1:1 marketing can seem overwhelming if not handled moderately.
Thanks to advancements in digital marketing analytics, one-to-one (1:1) marketing is now a very real possibility for businesses across the digital landscape. If employed properly, 1:1 marketing promises more targeted consumer outreach by defining individual users beyond mere demographics. Companies can truly guide consumers to the products, services and promotions that matter most to them.
There's no denying, though, that when 1:1 marketing is poorly executed, those efforts can come across as creepy and invasive to consumers.
When marketing gets creepy
One-to-one marketing takes the potential of current data mining and remarketing initiatives even further, offering cross-channel support. For ISPs and cable providers, that could mean using a user's online activity to influence which advertisements are shown to them via their on-demand cable dashboard. Such a targeted approach significantly enhances marketing and advertising efforts, driving revenue and improving the bottom line.
However, when handled poorly, 1:1 marketing can have the opposite effect, appearing invasive and driving away customers. Many consumers have found certain digital marketing practices offputting - a June 2015 Marketing Executives Networking Group study found that more than half of U.S. internet users agreed that brands were often too intrusive in their social media interactions. Clearly, brands need to take a very nuanced approach to 1:1 marketing to strike the right tone with consumers.
For instance, consider someone who browses flights to Paris online, but doesn't commit to making a purchase. If that individual is suddenly bombarded with TV commercials for European airlines, Parisian wine tours or French language courses, they may feel a little creeped out by the surge of multi-channel targeted advertising.
Don't go too fast, too soon
One-to-one marketing is best handled in moderation, as many consumers may be uncomfortable with the concept or simply misunderstand it. Businesses should approach 1:1 marketing with measured deliberation and be cognizant of prevailing consumer concerns regarding user privacy. It's a delicate balance, engaging customers with more targeted advertisements without seeming to compromise their privacy or monitor their digital footprint too closely.
One of the primary reasons why 1:1 marketing may concern or even outright scare consumers is that there's no opt-out option. Certain businesses are able to get away with more overt instances of user activity monitoring because people understand that they can delete their account and opt out at any time. If an individual feels uncomfortable with the level of personalization reflected in their Facebook advertisements, they can simply stop using Facebook.
Further complicating matters is the fact that many consumers demand the kind of tailored engagement that 1:1 marketing provides, while simultaneously remaining skeptical of the data gathering and analysis required to make it happen. It's what Forrester has dubbed the "Privacy-Personalization Paradox" and it remains difficult to navigate effectively.
How to take the creepiness out of 1:1 marketing
The key to effective and organic 1:1 marketing that won't raise a red flag with consumers is context. For instance, don't bombard a user with targeted advertisements at regular, short intervals. That will only come across as invasive and pushy. Ads should appear organically, like friendly reminders that a product or service the consumer once expressed interest in is still readily available.
"The key to effective and organic 1:1 marketing is context."
Another way to achieve this more nuanced approach is to layer in additional variables to make advertisements more relevant to a specific situation and appeal to an individual's current disposition and state of mind. Going back to the Paris airfare example, if that same user is watching a travel show about backpacking through Europe or the best places to eat in France, that would be an ideal time to remind them that flights to Paris are on sale.
Facebook's work with TripAdvisor is a good example of how to contextualize 1:1 marketing efforts so they appear in the right circumstances and don't come across as off-putting or invasive. When someone plans a vacation, who do they trust most for advice and recommendations? Their friends. It makes perfect sense then that when Facebook users investigate different locales on TripAdvisor, the site prioritizes reviews posted by individuals linked to their Facebook account. They're not getting advice from a stranger who may have completely different travel or dietary preferences from their own. Those recommendations are coming from trusted friends, family members and acquaintances, making for a more organic form of advertising that still offers all of the persuasive advantages of 1:1 messaging.
1:1 marketing: The future of cross-channel advertising
Although some consumers still view data mining and targeted advertising with skepticism, the tide is turning. Thanks to Facebook, Google and other pioneers of personalized customer engagement strategies, people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of companies using their information to provide tailored services and offerings. Businesses need to stick with 1:1 marketing during this period of growing pains so they can reap the benefits it offers. Successfully implementing 1:1 marketing today requires a certain amount of restraint, but when you strike the right balance, the marketing opportunities are endless. Read more on data-driven marketing on our communications, media, & entertainment page.