Too Close For Comfort: Avoiding Personalization Creep

With GDPR now in effect, it may be time to review your personalization program. Are your emails creeping people out? 

There is a fine line between personalizing content and showing that you know too much about the recipient, according to Overcoming the Personalization vs. Privacy Paradox, a new paper from Jebbit. Worse, you can turn people off by knowing too little.

Jebbit surveyed 100 people. Although that is not a large scientific sample, the findings do shed light on attitudes.

Email appears to have an advantage in trustworthiness -- 43% expect to have personalized experiences via the channel.

In contrast, only 25% anticipate seeing them on websites, and 22% in social ads.

Still, 64% have experienced “creepy” personalization, and 58% have broken ties with a brand over poorly personalized messages.

When it comes to their personal data, 40% want tighter control, and 26% want complete ownership in terms of who can use it. Next, 21% demand transparency and 15% want equity.



In short, consumers want some personalization, but not too much. They also desire control over their data along with transparency and respect, the study states.

Jebbit advises brands to be wary about using third-party data. It asked 100 individuals to access the information contained on them in a “well regarded third-party data vendor’s registry.” They reported that it was only 34% accurate.

“Because third-party data comes from an entity without a direct relationship with consumers, it is also the biggest offender in privacy disputes and runs a greater risk of inaccuracy,” the report states.

What kind of personalization creeps people out the most? According to Jebbit, Accenture found in a survey that consumers are disturbed by:

  • Text from a brand or retailer when walking by a store — 41%
  • Mobile notification after walking by a store — 40%
  • Text from a brand or retailer when walking by a store — 41%
  • Ads on social site for items browsed on a brand website — 35%

Want to avoid infuriating your audience? Here are some tips from Jebbit on data usage.

  • Throw out inaccurate, irrelevant, outdated, and/or illegal data.
  • Determine what data you actually need.
  • Source responsibly.

All this is critical in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the falloff in consumer trust.

Jebbit concludes that the sentiments shown above “are here to stay and as demand for personalized experiences continues to grow, marketers will need to look beyond the right-time, right-piece tactics of the past and begin having two-way, transparent digital conversations.” 

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