Look, I love the internet as much as the next massive nerd, but even I have to admit it’s weird. (In some cases, both awesome and brain-meltingly weird.)
Information is constantly being gathered about our online habits. Something that’s been in the news of late given Facebook making its users into guinea pigs without disclosure.
And it’s so easy to start gathering intel — here’s an Analytics 101 intro if you need it. Go to bit.ly, sign up, create links to content you’ve written or want to feature, and boom, oodles of free data. Google Analytics can go far more granular, even at the basic, unpaid level. Want to track your visitors’ referrals? Nation of origin? Gender? Age? Color of undies? Ok, not that last one. But very nearly.
Gather ‘round the fire, campers, and let Auntie Steph tell you a tale.
Several weekends ago, I was in the market for a camera. I was tabbing back and forth between browsing a Site That Shall Not Be Named and various camera reviews. I finally made a choice, popped it in my shopping cart, then went to move my laundry from the washer to the dryer. When I got back, I spent a bit more time looking for any possible coupons or discount codes and checked on the crock pot. Less than twelve minutes later, my phone buzzed to tell me I had an email.
From the camera site.
Asking me about my abandoned cart.
Overly-persistent-traveling-salesman-in-a-hotel-bar levels of creepy.
I didn’t buy the camera from them. To this day, I haven’t bought anything from them. Because there’s a non-zero chance they’ll show up at my house at 3:17 a.m. and I’m just not ready for that level of neediness.
That, y’all, is what I mean by Don’t Be Creepy.
Online marketing tools provide a tremendous amount of data to work with. It makes sense to use that data to determine the core audience for a service or product, or to track the success of an advertising buy, or even to see what customers are saying.
But don’t get all Victor Frankenstein, ok? Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.