This is a transcript of episode 96 of the Let’s Get Data-Driven podcast.

I’m Lanie Lamarre and I have some automations set up to remind me to send cards out about once a week. When someone in the Membership To Get Data-Driven finishes The Roadmap To Optimization, for instance, I get alerted to send that person a little handwritten note. Everyone likes a note, and everyone like personalization… until you take it to far so today, we’ll figure out where the line between privacy and personalization is for you and your audience.

I saw someone post about their dinner reservations from this nice restaurant on Instagram. This Story stood out to me because the restaurant – who printed their menus on fresh paper every day – took this as an opportunity to personalize the experience by printing the party’s name at the the top of the menu. Imagine getting together with your friends for dinner and having something like “Congrats, friends!” written at the top of the menu when you went out to celebrate a friend’s good news or something

I love that. I love those opportunities we all have as sellers to personalize the experience for the people we are selling to. Any time you’re able to make someone feel seen, even in some little way like “hey! we printed out these menus… FOR YOU!”, I love that.


In marketing terms, this is called “personalization”: the practice of tailoring marketing content and experiences to individual customers based on their interests, preferences, behaviors, and other relevant data. This can include using customer data to create targeted advertising, making recommendations based on past purchases or browsing behavior, or personalizing email and website content to reflect the customer’s interests or past behaviors.

When it comes to online marketing, personalization is especially important and let’s start with my favorite reason why:

  • Personalization addresses people like they’re human beings: While most listicles will put the next reasons front-and-center, everyone wants to feel seen and everyone wants to feel like they matter. Personalization grants you the ability to do that for someone, even from behind a screen.
  • Personalization improves the customer experience: To receive recommendations for offers you’ve already communicated or shown interest in will be more valuable – for both you and the buyer – when they’re personalized to the individual’s wants, needs and/or desires.
  • Personalization fosters higher engagement: It’s only logical that when someone feels like you’re speaking to them – like you’re addressing them personally – they will respond, and in turn, the use of personalized language and recommendations fosters higher levels of interaction and engagement.
  • Personalization leads to higher conversion rates: When you make your messages more relevant and tailored to the person who is receiving them, they will be more receptive to the content being generated and you can expect this to result in higher action-taking activities.
  • Personalization breeds loyalty: If your people feel like you know who they are, congratulations! You’re created a relationship with your audience, and this type of stronger connection tends to breed more loyalty towards you and your brand.

Some great examples – and opportunities! – you have as an online business owner to personalize your marketing campaigns and provide more relevant and engaging content to your audience include:

  • Personalized Email Campaigns: Email campaigns can be personalized based on the recipient’s past interactions, like previous purchases or website activity. You can also use segmentation within your email list to send different messages to different audience segments based on the interests or behaviors they have.
  • Chatbots: Chatbots can be used to provide personalized support and recommendations based on their needs and preferences. By analyzing past interactions and specific queries being made, chatbots are able to provide more relevant and helpful responses.
  • Retargeting Ads: Retargeting ads use customer data to show ads to people who have interacted with the brand before, such as visiting the website or adding items to their cart. These ads can be personalized based on a visitor’s browsing history and interests.
  • Dynamic Content: Dynamic content allows marketers to personalize website content based on the person’s location, device type, or other factors. For example, you may visits a site that will show you different products or promotions based on the weather or local events near you.


But because there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”, you CAN take the ooey-gooey-goodness of personalization too far. This is why you have to take people’s privacy into consideration when it comes to how you’re personalizing your marketing campaigns.

In the context of marketing campaigns, “privacy” refers to the protection of personal information and data that is collected, stored and used about people. Privacy is important to account for with the way you’re marketing because – weird concept but! – your audience expects you to respect them and, of course, you also have a legal obligation to handle the information you collect, store and/or use about your people in a responsible and secure way.

The goal isn’t to horde as much information and as many data points about your audience as you can; the goal for collecting information from your audience is to provide them with the best experience possible, to understand the trends and patterns that motivate them, and to use what you know about your audience to better connect with where they are. So how do you balance respect for your audience’s privacy while still collecting enough information to deliver a personalized experience?


