CyberStalking– Tracking Your Every Movement Online: Apply Art of Re-Marketing to Convert Visits– Its Privacy Stupid…

We’ve all been there– you send an email or leave a voice mail for a customer and never hear back. So you try again, again… and again. You don’t want to be a pest, but why aren’t they responding? Did they receive the message or are they deliberately ignoring you?  Where do you draw the line to avoid becoming a ‘stalker’ or that crazy person who keeps calling and emailing?

We have become a data driven world, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but many times we focus on just ‘data’ to manage the percentages without any regard for the customer. We apply psychology and focus on how quickly we can get people (customers) through the maze. And how we can convince them to go for the bigger piece of cheese (your higher priced ‘thing’)…

According to Heath Shackleford; I went online several weeks ago to make a simple purchase. I knew what I needed and I found it: Great! I tried to buy it and several minutes later I was still fighting off– up-sell offers, special discounts, free subscriptions… I had to remove unwanted ‘extras’ from my shopping cart, 3 times; I had to click ‘no thanks’ at least 10 times…

Clearly, there was no thought for customer experience, only the psychology of how to get someone to buy more of ‘anything’, when they are just buying ‘something’… It’s ok to be smart, but just don’t get crazy; It’s fine to engage, suggest, personalize… but don’t be reckless and relentlessly harass and stalk your customers…

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In a study by Consumer Action: Internet users overwhelmingly disagree with the premise that online tracking is harmless if it just results in their being shown more relevant ads. With the vast majority of people feeling that they’ve lost control of their privacy, online; the right to control the information collected about them, online shows-up as very important to the survey respondents… the survey asks consumers if they– ‘see no harm’ in being tracked online. With most disagreeing, however, it’s possible that they see harm in it but are willing to accept it.

In fact, more than half of respondents ‘strongly’ (28%) or ‘somewhat’ (27%) agreed with the statement: ‘You believe that being tracked online is the price of using Internet’… The weight of research tends to favor the attitude that consumers are concerned about privacy and may not be willing to trade it for more relevant advertising…. In sum, the results indicate that while consumers are pessimistic about online tracking, they highly value the right to be able to exercise control over data collection… The study results suggests a certain amount of pessimism on the part of consumers:

  • Only 26% ‘strongly’ (11%) or ‘somewhat’ (15%) agreed with the statement: ‘Online marketers consider your privacy when you are online’.
  • Less than half ‘strongly’ (15%) or ‘somewhat’ (27%) agreed with the statement: ‘Online marketers are trying to save you time by using tracking to only send you ads about what you need or desire’.
  • Just 1 in 5 ‘strongly’ (11%) or ‘somewhat’ (10%) agreed that: ‘Companies that track you online make it clear what they are doing’.

In the article Stalking Your Every Move Via Smartphone by Jordyn Taylor writes: An article in the Wall Street Journal examined a slightly alarming new marketing trend: Businesses that use sensors placed discreetly around a city to track their customers’ daily habits and interests… For example; a Toronto-based company placed 200 playing card-sized sensors in different locations around the city’s downtown area. The sensors can track movements of any passers-by carrying WiFi-enabled smartphones…

That means the company’s clients knows when their customers are hitting-up various retail shops… The clients can then use that data to tailor marketing ploys aimed specifically at engaging that customer at that location… It sounds pretty crazy and intrusive, but apparently using sensors to analyze foot-traffic patterns and customer behavior is a trend that’s becoming popular in the world of marketing…

It’s outrageous to think that your trusty smartphones could give away your secrets to businesses without permission… According to Erika Morphy; some shopping centers are tracking visitors’ movements via their cell phone signals. The data they collect will be anonymous, they say; and its for the purposes of improving the shopper experience.

Also, they say that will alert shoppers that this tracking is happening, before hand; and thus give shoppers the option of turning-off their smartphones while in the mall… But, most people will not turn-off their phone, and they will be tracked, and their privacy compromised, and the result is that consumer resentment will continue to rise… It’s one thing to track someone’s behavior online, taking note of what they buy and over which products they linger and don’t buy; but to track in a shopping jaunt is downright creepy…

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In the article How Hundreds of Companies Are Tracking Me by Alexis C. Madrigal writes: A voyage into the invisible business that funds the web is surreal: Who are these companies and what do they want from me?  When I opened my browser, in my daily routine, and go to a popular ‘news’ website for the daily news; amazing things happens– in those milliseconds between the click to the news site, all hell breaks loss; my personal web information is quickly sent to a gaggle of traffic-logging sites, ad companies, search firms…

