Companies who are only fairly sophisticated with their marketing collect nearly every possible data point possible on each one of their customers – and often even on their browsers (people who stop by the website, but don’t purchase).
They tell themselves that they’re doing they’re customers a favor because people expect personalization. They believe that customers expect every communication to be tailored specifically toward them – from a personalized greeting to recommended products based on past purchases to scientifically formulated propensity models that try to guess what an individual will do based on what they’ve done already.
And, of course, they’re partially right. There are many surveys confirming that a portion of customers like and expect personalization.
But what about those who don’t?
Would it be great for those customers if there was an option when you entered a website (or at least at the time of purchase) that said, “Click here if you don’t want your information to be tracked.” I would take that option on every site.
In fact, asking for that information is a form of tracking. It should be the default. Businesses should ask people to opt in to data tracking. They could make whatever case they want encouraging people to opt in. And then they could go from there.
Personally, I would prefer if every time I interacted digitally with a business, it was treated as if it were my first time.
When I shop on a site like Amazon, I only go there when I know exactly what I want. I purchase it, and then I leave.
Not only do I not look at or notice recommendations, but I actively don’t want them. All of the digital emails and past behaviorally-based website recommendations I get assume that I wake up every morning trying to figure out how to spend my money.
It’s the opposite. It’s rare I make a whimsical purchase, and I can’t think of a single email or website recommendation that has led me to even consider the purchase.
Obviously, we’re living in a world of individuals, and not everyone is like me. They don’t need to be, and I wouldn’t want them to be.
Personalization is fine for those who want their every move tracked and stored on servers around the country. And they should be able to opt in to that so they know exactly in what it is they’re participating.
But for people like me, there should be an alternative. Just like duckduckgo.com is a search engine for people like me that doesn’t track or store your search data, I wonder how an online store who’s brand was built on not tracking purchases and privacy would do against an Amazon.com.
Obviously, that site could never win against Amazon, but I do think privacy-minded individuals would gravitate toward that or any other online business who had a don’t track approach to the business.
Perhaps there’s a business idea there…