Why There’s Nothing Spooky About Relevant, Helpful Marketing

As Halloween approaches, it might be time for marketers to confront their fears about ‘spooky marketing’ and the idea that consumers react negatively to campaigns and interactions that learn from user behavior. Here’s why.

Imagine I arrive at a restaurant this evening to be met by a smiling Maitre d’ who greets me by name, comments on my fabulous attire, seats me at my favorite table and suggests a particular aperitif that may be to my liking.

Is this experience supposed to upset me? I think most people would classify this as fantastic service, and few indeed would consider it to be spooky or unsettling in any way shape or form. So why do we assume the same will be true when perfectly personalized experiences are delivered in the digital environment?

The Source Of Spookiness

I believe what most people regard as ‘spooky’ are simply poorly executed campaigns that make their workings painfully obvious and yet fail to be particularly relevant at the same time (quite an achievement).

On the other hand, campaigns that build on a genuine ‘whole customer’ understanding (and I include every channel in that) and that go even further — by taking account of any other relevant data that may be available to the marketer - are far more likely to be both relevant and helpful, and most importantly not spooky at all.

In case anyone refuses to accept my earlier restaurant example, consider this. I am in town, a good 30 minutes from home, but nevertheless walking in that direction. It begins to rain. My phone vibrates. Uber is letting me know a cab is just a tap of a screen and one minute away. Useful? Absolutely. Spooky? I don’t think so.

What Happens Next

That example leads me naturally to where marketing, and mobile marketing, is moving towards. I recently gave a webinar on ‘propensity modelling’ and mobile, and this truly represents a new development in spookiness: basing our campaigns and targeting not on what users have done in the past, but on what they might do in the future.

One is, of course, the flip-side of the other. We ultimately predict what will happen in the future based on a complex set of signals relating to the past. This is new because we can now make those predictions more accurately than ever before — thanks to the vast amounts of customer data now available to us, and the computing power being available to perform the type of analysis that makes our predictions accurate.

In that environment, mobile marketers — in fact any digital marketers — are able to step in at just the right time. To be there when needed, and silent when not. To provide help, and insert the brand into the consumer lifestyle in a way that is beneficial for all.

And there’s nothing spooky about that!

About the Author

Tom Farrell is the VP of Marketing at Swrve. Tom has over 20 years experience in consumer marketing, both with some of the world’s leading brands and in the tech ecosystem that supports them. Tom has been involved in mobile marketing for over six years and has worked with major app businesses to deliver successful campaigns and experiences on mobile.

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