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e-Commerce Industry News

April 29, 2014
Walking the fine line between effective promotion and annoyance
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April 29, 2014
Retailers need to avoid overstepping their boundaries. Retailers need to avoid
overstepping their boundaries.
Information can be a valuable asset to merchants, allowing them to fine-tune the shopping experience and improve promotional efforts to effectively engage returning shoppers and first-time prospects alike. At the same time, consumers are growing increasingly savvy about information privacy, particularly after Edward Snowden's leaks about the National Security Agency.

Although retailers are quite a few steps removed from anything the NSA was doing, the fact of the matter is that being too aggressive with collected data can make shoppers feel uncomfortable. There is a right way and wrong way to promote particular products to customers or otherwise try to personalize the shopping experience, and merchants need to avoid crossing the line if they want to make people feel at home in their online stores.

"Do you remember the first time you saw remarketing ads for the product you just viewed when you were on Facebook or one of your other favorite sites?" asked Practical eCommerce. "Many shoppers are not pleased to find out their behaviors can be tracked in that manner. Though remarketing is proving to be an effective conversion tool, it alienates many."

Avoid abusing promotion and personalization tactics
Retailers have a number of different options at their disposal when it comes to promoting products or personalizing the shopping experience. The key to avoiding annoyance is simply not overusing or abusing one specific strategy.

Don't post dozens of Facebook messages on a daily basis or spam people with newsletters. Don't hound customers to make a purchase just because they looked at a specific product page or placed an item in a shopping cart. Don't obsess over upselling every single item people purchase. Don't be irrelevant with personalization efforts - just because someone purchased an item once, doesn't mean they want recommendations based on that one order for years to come.

Information can be a powerful tool in the right hands. The problem comes when merchants overplay their hand. Data usage in personalization is often one of those instances where less truly is more. Retailers need to be aware of the line that exists between relevance and awareness, and ensure they are always on the correct side, respecting their customers as people vs. just viewing them as share of wallet.