Do Consumers Love or Hate Personalized Messaging?

Do consumers love or hate personalized messaging

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You log into your laptop and type in the name of the car make and model you are interested in buying. When you log into Facebook five minutes later, an ad for that exact make and model pops up in the right rail. You look down at your phone at a stoplight on the way to work, and an ad for a nearby car dealership with a picture of that car appears on your lockscreen. It seems that the single search term you typed in is following you, adding more context and personalized information along the way.

Once the stuff of science fiction movies, this real-time ad targeting based on search history, location and other online behavior is now a reality. Is it creepy? Maybe a little. But growing research points to an interesting statistic: Consumers like personalized, hyper-targeted ad messaging from brands that they trust.

A recent study from IPG Media and Yahoo of 5,000 mobile users found that the majority of respondents appreciated location-based ad targeting, as well as ad suggestions based on search history and life events. The study also found that the smaller the mobile device, the higher the user expectation for customized information. For example, a user riding public transportation and searching for a restaurant expects his or her smartphone to identify location and deliver answers that make sense in that context. Basically, needing to Google a location term is now viewed as an annoyance.

Though consumers seem to be gradually embracing personalized content that benefits themselves, the study also found that mobile users were turned off by being given information on what their friends liked, visited or were doing at a given moment. Feasibly the negativity there stems from people not wanting the same information to be shared about themselves without permission.

These findings are important, even for businesses that do not use mobile or device tracking in their promotions. They point to a more intuitive approach to reaching consumers that is gaining popularity and will forever change the way we do business. Consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to doing less work to track down what they need, which puts the burden of visibility even more firmly on the shoulders of the sellers. This may sound overwhelming but can be accomplished through a few simple tasks, including:

Consumer buying habits will continue to evolve with technology, but there’s no reason to get left behind. By understanding these behavior changes, and sticking to tried-and-true customer service and promotional tactics, consumers will keep coming back.

Some Ins and Outs of Ecommerce


Ecommerce_Aug14Are you a business owner? It’s pretty likely that if you’ve found this blog, you have some kind of interest in ecommerce. Whether you have your own business, work for one, or have ambitions of starting one, knowing the ins and outs of ecommerce is crucial. Even if you’re just an avid online shopper, knowing the goals and ideals of ecommerce is good!

There are many, many different platforms for ecommerce. In the past, most online purchasing went directly through a company’s website. Now, there are so many different selling models and platforms, it’s kind of amazing. There are micro-ecommerce type sites like Etsy, where anyone can open a small shop. There are the ecommerce giants like Ebay and Amazon. Then there are niche sites, group deal sites…the possibilities are endless.

So what are some ways to stand out in the vast world of ecommerce? Here are a few tips:

  • Use your budget on marketing. Rather than spending a fortune to build a custom ecommerce store, consider using one of the many pre-fab ecommerce platforms that are available. They are generally a fraction of the cost and just as effective as building your own from scratch. This can also tie in with any digital marketing campaigns, making it a seamless transition from advertising to selling.
  • Use social media. I know, I know, we talk endlessly about social media and its power with consumers. But you know why? Because it works! Leverage social media for advertising. It’s free (or cheap, if you want to utilize paid advertising) and it’s so easy to use. No one can deny that social media is easily the most far reaching method of marketing that we have.
  • Focus on customer service. Sometimes, customer service can be lost in the fray when it comes to ecommerce. As with in-person stores and sales, the customer always has to come first. Great customer service keeps consumers coming back, as well as drives positive reviews and word of mouth marketing.
  • Evolve. We can take a lesson from media and sales giant Amazon on this one. Amazon has proven immensely successful at both sales and marketing. Recently, they raised the price of their Prime membership from $79/year to $99/year. Instead of backlash, their loyal customers and just about everyone else praised their services and said they are more than willing to pay the new, higher price. And you know what? Amazon continues to thrive, and has even added a new music streaming service.

With these tips you’ll be on your way to standing out in the ecommerce world.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Dummies Guide To Dealing With Irate Customers


Online companies, regardless of how great their products or services are, will inevitably encounter angry Dealing with Irate Customerscustomers at some point in time. Customers can get upset for several possible reasons; some warranted, some not. However, the key is to help resolve the issue at hand in the most effective way possible. This pertinent task lies in the hands of a company’s customer service team because these individuals are the problem solvers. So, if you’re in the business of customer service, check out the list below for the top three ways to deal with someone who is angry or upset.

1. Address The Problem

When dealing with an angry customer, whether it be via email or over the phone, the first thing you need to do is identify why they’re upset. Pinpointing the problem right away will make it easier to figure out a solution (more on that later). So, are they dissatisfied with the service? Have they been overcharged? Do they want to cancel a membership? Canceling a membership is one of the most common reasons that customers get upset, and most of the time it’s because they can’t figure out how to cancel on their own.

These customers get frustrated that they have to contact someone for help with something that really should be much simpler. If that’s the case for your company, it may be smart to create a cancellation page that makes the process simple for customers. For example, Instant Checkmate has an entire web page dedicated to canceling a membership, which allows customers to cancel online, over the phone, or by email. By simplifying the cancellation process, the frequency of angry customer calls and emails may decrease significantly.

2. Show A Genuine Interest In Helping

Every customer, whether they are angry or not, expects to interact with a professional who is friendly and genuinely interested in resolving the issue at hand. Showing that you are invested in helping will calm the customer down right away because they will be confident that their problems will be solved by whatever means possible.

The last thing a customer wants is to deal with someone who is moody and unhelpful because that immediately shows that the company doesn’t care about customer service. If that is the case, then you can bet that they’ll end up getting even more upset because they feel that they’re not getting the attention and help that every customer deserves. Some companies, like Zappos for example, will talk to customers for hours on end to solve a problem, which shows how much they value customer service.

3. Work Together To Come Up With A Solution

When it comes to resolving an issue, particularly when a customer is angry, you must work together to come up with a viable solution. This means that you have to be flexible, answer their questions, and listen to their concerns. In order to be effective, there must be an actual back-and-forth conversation between the two of you, as opposed to you simply telling them what you can do and what is going to happen.

This conversation will make the customer feel more involved in the process, which will lead them to feel more confident in your company’s customer service efforts, as well as your overall brand. Even the angriest customers can experience a change of heart based solely on a successful interaction with a diligent and helpful customer service representative.

Have YOU ever had to interact with an angry customer? How did you handle the problem? Let us know in the comments!

Andrea Herrington is a blogger from Palo Alto, CA. She specializes in writing about customer service and business development.

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