Live from NCDM: Interactive Marketers, Stop Being So Creepy

Dec 10, 2008 8:54 PM  By

Orlando, FL – Are you effectively using Interactive marketing to reach your customers, or are you just creeping them out? There’s a big difference, says Roy Wollen, managing consultant of Database Insight. And if you are creeping them out it could hurt your reputation as a retailer.

Speaking Tuesday at NCDM, Wollen said that if it seems you know too much about them, customers will begin to feel like they are being stalked instead of marketed to. And that will eventually lead your customers to feeling they are being attacked.

“Once that online experience can be customized, there’s a reason for engagement,” Wollen said. “The Website doesn’t know who you are until you register, but now it does because there’s an exchange (of information). I will tell you who I am if I can extract some value from you.”

And if there’s a value advocacy – through the customer spreading word about your site via e-mails and other recommendations – then you’re into what Wollen considers the sweet spot.

But then you get into personalization, and start delivering customized pop-up offers based on the information the customer has given you. That’s when the tide could start to turn against you.

“The customer stars feeling uncomfortable and asking himself why he’s getting this, how do I opt out of this,” Wollen says. “And then all of a sudden the customer starts feeling attacked, and on the defense. Now the customer is going to warn his friends.”

So what’s the best thing to do? Think about yourself as a customer before creating an e-mail, Wollen says, and ask yourself if you’d be freaked out receiving it.

This also carries that into online display ads, Wollen says. For instance, say a customer that comes back to your site, logs on and receives a personalized “welcome back” message. And then sees a display ad on the home page that says he can meet single women in his hometown tonight. That can put customers off—especially when the message is irrelevant.