Why I'm cool with behavioral targeting

Why I'm cool with behavioral targeting
Why I'm cool with behavioral targeting

Like many customers, I don't fit neatly into a demographic bucket. I'm a 48-year-old woman with what I like to call an 18-year-old-boy gene. In other words, I like action flicks, junk food, and muscle cars. If marketers were to look solely at my demographics, they'd undoubtably send offers or campaigns my way that make sense to them, but not to me. Not that all the marketing communications I receive are completely off-target. But many aren't even a near-miss.

In fact, I just received an email from Ford touting its spiffy new Escape SUV. (Excuse me while I stifle a yawn.) Feeling a bit snarky, I hit reply and penned the following:

“Dear Ford,

Seriously? I own a Mustang. You know I do. I follow Mustang on Twitter and liked it on Facebook. I've clicked through emails you've sent me to go search your site for Mustang paraphernalia and badges, check out the current model, and "customize" my dream Mustang (three times!). I've clicked through Mustang ads (and Camaro ads, not that you'd know that). I've never once expressed any interest in an SUV. Why on earth would you email me about the Escape? It may be all new, with cool features and whatever, but clearly I'm interested in sports cars, not sports utility vehicles. You may want to reconsider your segmentation strategy. Thanks for thinking of me, though.”

I still have the email in my drafts folder. I hesitate to send it; likely it will get to the customer service center, and then land in a black hole. Also, it's not that Ford was wrong; its approach was just suboptimal. So I decided to share the story here instead. Hopefully, I will inspire you to go after that marketing Holy Grail: the holistic customer view. Because, add some transactional and behavioral data to demographics and that's when things get interesting.

The situation is this: Looking at just my demographic data—age, income, geography, and the like—it makes sense to Ford to pitch me its Escape. But if the company had looked beyond those basics and considered all my activity around the Mustang—most of which Ford should have access to—it would have sent me an email for the 2013 Mustang instead of the 2013 Escape.

So go ahead, Marketers, track me. If it'll make your campaigns more relevant and engaging, then do it. Please.

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