Remember when “cookies” were controversial? People complained about having their online activities tracked by these pesky little programs. Cookies, however, are nothing compared to the tracking technologies available to today’s marketers. Sophisticated tools enable marketers to follow your every move online and even in a brick-and-mortar store.
Having in-depth customer knowledge and the ability to pinpoint prospects so precisely is a marketer’s dream. But some of the latest technology makes me wonder if we marketers have gone too far.
Here are some thoughts on the pros and cons of tracking technology in marketing:
The power of targeted marketing. Targeted marketing is a powerful formula for success: Interested buyer + extremely relevant message = higher likelihood of a sale. This is why direct marketing has always been such an effective tactic.
The web has brought us marketing tools we never could have imagined. Thanks to cookies on the Zappos.com website, for example, a micro-targeted ad for a specific brand of sandals greeted me on the Washington Post’s website minutes after I viewed those sandals on Zappos.
How targeting benefits consumers. There’s a big upside to targeted marketing for consumers. When advertising is directly related to your interests, it’s more meaningful and makes buying easier. If you have a relationship with a brand — as I do with Zappos — you welcome ads, whether they’re on a screen or in your mailbox.
And the fact is, as consumers, we want to be engaged with marketers, and we’re happy to use technology to do it. We join loyalty programs and share email addresses to get coupons. We check in on Facebook and FourSquare. We download marketers’ apps and willingly accept user agreements, even though we know marketers are collecting data about us every step of the way.