You’re out to lunch with some friends when you run into an acquaintance. You start to introduce this person to your friends, only to realize you don’t remember the guy’s name. And it turns out he doesn’t like to be introduced as “this man I know.”

Not a great impression for your new friend.

Now, let’s say you’re in the same scenario, and another acquaintance drops in. You don’t want to repeat the same mistake, so you tell the visitors your new friend’s name, his shoe size, the amount of money in his bank account, and his high school SAT scores.

That’s entering stalker territory, and your new friend will hit the road as quickly as he can.

Marketers often fall into one of these two categories. They don’t get personal enough, or they get so personal that it comes off as creepy. The question is, then, how do you hit that personalization sweet spot?

Related: 6 Must-Have Elements of a Great Website design

Be Transparent

If you don’t want to be a marketing stalker, you need to let your visitors know you collect personal information via cookies. Go over the information you collect and tell them why you do it. This lets people know that you will get personal, so they’ll be less likely to get creeped out.

Let People Opt Out

No matter how transparent you are, some people simply don’t want companies to know that much about them. Give people the option to opt out of some of the data you collect, such as personalized text-messaging and location-based tracking.

Don’t Get Too Personal

Personalized content is great, but sometimes, companies get a little too personal. Except for emails that use a person’s name, marketing messages should never seem like they are going to a single person. That’s what happens when you use someone’s browsing history to show them a customized ad based on an exact search they did and that would only benefit them. People get creeped out by these, so avoid this rookie mistake.

Related: How to Raise Engagement with Super-Personalized Print Pieces

Consider the Context

Context is also important when personalizing communications. Think about the channel you’re using. Email is typically private, so you can get a little more personal there. That’s a great spot to make product suggestions based on the person’s likes and dislikes. You still don’t want to get too specific, but some level of personalization is welcomed.

However, social media isn’t nearly as private. What if someone is looking over a user’s shoulder and sees a personalized ad for alcohol detox or extra strong deodorant that uses their name and mentions their browsing history? Those are private matters and shouldn’t be blared across channels.

You also want to avoid over-personalization on your website copy. Contextual marketing can be a great tool to increase conversions and supply relevant information to your website visitors. However, you want to be careful not to cross the line. The idea is to be helpful, not intrusive.

Related: How to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Get Personal, Not Creepy

Personalization is an excellent way to increase your click-through rates and form fills. However, there is a fine line between personalization and stalking. Just like a lunch date with a new friend, you need to know the person’s name and some other information. But if you know too much, you’ll be removed from the contact list and never contacted again.

Worried about how to walk that fine line so you don’t become a creepy marketing stalker? The digital marketing team at Ironmark are personalization experts. We can help you boost your conversions without creeping people out. We are masters of walking the line and improving customer relations. Schedule a chat to get started.


Written by Chris McCready

Chris McCready directs strategy and implementation for Ironmark’s digital marketing clients. Her 15 years of experience within a variety of agencies across the country has provided a wealth of knowledge and expertise within market research, branding, digital strategy, social media, marketing automation and web development. Under her direction, strategic marketing plans for Ironmark clients result in increased brand awareness, visibility, lead generation and revenue.

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