Marketing is getting increasingly personalized. Mobile technology in particular is making it easier than ever for marketers to personalize their message to consumers. But “personalization” doesn’t necessarily mean “personal.” Personalization is a blunt instrument. It’s often inaccurate. And when marketing tries to personalize, but misses the mark, the effect can be more annoying that not personalizing at all.
Awkward personalization happens at every Starbucks where the barista tries to guess the spelling of your name. There’s a funny meme of Starbucks name fails (including Virginia). A couple weeks ago, someone put out a video profiling a Starbucks barista who butchers everyone’s name for sport.
I think the awkward name personalization at Starbucks is symbolic of where marketers are with personalization in general. Pinterest recently sent a congratulatory email to many women with the message “you’re getting married!” because these women had pinned a lot of wedding-related pictures. Unfortunately, many of these women were single. Pinterest drew inferences from site behavior that ultimately wasn’t correct.
It will be interesting to watch how brands continue to experiment with personalization. As the technology improves, and the the inferences become more accurate, it will be interesting to see if and how consumers welcome personalized contact.
Here’s a cartoon I drew on the Future of Advertising last year. I’m interested in your thoughts on how marketers should incorporate personalization.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)