Don’t Spook your Customers This Halloween – Treat them to Engaging Experiences, without the Creep-Factor


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This piece is co-authored by Mike Shanker, president and CEO of QuickPivot, and Jeff Nicholson, VP of Marketing for Kitewheel.

This Halloween season “creepy” can mean more than just haunted houses and horror movies. Marketers need to be aware that consumers are increasingly sensitive to brand “stalking.” Brands that have implemented multi-channel marketing strategies, using customer data and location tracking to create real-time offers, must take steps to ensure their strategies are based on the desire to delight and serve their customers rather than push non-contextual, sales-driven ads.

To assist with the avoidance of omni-channel “creepery,” we’ve compiled examples of both Creepy and Considerate real-time marketing approaches, followed by actionable advice from three leading experts. Read on, if you dare … (cue creepy music).

Creepy – The Bad Apple

A recent example of spooky marketing is when Apple pushed U2’s album to all iOS devices this past September, reminding consumers that it had access to their personal libraries of documents. Chris Richards of The Washington Post described the phenomenon, “…U2’s new album was just there, waiting for you. Like an Ikea catalogue. Or a jury summons. Or streptococcus. The latest inescapable unpleasantry for anyone who’s chosen to participate in our great digital society — more specifically, the 500 million human beings on this planet who use iTunes.” Beyond the initial surprise of unwelcomed content being forced onto people’s phones came the backlash at Apple for its lack of originality and personalization by Wired’s Vijith Assar, who said, “It has, demonstrably, no competence in the sort of social and cultural thought that should have gone into a well-orchestrated version of this same gimmick, like, say, a free album as a birthday gift.”

Considerate – The Good Apple

In a win for Apple, iBeacon geo-marketing technology has been adopted and used successfully in the sports industry to deliver real-time, relevant experiences to Major League Baseball (MLB) fans. As showcased in a recent Mobile Marketer piece, “The platform displayed welcome messages, exclusive content, maps and coupons according to fans’ locations within a particular stadium.” Mark Tack, VP of Marketing for MLB’s mobile agency Vibes, added, “Every time the fans comes to the ballpark, you want to keep the experience fresh.” Fans at the stadium are now being targeted in a way that takes their needs into consideration based on when and where they are in the stadium, also ensuring fans are not seeing the exact same set of messages the next time they visit. This considerate approach shows fans that the lights are on and somebody is home. When omni-channel revolves around the anticipated needs of the customer, the creep-factor diminishes and stronger brand affinity is achieved.

Advice From The Experts

  • You don’t always have to talk about yourself:
    Make sure you’re using that technology for good. Mike Shanker, president and CEO of QuickPivot, encourages brands to avoid becoming marketing zombies. “You don’t have to push an ad to someone every time they interact with your brand. Great marketing today is about knowing when to interact with your customers and knowing when you should simply collect information for a more targeted future interaction. Customers don’t want to feel like you are standing over their shoulder, invading their privacy, they want to feel like when they need something, you are right there to help them achieve their goals and make their lives easier. Remember your human side when you’re at the wheel of the big-data machine.”
  • Let the past interactions and context help you craft a better future relationship:
    For mobile marketing success, “brands can tap into the depth of their customer knowledge and use it in real-time context. Instead of opting for pushy blast-style mobile messages like, ‘Sale today – 20 percent off jeans!’,” says Jeff Nicholson, VP of Marketing for Kitewheel. “If an in-store consumer has browsed a $200 water-resistant jacket online but didn’t buy, then notify them that the same jacket is 30% off, in stock and in their size … and watch it starting to rain – conditions are perfect to offer something valuable! In years past, this might have been farfetched, but now, new approaches in technology make this finally both possible and practical.”

Send your tired tactics and siloed solutions to the graveyard, or run the risk of having your customers band together with torches and pitchforks. While omni-channel is a developing marketing art (and science), brands still carry the weight of creating timely, responsible and relevant engagements – regardless of location, channel or time. The skeleton of any great omni-channel campaign starts with good, clean data. Next, marketers need the connective tissue that easily integrates campaign planning and execution to uniformly manage and optimize offers and messages in real time. Finally, the meat and muscle of the customer experience reside in marketers’ ability to visualize response data, uncover new insights based on specific customer actions, and refine offers and messages at the speed of each customer. Use the useful tricks above to treat your prospects and customers to a delightful Halloween!

Mike Shanker
Mike Shanker is the CEO and co-founder of QuickPivot (, the leader in real-time cross-channel marketing automation solutions and services for B2B and B2C enterprises. An expert in marketing data, customer relationship management, and operations, Mike has over 25 years of leadership experience in software and services companies. Mike has provided executive leadership and increased business value at Interleaf, Comtex Systems, Broadway and Seymour, and Oracle.


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