Happy Halloween!

But beyond just Halloween – it’s holiday season. You know what season I’m talking about – the one where you’ll be walking down shopping aisles and all of a sudden, a huge marketing sign will read “Our Biggest Holiday Sale Yet! Are You Prepared?” and even though it’s only the end of October, you’ll start thinking about what presents and decorations you need to buy for the holidays. Playing on anxiety is clever – it provides a need to get your shopping completed.

But playing on anxiety while personalizing it to fit your shopping style is genius, isn’t it? And perhaps, it is a little spooky.

For example, I’ve been searching for “white tee shirt dresses” across Google for my Halloween costume. While on Facebook one afternoon, I noticed an ad for that same search pop up – but this time, it contained my exact size. I didn’t have to go to the website, click on a size, wonder if it would fit, then add to shopping cart. This Facebook feed had everything – a one-click to purchase.

Of course, my computer’s cookies remembered the previous size I had selected. In this instance, personalization was beneficial to me as a buyer.

It created less hassle in getting what I wanted. However, after I bought the dress, I kept seeing it pop up with a reminder of my size.

The pre-purchase versus the post-purchase buying experience made me wish I never turned the cookies on since it has now become an annoyance.

Another example of spooky personalization comes from a co-worker of mine. She recently started a bucket list and placed visiting Yellowstone at the top of this list. After talking to a few friends/family members and doing some preliminary research, she received the email below.

Be it coincidence or retagging, she found this email to be very creepy. In the age of data, it seems like more and more information is being gathered that has the potential to be misused, so it is important that marketers be mindful of their message and pause to think about how the consumer would see it.

By simply framing this email as a question rather than a statement, she thinks the creepy factor would automatically dwindle (i.e Bucket List: YELLOWSTONE?).

Subject Line: Bucket List: YELLOWSTONEyellowstone email

On the flip side, personalization doesn’t have to be a negative factor. Another co-worker of mine talked about how even more personalization marketing could have benefitted her. She made a purchase for her daughter, but noticed the “You May Also Like” products didn’t necessarily align with the purchase or interests.

The opportunity to use past purchase information in these recommendations could have helped driven incremental purchases and thus revenue.

One last positive of using personalization is how it can act as a reminder. A colleague received an email from a deodorant company reminding her (with using her name) that it was time to buy again. It calculated when she first bought the product and deduced when she might run out of it. Intelligent? Yes. Creepy? Just a little. But useful? Yes.

Whether you get an email with your name in it (sparking you to wake up and maybe click the ad) or see ads trailing you on the world wide web, personalization isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

In fact, it’s only going to stretch deeper into our shopping habits.

As a marketer, we must be careful to not overstep someone’s privacy while being proactive about what we are selling.

Living in the world of data, there are a plethora of ways to target customers – data based on store distances, a customer’s age, gender, size, shopping preferences and more. How are you going to use your customer’s information to build a healthy consumer to company relationship?

Happy holidays, [insert name here]!