In the digital era, promoting your business through the means of online marketing has become a very common and useful custom. However, as is often the case, new business strategies always have their pitfalls and potentially unethical practices tied to them. This is where intrusive marketing campaigns come in.
Ranging from overly promotional junk emails to aggressive telemarketers, not every advertising campaign is created with the user’s best intentions in mind. Let’s take a look at a few underhanded practices in online marketing that customers should be aware of, so as to best avoid them or take proper action against them:
Have you recently signed up for an online streaming service or given your credentials in order to purchase a product from an online retailer? Chances are your inbox will now become flooded with emails upon emails of their self-promotional content. The content you never even asked for.
While the ethical way for online businesses to approach marketing emails would be to ask their customer to manually opt-in and give their consent, that isn’t always the case. The tick-box or user setting that instructs you of said promotional content is hidden in plain sight or completely absent altogether.
Because of this, a large number of companies conveniently shoehorn this time-old strategy into their users’ accounts the moment their system has received a valid email address it can automatically send to.
Consequently, the system adds you to an immense forwarding list for any marketing promotions that the business sends out, and your inbox will now receive an overwhelming amount of spam-natured emails, such as coupons or digital flyers, that might not interest you in the slightest.
What can you, the customer, do about this? Always make sure that your marketing preferences are in check with the sign-up form you filled out when your account was created. If you might suspect a business of questionable promotion tactics, do not hesitate to file a complaint with them in order to raise awareness about invasive advertising behavior in the future. Your feedback, as their customer, is invaluable.
Another issue that can arise from sign-up forms are the pesky push notifications that you might receive on your device should you have given your phone contact details in the form. This can also occur just by installing an app related to said business on your phone.
A more direct approach to mass promotional e-mails, businesses employ push notifications because of their immediate user-engagement. After all, everyone is actively connected to their device nowadays, and a direct messaging notification is much more difficult to ignore than one of many other e-mails you might receive on a regular day.
The problem lies in the fact that said notifications can become intrusive almost immediately. The notification system does not take into account the annoyance factor of a customer constantly receiving generic 2 for 1 deal or branded sponsorships directly on their screen.
While consumer data has shown that push notifications can be a good thing when they are personalized to the user’s own purchasing needs, most companies do not go the extra mile for their users, and instead, choose to annoy and disrespect them through generic mass content.
This is when customer disengagement occurs. When a user decides to completely turn off their push notifications, that is when a company’s marketing strategy has completely failed. In this scenario, action needs to come from within the business itself, and the user experience needs to become a top priority.
Targeted Social Media Ads
Now that we have touched upon intrusive generic marketing content, let’s turn our attention to the highly-personalized content side of things.
With the advent of social media and all of our online personas being easily connected among one another, businesses now have access to valuable consumer data regarding our specific content preferences and purchasing interests. In line with GDPR practices, and through direct user consent, social platforms can show you ads that are tailored specifically to your recent interests.
So if you’ve recently looked up “Halloween party themes”, services such as Instagram or Facebook will know that they should show you content and products centered around Halloween. Be even more specific in your searches, say “cheap Halloween costumes”, and the next time you scroll through your Instagram stories, you will get a number of “Swipe Up” ads with costumes at reduced prices.
All of this sounds great, doesn’t it? The product you already wanted to buy comes right to you, and the research you would have had to undergo in order to find it is time well saved. While this might be true, personalized data tracking can quickly get out of hand.
Since social media platforms use an artificial algorithm to fuel their database, the system once again lacks the humane foresight to spot any consequences that might arise.
If a customer is made to feel as though every online interaction they have is being tracked and analyzed for marketing purposes, they will become paranoid and will eventually want to disengage from any advertising that might be offered to them altogether. Convenience is one thing, but an apparent invasion of privacy is something else entirely.
Therefore, both the user and the business need to be very careful with how they handle the usage of personal data in this exchange of information.
One of the most controversial types of client engagement on the market, telemarketers are usually a sensitive and disliked topic for anyone who has gone through the experience.
The main problem with telemarketing campaigns is usually the nature of the call itself. Not only is someone taking time out of your busy day to ask you a number of generic survey-like questions, but they might also do that in an aggressive manner, or even call you repeatedly if you have previously refused to answer their queries.
Moreover, if the bothersome call is automated in nature, and the situation becomes recurrent, insult is added to injury. What most people are unaware of, however, is that you can potentially earn compensation for this type of harassment, thanks to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
According to the TCPA, automated telemarketing campaigns are strictly prohibited from reaching customers who have not specifically opted into this type of marketing campaign. A specialized law firm, such as pintas.com, can tell you more about your infringed rights in a situation of this nature, and what necessary steps you need to take in order to earn the compensation you deserve for this type of consumer harassment.
In the grand scheme of things, marketing campaigns should be a service that thinks of the customer’s needs first and foremost. When they fail to do that, rather causing annoyances and potential grievances, something must change.
With the information that you have obtained here, you can now look at the discussed intrusive marketing campaigns in a different light, knowing exactly when, how, and why you must take action against the violation of your rights as a respected customer of any online business.