s important to not only listen to where potential customers or current customers spend their time online, but also determine where your brand should be shown online. There are certain URLs or sites that may not be on-brand for you, so prevent your ads from showing on these sites to maintain brand perception.
3. Refresh creative to ensure one advertisement doesn’t follow someone everywhere.
When users see the same ad again and again, they naturally tune it out. Updating the look of your ads ensures this doesn’t happen and helps you stand out online. Make sure to refresh frequently, hitting on current promotions or seasons to stay relevant.
Consider the Omnichannel Experience
We live by a saying: the customer is the channel. Before making a purchase, your customers will experience your brand on a number of platforms and channels. Make every touchpoint count and speak directly to your ideal customer with on-point messaging and content each step of the way.
Brands with longer selling cycles must especially take note. Knowing who your customer is will help to maintain a consistent voice across channels, even in a longer deliberation period by customers.
It's key that all of a brand’s channels must also talk to each other to accomplish this. When the exact same creative and messaging shows repeatedly, or a user gets hit in every single channel in a short time span, it can feel excessive. Every channel must work in tandem to find the right cadence for customers.
Maximize Customer Experience and the Bottom Line
When you keep these guidelines in mind, you’ll help customers while maximizing the performance of marketing efforts. Cyberstalking is the result of lazy marketing, and retailers know that the competition is too steep to not take into account a more strategic approach to targeted, personalized marketing.
Marissa Allen is vice president of strategy at Wpromote, a digital marketing agency.
Related story: Top Email and Social Media Marketing Tips for 2019
Marissa Allen is VP of Strategy at Wpromote, a digital marketing agency.
Marissa joined WPromote in 2018 to help support the company’s fast-growing paid search and display team. She immediately began growing strong agency partnerships and showing her thriving accounts the value of branding and new customer acquisition. After 5 years of developing accounts through a strong belief in the Full Funnel Strategy, Marissa helped establish Wpromote’s Strategy team, where she is responsible for driving multi-channel strategic growth and exceeding client expectations.