Then nearly instantaneously, companies can log my visit, place ads tailored for my eyes, and add this data to ever-growing online file about me… This personal encroachment happens to everyone, everywhere, on every device that uses the Internet… There’s nothing necessarily illegal about this subterranean data exchange; after all that’s how the system works– the advertising ecosystem is what supports the free online content…

Every move you make on the Internet is worth some tiny amount of money to someone, and a panoply of companies want to make sure that no step along your Internet journey goes unmonetized… Even if you are familiar with using data collection for targeted advertising, the number and variety of data collectors will astonish you… For example; in one recent 36-hour period of standard web surfing, the companies that tracked my movements on the Internet included, 105 companies…

And, while the big names, like; Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.– show-up on my list, bulk of these companies are smaller data and advertising businesses that form a shadow web of companies that are looking to engage you with all sorts of target advertising selected just for you. Presumably, these companies gather data without attaching it to your name; they use that data to show you ads that you’re statistically more likely to click… That’s the game and there is substantial money in it…

In the article What is Remarketing? by Angel Morales writes: It’s a word used frequently but it can mean different things to different people: So what is remarketing? As remarketing programs have been designed, built, and executed over the last 15 years, it’s been interesting to watch the term ‘remarketing’ morph into a myriad of different meanings; as vendors, consultants and analysts adapted definitions to fit their needs. Some believe it’s synonymous with shopping cart abandonment, while others use terms remarketing and retargeting interchangeably.

The clearest definition goes back to when it first became a commonly used online marketing term in late ’90s… And, according to that definition; remarketing is process of reengaging a visitor/customer based on a recent interaction with your brand, often in an automated fashion… It’s a simple definition with elements of several marketing approaches, e.g.; classic direct marketing, conversation marketing, behavioral marketing, and a dash of experiential optimization thrown in for good measure. The spirit of remarketing is simple as well. At its most basic, remarketing is about listening and reacting to what your customers/visitors are telling you through their actions with your brand…

Generally only 2% of web traffic converts to a sale on the first visit to a website, which means that only about 2% of people actually buy something the first time they go on a website… So, remarketing is designed to help companies reach the other 98% of users who don’t convert right away… This process is effective because it focuses on people who already know something about you, who visited your website, and who might have been very close to buying something from you… So, the basic idea behind remarketing is that it– won’t, can’t, doesn’t drive people to your site, but it can bring them back…

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However having said this– it’s the ‘what’ that makes remarketing different: Remarketing is different from traditional marketing efforts, whereas, traditional marketing is a process of identifying which visitors or customers may respond to a marketing effort– it tries to answers the question of ‘who’? Who needs your product, service? In remarketing, whether the communication has been positive or negative, customers have already responded in one way or another by having visited your website…

By selectively targeting users who have previously demonstrated an interest, the focus shifts from the target audience of ‘who’, to ‘what’… Thus, remarketing begins with path to reengage the ‘who’; by focusing on an existing opportunity, or the ‘what’. These opportunities are inherently temporal and event-driven, which makes it important to first listen then act, otherwise the chance to turn these prospects into customers is lost…

For it to work, it’s important to remember that even though customers are leaving your website without buying anything, it’s that information that is most important. Remarketing is process of finding relevant visitor information and providing an incentive for them to return to your website, and revisit your brand… But what is remarketing; Is it smart marketing or cyberstalking? The answer depends, and only the customer can judge!

If you’ve never been targeted by an online ad, then you’re probably just not paying much attention. According to an informal survey by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB); more than 80% of advertising campaigns involved tracking of some sort. The advertising business loves online tracking just about as much as privacy advocates hate it… According to Sarah Kessler; privacy advocates argue that online tracking undermines citizen rights and feels a little too big-brotherish for comfort… The industry’s response has been to improve self-regulation– largely by adding opt-out buttons to online behavioral advertising…

Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering what the big deal is: We might be slightly creeped-out when a particular ad follows us around Internet, but is that really a debate worth getting worked up about? According to Christopher Soghoian; consumers treat Internet ‘search engine box’ like their– psychiatrist, rabbi, priest, doctor… people type the most intimate things into– search engines, websites… primarily because they think they’re anonymous.  But, the fact is that you are not anonymous and most sites are tracking you, so be aware and be careful…