Beyond ‘Likes” and “Tweets”

Customers are providing a continuous flow of mind-boggling data in their online ventures every day. Sometimes they are very aware of how much they are telling the world about themselves, but most of the time they are oblivious to it. Nevertheless, the specific data, when harnessed, could be a wellspring of information to help marketers and organizations reach customers with tailored materials. Unfortunately, marketers have not all jumped at the opportunities, be it because of the relative newness of social networking, the challenge of harnessing, interpreting, and implementing programs utilizing the data. Now there are websites and companies sprouting up to help marketers do just that, including Google Analytics Tutorials and HootSuite. Both of the site mentioned help take the statistics from social networking sites and help guide marketing efforts and convert investments into revenue.

In a Mashable article titled “Why Marketers Should Get to Know Customers’ ‘Digital Selves’” author Peter Pachal refers to a point Adobe’s Chad Warren said, “When brands successfully connect with customers around the things they love, advertising ceases to be a commercial endeavor and instead becomes simply useful information.” Adobe and other organizations are attempting to tie together “signals” customers are sending out from many different places in order to tailor creative material to match customer interests. A great point Pachal makes is that in order to do this effectively, organizations need to build this ability to tailor into the marketing process from the beginning, rather that try to insert it as an after-thought.

Another Mashable article titled “Beyond Likes: How Google and Adobe Aim to Measure Your True Social ROI” compares Adobe SocialAnalytics and GoogleAnalytics in their abilities to harness the social media and other online customer data mentioned in Pachal’s piece to improve CRM. As proof of the scope of the task, author Todd Wasserman said, “Given the dynamic nature of social media and the mind-boggling number of variables involved with each campaign, isolating the elements that made a campaign successful might be tough.”

While some segments of the business world are clamoring to get to the numbers, there are some that are taking the more “listen and learn” approach before jumping into to social data pool, notably banking. In this article from American Banker, Shane Kite details several bank’s toe-dipping in the data pool, with no real commitment to scour the social networks for customer information. This could be because of the high level of compliance mentioned on HootSuite to which financial institutions are required to adhere. It could be because banks have a vested interest in maintaining impressions of steadfast, traditional, stable business partners. They note the rapidity with which a customer incentive program spread through social media, but it was through customers and not initiated by the bank.

In previous posts here and on classmate blogs, I refer to the value in harnessing online customer data for targeted marketing and surveying. With all this taken into consideration here are some questions I have:  For companies, are personalized marketing strategies worth the investment in the long-run? For customers, is being on the receiving end of personalized marketing creepy or comfortable?

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6 thoughts on “Beyond ‘Likes” and “Tweets”

  1. I think there needs to be a balance. The same way a neighbor shouldnt come over and say “hey, i was watching you dress this morning through your blinds, maybe you should get that bruise looked at,” a company shouldn’t be too forward. Recently there was the KMart or Target or whatever that told a dad his daughter was pregnant. Seems like it crosses a line.

  2. Good example Chris! I agree. Sometimes I think its very good marketing when companies like Sephora will send me emails about new products based on my purchases and my profile information on their website. However, if a bank was marketing to me with the next level savings account saying I have been depositing more money and should open a larger savings account, I’d be a bit uncomfortable. My personal information on certain sites should not be used as a marketing factor.

  3. Marketing like that does happen, though. I haven’t seen it online (thank goodness) but Costco has people that will come up to the register as you’re checking out, take your membership card from the cashier, scan it into a hand-held scanner, and tell you personally that based on your cumulative purchase amount over the past year, you should upgrade to the next level of membership. I also found out they can pull up past receipts to tell you exactly what you purchased on what dates, which I’m sure a lot of places can do, but still when you start thinking about how people could use all that information for marketing, investigation, etc…..

  4. There’s such a catch-22 in personalized marketing. People in general say they want more relevant search results, they want easier access to exactly the content they’re looking for. But they also say they don’t want to be tracked and that it’s creepy when businesses use their personal information to offer more targeted results and advertising.

    Which do people want more? You can’t have both, so you have to choose.

    Maybe I’m a bit paranoid, but I tend to figure that sites and apps are going to track my activity, no matter what I do. Is it creepy? Yes. Does it make me uncomfortable? Yes. But it’s also pretty much unavoidable. Sure, you can take measures to minimize it, but it would be very difficult indeed to stop it altogether. Businesses are always going to track what they can about the people visiting their sites because that information about where their users come from, what they’re looking for and how they interact with the site is more than just lucrative: for the business, it’s necessary. That information dictates the design of the business’s sites, apps, content and campaigns. Without it, the company’s web efforts could fail completely. It also just so happens that all that personal information enables the company to put the right ads and information in front of the right eyes.

    The Mashable article about the importance of identifying customers’ “digital selves” makes a fantastic point about how, when brands successfully do that–put the right content in front of the right people–“advertising ceases to become a commercial endeavor and instead becomes simply useful information.” I think that’s a highly idealistic way of looking at personalized marketing, but I can definitely see where that kind of advertising would make the Internet that much more useful to individual users.

    So yes, I definitely see personalized marketing as being somewhat creepy, but I can see the good that could come from it, too, and I can’t help thinking that it’s pretty much inevitable. It is the future of marketing, whether we like it or not.

  5. I think we all spend a pretty large amount of time on the internet and due to that alone probably really notice how tailored the ads are towards our interests. Sometimes if I’m browsing through a stores website I’ll see the EXACT purse I was looking at and I’m like this thing is literally haunting me. Another retail company I liked on facebook stated showcasing on MY facebook page the different items I had looked at. I actually thought that was a bit much. I think the level to where personalized advertising has gone has been a bit much because I typically get drawn to ads when they’re something different or new. Similar to what Chris said, there definitely needs to be a balance.

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