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Personalization: The Line Between Customization and Creepy

By Jamie Beckland | Posted on March 22, 2016

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Recently, Janrain presented a webinar on cross-channel personalization and participated in a panel discussion about how brands can engage their consumers through personalized customer journeys. Several great discussions emerged during the webinar, but one in particular stood out an audience member asked the panel “where do you draw the line between personalization and being creepy?”

Every brand should be asking themselves this question and how it applies to their marketing tactics. At a high level, there are three key ways brands can collect information to personalize marketing to each customer, while still not crossing the line into creepy territory.

Asking for the right information

Asking for the right kind of information is paramount to personalizing the customer journey. This means asking for customer information that is relevant to your brand. It doesn’t make sense for a radio station to ask for a customer’s shoe size because it doesn’t relate to what they provide as a business. Yet, it would be perfectly reasonable for a shoe store to ask that question. Know what your brand wants to accomplish with the information you are requesting and make sure that it is relevant to the consumer. This leads directly to the next point.

Providing Value
Along with asking for relevant information, you need to explain what the customer would receive in exchange for their information. If you’re asking for a birthdate, let your customer know why it is necessary or how it could improve their experience. Is it for legal compliance? Or do you want to send a special gift to their email on their birthday? Be transparent about why you want information. This can ease the customer’s worries about providing the information you desire.

Progressive Profiling

Last, but certainly not least, is the concept of progressive profiling. Establishing a rapport with customers over time through proactive outreach builds trust and a strong affinity between the two parties. As the brand fulfills promises, customers are more willing to offer up their valuable information.

Brands who abide by these key tenets, while enacting their personalization strategies, will be able to create strong connections with their customers and provide the best, most personalized experiences for their customers — without being creepy about it.

Be sure to check out the on demand version of the webinar to learn more about cross-channel personalization here.

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About the author

Jamie Beckland

VP of Product

Jamie has been delivering custom web solutions for more than 10 years, and built his first social media community in 2004. Prior to Janrain, Jamie led the emerging media practice at White Horse, and has worked as a marketer and technologist with clients including Coca-Cola, Financial Times, Samsung, Wells Fargo, L’Occitane, The Brooking Institution, and many others. He frequently speaks about technology trends and writes for Mashable, Social Media Examiner, iMediaConnection, AdAge, and other publications.

View all posts by Jamie Beckland