It’s long been shown that conveying a personalized message – whether by the consumer’s name, serving up an interest-specific offer, or personalizing based on some life-event – increases response. Recent surveys show that today’s top marketers believe that personalization and targeting are THE most important factors in any campaign’s success.

But, personalization can be a double-edged sword in today’s privacy conscious climate. Highly publicized data breaches and recent legislation have put consumers on edge about how their data is used for marketing purposes. Even publicly accessible factual data may, in some contexts, be viewed as personal and private by a consumer.

Our advice to our clients has always been the same, “Avoid the creep factor.” It’s one thing for new parents to receive a generalized offer for products or services relevant to child care. It’s entirely another thing for them to receive a mailer that says, “We understand you have a new baby in the house . . .”  One offer is timely, appropriate, and well-targeted. The other offer is just creepy.

When you’re targeting based on potentially sensitive life-event triggers such as a new birth, recent divorce, a death in the family, etc., make sure to keep your message general and always aboveboard. Let the targeting do the work.