Is Your Marketing Creepy?

By: Michelle Law  | 10/28/2015

In the spirit of Halloween, let's talk spoooooky marketing!  In digital marketing, it is ideal to use personalized ads to drive sales, but at what point do we creep out our audience? With new marketing technologies, it has become a fine line to walk. We have insights on visitor demographics, user interests, webpages visited, geo-location, and more. It is necessary to create relevant and tailored ads to your target audience, but have you stepped over that line?

Here are 3 examples of the line being crossed

  1. We all have been a victim on Amazon’s remarketing ads. The product you held off purchasing will haunt you persistently across the internet until you surrender. While remarketing has become a fairly accepted tactic, there are still guidelines to follow.
    • Be transparent about the data you are collecting in your privacy policy.
    • Set frequency caps on ad impressions per viewer.
    • Be aware of sensitive or private content (engagement rings, illnesses, etc.).
    • Use negative audience lists to refine the audience.
    • Use ad variations, so viewers aren’t seeing the same ad every time.
    • Set site exclusions so your ads are not showing inappropriately.

    Here is an example of a remarketing ad that is inappropriately placed in this context:
    Or what would be your reaction if you saw this remarketing ad on your husband’s computer?    

  1. Are you sending creepy emails or personalized emails? Sending off-putting emails can do more than give the opener goosebumps, it can effect sales. A recent study in April 2015, found that a “creepiness factor” led to a 5% reduction in consumer purchasing interest. As an emailing best practice, you should start by just using the name or company name and then as a relationship develops move into behavior personalized emails.

    It is unnecessary to list out every action taken by the lead. Why not take the helpful approach and share the pricing upfront?


  1. We love the power and analytics gained from the amazing marketing automation tools out there! What we don’t love is the data being used inappropriately. While many marketers are aware of the data collected, most people are not. (And just because we visited your website does not mean we are ready to buy!) Be careful how you unload this information to potential opportunities. This information should give you more knowledge going into meetings, not more content to share.

    Yes, this was a real sales email that was sent to us:


The bottom line

Just because you have all this data doesn’t mean that you should use it all of the time. You have to figure out how your business works and where you can use highly personalized targeting based on observed behaviors without being creepy. At the end of the day, you need to know how comfortable YOUR audience is with these tactics. What works for one industry will not work for others. Above all, use common sense.
Have you encountered a creepy marketing or sales tactic? Share your experience in the comments below!


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