Often, while browsing the Internet, I notice advertisements that pertain directly to items or topics I've just searched. When shopping at the mall, I'll suddenly receive an email that connects me with an offer for the very store I just left. The eerie wave of awareness stops me dead in my tracks and I wonder, where is Big Brother and how does he know my every move?As our world becomes increasingly social, marketers have begun to interact with consumers across all available channels, tracking search terms (and our whereabouts) as a way to better target their marketing messages and entice potential customers who have only researched a particular item or service. Without fail, I know I will receive a Coach email mere minutes after I leave one of their retail locations. Whether a coupon for their latest sale, or an advertisement for their upcoming line of bags, these messages aim to lure me back to make a purchase in the near future.
According to Brian Kardon, CMO at Eloqua, this knack for personalization comes from reading digital body language in real time in an effort to personalize emails and websites, eliminating the spam trap of irrelevant messaging. Because mass content rarely succeeds, companies are now searching for digital clues based on clicks and search terms.
Brian Goffman, CEO of Optify, refers to these developing tactics as Social Personalization 3.0, or SoPo. According to Goffman, the power of Facebook "likes" and your friends' preferences will also lead to networked recommendations, resulting in the targeted advertisements that appear on your sidebar. Geo-enabled marketing campaigns are also a growing concept as companies begin to explore the benefits of knowing precisely where their customers are, thanks to smartphone geo-location. "[Your smartphone] knows where you're located, so marketers can use this otherwise unavailable information to detect nearby stores and suggest coupons," Goffman says.
"As you get closer to a particular place, a trigger goes off in the marketing system and says, 'XYZ customer is now within range. Let me send out an offer based upon their behavior,'" adds Bob MacInnis, CIO at Extraprise. "Were they there yesterday? Were they there last month? What was their last type of purchase? Are they a lapsing customer, meaning they haven't been there in a while? This way you have the opportunity to make the right offer in the right place."
Much of the social data marketers collect stems from mobile behaviors, with tweets and status updates marking exactly what consumers are saying and where. In fact, our on-the-go society now spends more time browsing the web via mobile device than personal computer, making this transition to mobile data collection both logical and inevitable. But, as marketers begin to explore the opportunities that mobile marketing offers, we will soon become aware that practically every step we make will be traced. While it may sound like a futuristic concept from a classic novel, we can only hope that these tactics won't become too invasive over time.