When Does Marketing Cross Over to Creepy and Annoying?

April 2, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer-Centric | Data-driven | Personalization | Privacy & Security

Despite personalization proving successful for the majority of marketers, most people can describe a time when they’ve been stalked across the internet by something they’ve looked at online. And according to SmarterHQ’s new report [download page], a “personalized” experience can cross a line into creepy and annoying, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers surveyed saying they’ve stopped buying from a brand that employed poor personalization activities.

Being targeted too many times is one such creepy marketing activity that two-thirds (66%) of survey respondents find to be annoying, while being targeted for too long a period is annoying for almost half (44%).

Even with efforts to make consumers feel special through personalization, 4 in 10 (41%) consumers find it annoying when a brand considers them as just another sale. Other annoyances for consumers include being targeted for items they have already purchased (39%) and for items they’re browsing or purchasing as a gift (37%).

With personalization showing positive ROI for many companies, it’s worth looking at the reasons why consumers find some marketing tactics creepy. For almost 3 in 5 respondents (57%), creepy marketing tactics are those that make them aware that their data is being used to sell them more products. A majority (54%) feel that marketing is creepy when there’s no option to opt out.

Roughly 4 in 10 respondents, meanwhile, believe that marketing crosses over into being creepy when they’re not told how their data will be used by brands (41%), or when they’re aware that their data was being tracked (40%). Data protection regulations such as GDPR have been put in place to try and prevent such issues.

Website chat pop-ups using AI to communicate emerged as the creepiest marketing tactic for consumers. Even though consumers tend to be positive about AI generally, RichRelevance research has found that they weren’t as keen about it when it came to their shopping experience.

Of the 5 creepiest marketing tactics named by survey respondents, three were based on push notifications. Consumers were particularly disturbed by push notifications that featured products they had previously looked at, reminded them to re-purchase items that needed to be replaced over time, and suggested products based on things they had bought in the past.

The full report is available to download here.

About the Data: SmarterHQ surveyed more than 1,000 consumers on their privacy concerns, channel affinity, brand experiences and personalization preferences.

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