Personalization vs Intrusion – Which Works Best?

Understanding Intrusion vs. Personalization

As the internet and marketing have grown together, so has our ability to personalize services for customers. And although some users may like the aspect of having such tailored services, other users may feel as if this technology has become more intrusive rather than convenient.

Let’s take a look at Facebook, for example. In 2012, Facebook implemented a new program that took one’s web browser history in order to show them Facebook ads based on their past searches.

Although this personalization was made to improve users’ experiences, Facebook received a lot of backlash. Some viewed the advancement to be somewhat invasive and unwarranted. Many people were uneasy, rather than excited, to see that their past searches had somehow crept their way onto their Facebook pages.

Now let’s take a look at Google. Google has an automated search suggestion engine. If a user starts a search, it will then suggest certain words based on your past searches or common searches.

Although Google offered a personalized service, its algorithms were never accused of privacy invasion. Why? Most likely because users expected it. It’s not at all surprising that Google takes information from its own web browsing data in order to improve user experiences.

But when users saw that two unrelated web pages were now integrated and communicating with one another, that was unexpected and therefore caused a different reaction. Even though the end goal of the new Facebook program was to eliminate generalized ads that users had no interest in, it was an unforeseen advancement that made people question whether or not they were in charge of their privacy.


How To Use Personalization To Your Advantage

It goes without saying that certain marketing practices may be a hit with some users, while being a miss with others. And to put it simply, marketing personalization should not be avoided. So how do you personalize your ads and marketing strategies without scaring customers away?

The key here is finding the grey area between the black and white or, rather, the grey area between intrusion and personalization. This grey area can come in many different forms and could be something as simple as asking for permission.

Adding a simple pop up message saying, “Would you give us permission to use your web browsing history to show you ads/products/services that are best tailored to you?” can change the tone of your marketing strategy. This message shows customers two things. 

  1. You are dedicated to giving them the best-suited treatment for their personal situation.
  2. You aren’t crossing boundaries and invading their privacy.

Another viable option could be to retarget your ads. As we’ve seen with Facebook, over personalization does exist and can tend to freak people out. Therefore, it may be more efficient to create an algorithm that is a bit more subtle. Instead of showing ads of the exact sweater that a user almost bought last week, show a general ad for the clothing store.

Other small things can be done as well in order to meet the privacy line, but not cross it. Adding in pop up warnings about where data comes from is an option that will notify users of where information is coming from, eliminating any surprises.

If you want an option that gives some control to your users, you could also alter your website’s settings. You can give users an option as to what data and sites they will allow to be synced with your website. These settings can help illustrate a respectful dynamic of your relationship with your customer, as you’re keeping them informed and giving them options.

Users do like personalization. It’s convenient, saves time, and allows them to easily find the service or product that they’re searching for. But, at the same time, they like being in control of that personalization. So by using some of these alternatives, you’re taking away the intrusive aspect of digital marketing personalization.

– The Kamozi Team

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