By Eric Schaal

Your customers know about the creepy side of personalization in marketing. Maybe they read about it in The New York Times in 2012, when Target’s computers spotted the habits of a pregnant woman and sent a mailer advertising maternity products to a teenage girl. (Her father was furious but later apologized when he learned his daughter was, in fact, pregnant.)

That side of personalization is enough for the market to sour on your brand. On the other hand, when you use data to create value in someone’s life – and do it gradually – you have the chance to earn a customer’s loyalty for the long term. Striking the right balance is the key, and brands can refine their approach with proven techniques outlined in sessions at &THEN 2017.

From Implicit to Explicit Personalization

Once consumers get the hang of online shopping, they come to expect ads for products based on their search history. Ernan Roman, president of ERDM and the author of several works on Voice of the Customer (VoC) insights, has detailed the frustrations of tech-savvy consumers as they continue with their browsing habits.

During Roman’s VoC research, he noticed several key ideas for brands to understand when attempting personalization:

  • Savvy consumers know their data is being used
  • They are willing to explicitly provide data in exchange for value
  • However, they think brands are terrible at it

Those lengthy disclaimers and not-subtle pop-ups describing an implicit browsing contract do not work wonders for brands trying to improve transparency in marketing efforts. While Roman has discussed ways to improve personalization during the purchase process, he is focusing on new insights regarding the Reciprocity of Value Equation at &THEN 2017.

Brands Bringing Test Cases

Detroit-based Shinola and TIAA are two brands that saw success in the past year with personalization strategies, and marketers from both companies will join Roman for a session on Day Two of &THEN.

Michael Gannon, VP of content marketing for TIAA, comes bearing insights on what is and isn’t working with persona-based strategies for his company. Roman framed the issue this way: “Whereas personas were once a good starting point to identify ‘buckets’ of customers, the limitations of persona-based marketing have become apparent as the consumer decision-making journey veered from its predictable linear path and increased in complexity.” TIAA is adapting accordingly.

Representing Shinola, Director of Ecommerce Dennis Kopitz will showcase his company’s success in customer retention through more personalized experiences. Kopitz spoke about the need for deeper understandings. “We need to obtain deep human insights regarding who buys which category of our products, why they buy, what their needs and expectations are, and what they want next from us,” he told Roman in February.

Consumers are clearly ready for personalization 2.0. The question is whether your brand is ready to deliver on it.

This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and explore how data transforms marketing in New Orleans, October 8-10. Save over $400 with early-bird pricing when you register before July 13.