The Creep Factor:How to Collect and Use Customer Info Without Overstepping

The Creep Factor: How to Collect and Use Customer Info Without Overstepping

Customer data is a crucial driving force behind many business decisions. It helps you understand what a person needs from your brand and develop a meaningful relationship with them.

But there’s a fine line between knowing who your customers are and overstepping the mark. With the rise of AI technology, customers are becoming warier about how information is used.

This is because using sensitive information in digital marketing can feel invasive. Customers may not realize it’s to help improve or highlight a product; instead, they think they’re under surveillance.

If customers become paranoid, they may distrust you and turn toward other brands they feel have set boundaries. This raises several challenges for digital marketers. 

Just how do you leverage good customer data without pushing them away? How do you create personalized experiences in this new age of data privacy? Let’s explore these questions in detail.

Four ways of avoiding being creepy to customers

Below, you’ll learn four ways to leverage information without overstepping your boundaries:

  1. Be open and clever about data collection

In today’s business world, we can analyze so much about customers—from demographics to user activity, what they buy or add to their baskets, time spent on a webpage, when they click off, and more.

Even now, marketers are developing ways of reading customer expressions in-store to gauge mood and behavior. For the customer, these practices can be pretty scary. While these insights may boost sales, they are verging on intrusive.

This is because customers may consent to some information and not others. Receiving messages that use this intimate information they never agreed to share can be a turning point for them.

For that reason, digital marketing should aim to practice data minimization. This is when you reduce the amount of information you collect, prioritizing only relevant things. Additionally, data will only be kept for as long as necessary.

It will not only focus your marketing but also reassure the customer of the purpose of your task. Having an easy-to-read privacy policy is another way of keeping customers informed. They may feel empowered if they know what is and isn’t being recorded.

  1. Don’t rely solely on artificial intelligence

While AI technology continues to revolutionize the world, it can also be a line in the sand for customers. That’s because attitudes toward using AI tools are still met with immense suspicion.

Research from 2023 found that 80% of customers felt AI-gathered information would be used in a way that wasn’t originally intended. As such, brands must use AI in a responsible manner and convince customers of its integrity. But how? 

One of the best ways to embrace the power of AI is to use a blended approach. A blended approach means marketers use AI tools to enhance marketing. Marketers will still make critical decisions about gathering, analyzing, and acting on data.

  1. Don’t be afraid to “mix up” your marketing

While many digital marketers aim for personalization, there is room for experimentation. The “surprise and delight” method involves using random information to engage with customers.

Marketing may send customers a tailored list of recommended items but include other items for which they have little data to back up. This can reduce the intrusive nature of the message. Customers may be reassured that the marketing isn’t bordering on surveillance.

Best of all, mixing up your messaging can help you discover new opportunities that may have been ignored or overlooked.

  1. Consider rewards and loyalty programs

Loyalty programs have become one of the most effective ways of using customer data. Customers receive special discounts, rewards, and benefits in return for sharing information.

Research from KPMG found that up to 75% of customers would switch brands for better loyalty programs. This shows the growing importance of providing topical rewards.

Digital marketers can use these programs to their advantage. They can gather relevant intel on buying habits, spending, and other behaviors.

From this, a brand can boost sales by targeting customers with high-purchasing intent. All the while, you’re engaging with customers who’ve consented to the process.

The final word on “creepy” marketing

Digital marketing is in a unique position right now. Never before have there been so many tools and methods for collecting customer data.

But how you use this information has become central. As this article has demonstrated, there is a balance between over-personalizing marketing and creeping your customer out.

By being open about your data collection and mixing up your messaging, you can help customers see the value of sharing their details.

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