Marketing Personalization Versus Stalking: Tips to Make Sure You Don’t Cross the Line

February 18, 2016 Monika Jansen

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Marketing personalization is very, very important if you want your campaigns to succeed in 2016. However, there’s a fine line between personalization versus stalking that you definitely don’t want to cross. Follow these tips to stay on the right side of that line.

Put a privacy policy in place

Depending on your business, your clients likely share quite a bit of information with you – personal, business, habits, preferences, buying behavior, finances, etc. Don’t abuse the trust they place in you, or you could be accused of creepy – or illegal – activities.

The best way to avoid any unpleasantness? A privacy policy. Talk to your attorney about putting one place.

Mix up your marketing

Mixing up your marketing is good advice across the board, but when it comes to email marketing, it’s super important. Intersperse personalized emails with those that are more generic. You’ll avoid stalker behavior and you’ll continue to be top-of-mind.

Don’t get too friendly too fast

Imagine what would happen if you sent nothing but highly personalized emails immediately after someone makes their first purchase. What if that person were buying a gift for someone or making the purchase on behalf of, say, her boss? A highly personal email campaign would be a huge turnoff – and it could send your new client fleeing in the other direction.

Definitely play it cool with the personalization until you better understand client preferences, behavior, interests, etc. One way you can do this is by asking. Send out an automated email to new clients (triggered by their first purchase) asking about preferences, interests, etc.

Always consider context

Context can take several forms, but let’s consider location first. You wouldn’t send a snow day special email to your clients in, say, Miami or Los Angeles. Likewise, you wouldn’t invite your East Coast clients to a West Coast event happening in a few days.

Timing is important, too. If you hold a monthly workshop on the same topic, you’ll want to remove past attendees from that email list. However, if you decide to offer a new workshop on a different topic, you’ll definitely want to email all past workshop attendees.

Avoid overwhelming them

Everyone’s email inboxes are already overwhelmed, so be careful about email frequency. Every day is definitely a no-no, but every few days or once a week is likely OK. Your open and click-through rates will tell you.

If you use retargeting, tread lightly here as well. I looked up a specific pair of Salvatore Ferragamo loafers for a blog post I wrote a few months ago, and then I suffered through a relentless retargeting campaign. When it finally stopped, I was relieved.

Have you stepped up your small business’s marketing personalization efforts? What have you done? How well has it worked so far?

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Author information

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at

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