How Much Is Too Much?

How Much Is Too Much?

My bank knows a lot about me. They how much money I have with them, how much of that I spend (too much), what I spend it on, who issues my paychecks, how much my home cost, and what my take-home income is. For a long time, they didn’t do much with this knowledge, other than to make sure I paid my debts to them on time, and didn’t spend more than I had. In other words, they used their knowledge to run the operational aspects of their business.

Soon, times changed. Marketers developed analytics techniques, built predictive models using their customer data and began to learn things about me that they could use to better meet my needs. My monthly statements included offers, special deals, and information about services I didn’t know existed. Some were compelling, some not. One day, during a routine visit, I ended up sitting with a banker who showed me how I could streamline my finances and save a few dollars by taking advantage of some services that they offered only in-house to certain existing customers. I had no idea what their criteria were, but it was flattering and I signed up. It worked, I saved money and time. All was well.

Then social media entered the equation. My bank wanted me to join their SM community; to “like” their Facebook page, to follow them on Twitter. It seemed to make sense at first; after all, isn’t that how we do things nowadays?

But then I thought about it a little more. If I signed up, my bank would know who all my FB friends were, who followed my Twitter account, and what our conversations were. That was too much. I had no problem with my bank knowing things about me that they used to further our business relationship. But I had to draw the line about them knowing things about others through their relationship with me.

Therein lies the fundamental conflict about data-driven marketing. How much knowledge is too much? It is not an easy question to answer. Every customer has a point at which the benefits they see from marketing directed at them are outweighed by their need for some level of personal privacy. The challenge for all of us to make sure that we never get to that point.

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