We all know that personalization done wrong comes off as creepy rather than helpful. But where exactly is the line between cool and creepy? This week, Accenture asks that exact question in a large survey; loyalty programs go card-free; and superior personalization actually saves a life. That’s cool, no matter how you look at it.

Consumers Weigh In on Cool vs. Creepy Personalization

Some aspects of personalization are widely loved: Everyone likes a personalized, relevant reward. But not everyone likes the idea that they’re being digitally followed so that they can get that reward. A 2016 Accenture survey of 10,000 smartphone users helps show where customers draw the line between cool and creepy:

  • Discounts and promotions: 86% say they are cool. At the top of the cool list are automatic discounts applied during checkout and promotional offers sent based off of online browsing.
  • Personal shoppers: 31% say they’re cool / 42% say they’re creepy. Whether they pop up online with an offer to chat or pull items in-store based on your personalized data, consumers are divided on their views of unsolicited help from personal shoppers.
  • Sales people that talk to friends and peeking at wish lists are definitely creepy say 53%. In-store sales people talking to shoppers about shoppers’ wish lists or their friends’ feedback on products they’re considering buying is definitely creepy.

While marketers may be ready to bring personalization into every aspect of consumers’ interactions, the consumers clearly get uncomfortable when personal data is revealed to real people, i.e. sales associates. Retailers can stay out of the creepy zone by embedding personalization throughout the customer experience in ways that aren’t immediately obvious to customers. Good personalization creates efficiency not friction.

The Future Of Loyalty Programs: Data, Not Cards

Pretty much every loyalty program, even those with an app, comes with a card. Consumers’ wallets are filled with them, and only about 40% of those cards ever see the light of day. Marketers looking for more engagement are turning to data and digital delivery to smarten up their loyalty programs.

A data-driven, digital strategy, according to Marketing Week, could lead to the disappearance of cards while also offering a number of benefits to consumers.

  • Ease of use: Digital delivery of loyalty programs via mobile apps makes rewards easier to access and redeem. Before launching its card-less loyalty program via an app, the UK’s Harvey Nichols discovered that 80 percent of customers preferred an app rather another piece of plastic in their wallets.
  • Relevancy: Rewards based on personalized data are much more relevant, transforming loyalty programs from a blunt strategy in which everyone gets the same reward to a sharper tool that offers a reward relevant to individuals. The UK-based telecommunications company O2, for example, uses predictive analytics to offer tailored rewards based (i.e., music offers for music lovers) resulting in a tenfold in increase in conversion.

The plastic cards may stick around for a while, but mostly as branding vehicles rather than tools.

If Your Personalization Strategy Is This Good, You Win

A news report from Salem, Oregon shows just how powerful knowledge about your customers can be, especially when coupled with staff who are empowered to do the right thing. At about 1 a.m. on May 8th, the team at a Domino’s pizza in Salem, Oregon, realized that Kirk Alexander, who had ordered almost daily for years, hadn’t placed an order in a few days. The store’s general manager, Sarah Fuller, looked through the store’s recent sales records and discovered that it had in fact been 11 days since Alexander’s last order. Fuller sent a driver, who knew that Alexander had health issues, to check on him.

When he returned, the driver reported that the lights and the TV were on, but no one answered the door and a phone call went straight to voicemail. Fuller called 911 right away. Sherriff’s deputies arrived to find Alexander, 48, had suffered a stroke, was calling for help, and needed immediate medical attention. Alexander was brought to a hospital, and was reported in stable condition the next day.

Learn more about how to boost your own personalization strategy from Sailthru customers in these success stories

Jason Grunberg, Director of Content Marketing and PR