Personal Posts

When Internet Marketing Gets Creepy – I Think It’s Cool

When Internet Marketing Gets Creepy via @chgdiapers

We’ve all seen the Google ads that use your internet history to market to you. After I bought a pair of Frye shoes for my husband to wear as best man in a wedding, I got their ads for weeks. Call me a sucker but these sometimes work on me. I’d bought Primal Pit Paste and had poked around their site considering buying a stick. As their ads followed me around it stayed on my mind and I finally bought. This type of cookie based ad has led to some very interesting ads after I have done research for one of my clients, wholly unrelated to any desires of mine!

You may have heard how Target knows you’re pregnant based on your shopping habits (and no, not buying prenatal vitamins) and a lot of people are really creeped out about it. My nerdy self is fascinated by it all and was highly impressed when some advanced marketing got me recently.

There’s a store that has a kids division, a teen division and an adult division. We’ve purchased two beds, some bedding & various other things from the kids website. We’ve received the teen catalogs in the mail, but I’ve never registered on their site. As my daughter approaches 10, she’s hoping for a more grown-up bedroom and we had perused the teen site a few times in the last year looking at bedding. She asked if new things for her room could be her Christmas gift and I did some window shopping myself, then looked at the site with her to figure out what she liked.

My husband and I did the math & decided on what we’d go ahead and get her. In fact, I added the items to my Amazon wish list so I’d remember what we’d picked. I considered going ahead & buying now but figured it was a bit too early and thought I’d wait to see if a coupon came along.

The next day, I received an email entitled “Hurry! 15% off your order ends SOON.” The email said it was “for our best customers,” included a unique 12-digit coupon code, and expired in just two days.

I assume they knew who I was based on my IP address, even though I wasn’t signed in & didn’t even have an account for that division. My shopping habits mirrored those of a consumer who was ready to buy vs. browsing and they didn’t want to lose me. After all, if I didn’t buy today, I might see something else in a store tomorrow and buy it instead. They got my attention with the urgent email title, flattered me, and the unique code told me this was something special.

It worked. My Christmas shopping is done and I saved 15%.

via GoComics - Found on Pinterest
via GoComics – Found on Pinterest

I’m absolutely fascinated by marketing & analytics. In fact I took (and passed – likely barely) Google Analytics training & certification although I think I need to take it a second time & be able to practice more. The nitty gritty details of how a consumer behaves, whether in store or online, can tell a company a lot about them, and how to effectively market to them. There are some stores that have tried sending a discount when a cart is abandoned, but this is easily exploited when consumers figure it out. Others send a reminder email any time a cart is abandoned. This was far more precise than that. They knew I was ready to buy even though I didn’t add a thing to my cart. This targeted marketing allows companies to spend their dollars in ways that make the most sense for them and you.

I know many have concerns about the information that’s “out there” about them. I’m sure if you pieced it all together for me (as an anonymous shopper, no name, social media profiles etc.) you would be able to tell how old I am, where I live, what our income is, what cars we drive, how old our kids are and probably how we take our coffee. 😉

The only way to avoid this is to pay in all cash, don’t use any loyalty cards, use private browsing online and perhaps leave yourself feeling like a criminal.

How to you feel about advanced marketing techniques? Cool or creepy?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Lara
    October 27, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I don’t really have a problem with it either — I was just browsing baby things on and Target mailed me a catalog with a coupon for a free $20 giftcard if I make a baby registry with them. Can’t beat that!! (They had my address because I have their debit card and have shipped stuff here before)

    • October 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Target seems to send me a $10 off $75 coupon in the mail anytime it’s been a while since I dropped a wad of cash there, LOL!

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