Targeting can be a good idea.
To give customers relevant and useful information, companies use data-mining technologies to gather intelligence about online behaviors. By tracking consumers’ activities, companies can target messages to match interests and needs. Companies also can use tracking data to remember passwords to make surfing easier and auto-populate fields such as shipping instructions when shopping online.
No doubt, consumers welcome some tracking. But as technologies improve and tracking becomes more fine-tuned, marketers walk a thin line between what is acceptable and what is annoying — even creepy.
Shop online for an electric drill and soon every web page you visit includes ads for power tools. Search the web for a new home and real estate ads will follow you for days. And remember Target’s example of tracking gone awry? The discount retailer used targeting data to identify pregnant women and sent them personalized promotions — only to be questioned by a confused dad who didn’t understand why his teenage daughter was receiving mother-to-be offers (turns out his teen had bought a pregnancy test and was — to his surprise — expecting).
A June 2012 survey by marketing firm LoyaltyOne measured consumers’ opinions on how companies used personal information. E-marketers take note: Although 78% of respondents said they see no benefit in sharing personal information with companies they do business with, 62% were open to it if it would bring them relevant information and product offers.
Although members share their information with you, getting too close — especially when it comes to online tracking — can be, well, creepy.
Many consumers expect convenience and relevant information from those they do business with. Yet these same consumers are quick to call out a company they believe is too personal when it comes to their privacy. Keep in mind that sending messages — even those that seem pertinent and timely — might make some people uncomfortable. Personalized messages are important, but know your members’ limits.
Here are four ways to draw the line between good and questionable targeting practices:
1. Give members control.
Let members choose what personal information to share. Ask only for the data you will use, and tell them why you’re asking for it. Then respect members’ wishes. This includes mobile phone and tablet preferences, too. Create a process for members to update preferences annually.
2. Provide an opt-out link.
It’s frustrating to get the runaround when you want to opt out of an email or mobile distribution list. Your credit union will gain credibility by making the opt-out process clear-cut for your members. Make the link easy to find and simple to complete. Although members might have initially requested your messages, things change. Don’t take it personally.
3. Grow the relationship first.
As members’ relationships and trust grow with your credit union, they are more likely to share personal information and welcome targeted communications. Take time to nurture the credit union-member connection. If a member isn’t active or is fairly new, keep personalization to a minimum.
It has never been easier to get personal to serve your members. E-marketers have the tools, programs, and technologies to target more effectively, but take a cue from your members and know when you’re getting too close for comfort. With well-planned communications, your members will find benefit — and not creepiness — in your targeting efforts.
Ron Daly is the president/CEO of DigitalMailer, Inc. DigitalMailer provides the self-service digital communication tools today’s financial institutions need in their virtual branch as well as the expertise and resources to use them in their eStrategy to Connect. Communicate. Grow! To learn more, visit www.digitalmailer.comor call 866-994-4900.