Archive for ‘Online security’:

How to Personalize a Brand Experience Without Being Creepy

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

How to Personalize a Brand Experience Without Being Creepy Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasBrand personalization has never been more vital to providing a unique brand experience and capturing and maintaining customer loyalty. But with so much data available, it’s also easier to annoy or unnerve customers with over-personalized suggestions or communications. Here’s how to use your available data to provide a personalized user experience without seeming like Big Brother.

Be transparent

Inform your users as to what info you’re capturing, how you will use it, and who can see it.  Unnerving customers with specific, personal information on recommendations or personalized experiences will likely cause them to shy away from a brand instead of embrace it. So be transparent: ask for permission to use their data, and provide an opt-out.

Use data provided directly to your brand

It’s one thing to personalize experience based on data a customer has already provided to your brand, whether it’s a previously stated preference for a room on the lowest floor of your hotel or a purchase history that shows they buy the same product at regular intervals. But it’s another thing to use information they didn’t provide to your organization.

Social media posts that mention your brand directly also generally fall into the realm of usable for personalization, but tread carefully. At Qantas Airlines airport lounges, iPads alert staff members when a lounge guest posts content tagged from that location, even if the user doesn’t mention Qantas by name. Staff can then share certain posts with their own followers.

While those posts are public information, some users found that social listening off-putting, especially since, in the case of Qantas, they weren’t directly interacting with the brand on social media and Qantas does not alert their lounge members that such monitoring is in progress. (See: Be transparent)

Tread carefully with third-party data

Using third-party data from social media sites can quickly veer into “creepy” territory. If your brand wants to access, say, Facebook like information, it’s wise to consider clearly asking for permission. General rule: Unless a client clicks the “like” or “follow” button on your brand’s page, be very clear about your third-party data processes and consider using other personalization means.

Personalize better

In a national loyalty study, Maritz Loyalty Marketing found that while 94 percent of loyalty program members want to receive communications from the programs in which they participate, only 53 percent of those members found those communications personalized and relevant. Allow customers to help with that by providing the opportunity for them to customize their interactions with you, either by creating personalized interaction defaults or how they set up and manage a loyalty account. On The New York Times online, users can view recommendations for articles based on recently-viewed articles, and the site provides data on the sections and they view most, an excellent way for members to not only track their own usage, but also feel that The New York Times is pointing the way toward tailored content.

Be selective with the data you use

Big data has huge personalization potential, but brands must use it responsibly; just because you have access to certain data points about a user doesn’t mean that data should be used. Take for example the OfficeMax mailer addressed to “Mike Seay/Daughter Killed in Car Crash/Or Current Business.” Just as it’s important to know what big data metrics are most applicable to your company, it’s also vital to know which of those data points should be used in personalization.

How do you personalize your brand experience? Where do you think the line is between highly personalized and creepy?

Gmail Changes = Time to Revisit Your Online Settings

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Gmail changes Google plus security privacy settings Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasThink you’re anonymous online and your Gmail account is confidential? Think again. Last Thursday Google announced changes to Gmail that will allow someone to email you at your Gmail address even if they don’t know that address, as long as both of you are Google Plus and Gmail users. Even better: this capability will be enabled automatically, and requires manual opt-out (and here’s how to do that).

On its official blog, Gmail frames the change as allowing you to “reach the people you know more easily.” Of course, if you don’t actually know the person, this does away with one more layer of protection from your email and effectively integrates Google Plus and Gmail into one messaging service. The flip side is that this could make it even easier to network with other industry figures or potential clients whose email address you’ve forgotten to note, but it seems like a lot of changes and automations actually leave more room for breach of privacy than ever before.

Aside from getting emails from people you don’t know – and maybe don’t want emailing you – there may be more worries with Google Plus’s automation, as in the December case of a man arrested for violating a restraining order taken out by his ex-girlfriend because he sent her an email to join Google Plus. The catch? He says he didn’t send it – Google did, and he didn’t know about it. It’s not clear whether that’s what actually happened, but Google’s automatic invitations have caused ire for some years.

Though the aforementioned incident occurred before Gmail’s announcement last week, the takeaway for PR pros is to never assume that automation by default works in favor of your privacy. And PR pros, who tend to have prolific breadth in their social media and online accounts, must be extra cautious with their social presence.

So take this as a New Year’s reminder to take a few minutes and review the settings and privacy on all your social media accounts. And always make sure you or someone on your team closely monitors changes made to social media, search, and email platforms – you don’t want to have to jump into crisis mode over a preventable online slip-up.