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Personalization Gone Wrong: How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Campaign

In today’s fast-paced marketing industry, advertisers don’t have much time to catch the fleeting attention of potential customers. That’s why personalization — using data-based tailored ads to speak to viewers’ specific tastes — is such an effective tool. Personalized ads have immense potential when it comes to engaging customers, but it’s not an exact science. Here’s how to keep those personalized campaigns on track and avoid common pitfalls.

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The Data Dilemma

These days, marketers have access to a wealth of data collection tools that make it easier than ever to tailor ad campaigns to individual customers. However, even with every data point you could ever want, nothing will take off without the technology to link it all together. As reported by MarTech Today, technology makes up 44% of marketing spend on personalization — and yet 26% of marketing pros cited technology as a “key obstacle” to that very goal.

Meanwhile, modern consumers engage across a number of different platforms and apps and expect a consistent experience throughout. So what’s a marketer to do? First things first: embrace technology. Speaking with MarTech Today, BrightEdge COO Krish Kumar cited machine learning and automation as two of the biggest technology tools marketers can use to keep up with real-time customer demands. Another key point is to look beyond campaign performance when measuring success. How are your personalization campaigns impacting the business overall? Are customers receiving an omnichannel experience, sticking around longer, and making continuous purchases? These are the questions modern marketers need to be asking themselves.

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Keep the Products Relevant

It’s happened to all of us: you research a product, read the customer reviews, compare prices, and finally make the big purchase. Cruising social media a bit later, and the first thing you see is an ad for the type of product you just bought. Of course, that’s a relatively small hiccup compared to the time Target misguidedly used data to predict a customer pregnancy and serve up ads for baby products. Yikes.

The point is: even with all the relevant data, personalized ads can still deliver the wrong product at the wrong time. According to a recent Infogroup study, 90% of consumers reported that irrelevant advertising is “annoying,” and ads for irrelevant products top the list of such annoyances, according to 53% of those surveyed. To avoid frustrating customers and turning them off to your brand, implement personalized campaigns gradually and monitor feedback. Make sure the basics are correct — are names spelled right and locations accurate? Again, it all goes back to the power of applied data.

Balance Personalization & Privacy

As you’re reading this, you likely have at least three or four smart products within reach. You might be reading on a smartphone, have your laptop in the next room, a tablet on the coffee table, and a connected speaker ready to act on your every whim. With the rise of the Internet of Things and Wi-Fi everything, security and privacy concerns have become more prevalent. It’s an interesting dilemma: customers want fully personalized ads, but they also want their privacy, and they’re wary of how their data is being collected and used.

There are plenty of examples of what not to do when it comes to respecting customer privacy out there, but how is a modern marketer supposed to utilize all this data without being too invasive? Transparency goes a long way, for starters; a 2017 study from Verint International revealed that 86% of consumers want to know where their data is going, and 89% want reassurance that this information is secure. Avoid being too invasive, and when in doubt, ask yourself: how would you feel if this ad was targeted at you? If the thought gives you pause, you probably have your answer.

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