When you're immersed in the world of digital media and marketing, it's hard to look at the internet like a civilian. You are constantly aware that every move you make is being tracked, but mostly you're aware of just how bad a lot of the efforts at personalization still are.
Earlier this summer I was in the market for a new tent after realizing the poles for my old one went missing. Eventually I bought one from REI, but that doesn't stop REI and its competitors from continuing to inundate me with retargeted ads across the web. And every time one of my friends has a baby shower, and I do the requisite shopping, the internet treats me like a Mom for weeks afterward.
So when I see a company get it right, I get excited...and want to spread the word.
My latest success story comes from Instagram and a company called Wolfpack Supply. If you opened up the Instagram app on my phone right now you would see lots of nature photography, dogs, and rock climbing photos. A picture of someone camping with a dog is sure to get you a like from me. If you're dangling precariously from the side of a beautiful cliff, you will get my attention.
So when Instagram started promoting Wolfpack Supply's leashes and collars--made in the USA from rock climbing rope--in my feed, I was delightfully surprised. Boy had they hit their target!
And, the timing was great, because my dog's collar--originally bought from Etsy--was starting to look a little worse for wear. I wasn't in any rush to replace it, because it was still getting the job done, but the pattern was faded after a few trips through the washing machine. Nonetheless, I clicked on the Wolfpack posts. A week or two after I first saw the ad, I made a purchase.
This is what happens when you actually understand your audience. It's not about bombarding your customers with ads, no matter where they go, based on old behavior. It's about understanding their interests, and offering them new products or services that you think will be useful to them. Now we just need companies to recognize when you've actually made your purchase, and stop serving you ads for something you've already bought.