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Why you should never tell your customer how much you know about them?

When you’re in the marketing industry, you probably understand why you see ads of products you may be potentially interested in.

When you’re in the marketing industry, you probably understand why you see ads of products you may be potentially interested in, why your Google search results page look different for you than for your neighbour, even you if both typed the same query. You understand that you got that 10% off regular price popup, because the system noticed that you were about to leave the page. 

What really puzzles me is why some companies tell innocent people how much they know about them. It won’t increase your conversion rate. It will freak them out and make them probably never visit your website again.

About a year ago I signed up for a SalesForce account to test some features. Free trial ended, months have passed and I forgot about ever having an account there. Then, one day I visited the website to check pricing. That was it. Shortly after I received a phone call from SalesForce sale representative saying “I noticed that you visited our website. Would you be interested in using our solutions?”. Before that I got an email about the same thing. A regular Joe wouldn’t think that they connected data when I created a trial account and store it to find out whether I’ll be interested in the product in the future. 

Regular Joe will think: “I’m not logged anywhere, I had a free trial, but this account doesn’t exist anymore and yet, they somehow know my phone number, email address, name and company I work for. That’s creepy!”. And it in fact may be creepy. 

It may be impressive, true. But creepy nonetheless.

Why some people think it’s okay to tell your leads how much they know about them? After years of discussion with various salesmen, I know that there are at least couple of reasons behind this "strategy":

  • They don’t see anything wrong with it. Imagine: your job is to get in touch with leads and sell them your products or services. You open CRM, click on a lead and you see that this person browsed 3 pages, downloaded an e-book on payroll solutions for enterprises and based on provided email this person works at a company that fits the profile of clients you’d like to work with. You call them and say: “Good morning, John I can see that since yesterday you’ve been thinking about our accounting and HR solutions. Have you had a chance to read the e-book on payroll software you downloaded today? Do you think it’s something we can help you with at XYZ LLC?”.

From the salesman perspective, everything is fine. He used information he got in the CRM. At the same time John is freaking out how much this company knows about him and he didn’t even ask them to contact him. This lead probably won’t sign a contract.

  • They think it will be impressive how efficient their marketing is. You get all the data on ads clicked, sessions duration, attribution, specific URLs visited on each session and marketing automation system also shows us scoring of how likely this lead will become a paying customer. So we use this data to meet potential customer’s needs by mentioning things important to them. “I can see you’re looking for X” or “on our blog you read about Y”. It’s fine when you sell marketing automation and people are looking to get this data for themselves, but in other situations, it's almost never a good idea to share how much you know.

There’s nothing wrong with collecting data - if you won’t do it, others will. But why bother if how you use it ruins the advantage you have? 

Recently I had a chance to analyze the sales process of an international B2B company that collects all sorts of data on their website visitors and seeing how efficiently they use the knowledge they have on leads was more than satisfying. 

Based on that, I decided to create a short checklist for subtle navigating the sales call towards closing the deal.

  1. Never mention how people interacted with the website. Just mention products, services or solutions that may be interesting to them after looking at their website behaviour. 
  2. Don’t use any information they didn’t provide on their own. If you already know what company they work for and what they do there, because your software scrapped data from LinkedIn, but they didn’t give you that information directly - don’t use it.
  3. Don’t really send follow-ups after they visited your website or opened an email from you. It’s just scary and makes them not want to open your emails and visit the website. Measure their engagement and remind about yourself, but don’t act like a stalker.

That’s it. If you’re asking why collect data if you can’t use it as you’d like and open a conversation with it, you’re doing it wrong. Just like your ads don’t say “buy from us now. Do it now!”, treat your data with the same kind of subtlety.

Slawek

Slawek

Founder of Digiffic.com. I've been working with PPC campaigns since before it was cool. Not that it wasn't cool back in the day. It's just way more cooler these days.

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