There are all kinds of things you can do to let your audience know that “hey! I see you and not just in the creepy stalker way but also as a human being”. Which is all balancing personalization and privacy is: marketing in a way that prioritizes connection over exploitation. This isn’t always easy – sometimes being exploitative IS the easiest and simplest route to take because, for instance, it’s easier to embed a retargeting ad tracking code on your whole site than it is to be intentional about the single page you want to deliver retargeting ads for – but being intentional about how you build connections and relationships takes work and isn’t meant be to easy.

So let’s look at some ways you can build personalized marketing campaigns that respects your audience’s privacy:

  • Prioritize first-party data collection: There is no better information for you to have than the data someone shared with you directly. It’s nice to have access to what ad platforms know to get in front of new audiences, it’s nice to see the Google data about how people are navigating your site or how long they’re watching your videos, but it’s AMAZING and ACTIONABLE to collect information straight from the source: your audience. I’ve pointed to this example before and it’s worth re-sharing but Denise Duffield-Thomas’s launch debrief is a masterclass in using first-party data and personalization in the most respectful and targeted way imaginable; she gets her audience self-identify themselves into what she calls Archetypes – hello engagement! – and then tracks sales and Archetype breakdowns daily, monitoring which Archetypes converted in which ways. She’s using information she acquired from connections she made with her audience to personalize the content she was sending them as well as inform her marketing and sales decisions. Is it a lot more work to market in this way? Absolutely, it’s more work. But is this personalized, first-party data collection a more effective way of marketing? Always! Google doesn’t own that data, Facebook doesn’t own that data, YOU own that data. Plus, not only does your audience give you explicit consent to use that data about them, but they actually WANT you to use this type of data because it personalizes their connection with your brand. (Should we just end the podcast here? Because that’s the mic drop moment if ever there was one… but we’re not done yet!)
  • Make yourself available for engagement and connection: Somewhere along the line, it feels like we forgot the “social” part of “social media” and we started scheduling all our content in a way that made engagement and connection secondary. We’re at a point where we talk more about social media reach than we do about using it for outreach. Meanwhile, the reason why personalization is an effective marketing strategy is because it gives your audience the opportunity to feel and be seen by you; when you make yourself available for connection, this reinforces those things we started the episode talking about with engagement, connection, loyalty and higher follow-through. In a sense, these interactions that take place on social media can also be considered first-party data because when someone shares something with your in your DMs or messages you through a Story you posted, for example, you’re typically learning something about them directly from the source. Maybe they’re interested in the offer you’re talking about and this makes it a great opportunity for you to engage and that qualitative data about a potential client is THE most valuable source of information you can access… and it’s right there if you make yourself available for and to it.
  • Limit your actual data collection and storage to what YOU need: The more places you’re collecting and storing personal information and the more people who have access to that information, the more at risk you are of a data breach. I’ll record another episode on data breaches later on because it’s definitely its own topic worth covering – especially for small online businesses because we do associate it with big companies – but you have to know that you are responsible for the safe-keeping of the personal information you collect. The more data you collect, the more information you have and the more people on your team who have access to this, the more at-risk you are of compromising that information. It’s worth asking yourself what information you need to know about your audience to help make them feel seen – we’re not talking about “growth hacking” or trendy sales strategies here – I’m talking about what would better help you connect and see your audience for what they need and where they are. Chances are that you don’t need a fancy funnel or some overly complex tracking to do this, either; you can, you know, just TALK to people. Just a thought!

As I see it, you’re at a serious advantage when it comes to digital marketing in 2023.

I’d confidently put money on it that you already have personalization built into your business. In fact, you’re probably doing so much of it that it’s second nature for you to personalize your marketing campaigns and you don’t even think of it as a “strategy” as much as it is just speaking to your people.

You ask for feedback. You use your email marketing service to build segments out of your list or you have automations that say “if someone does this, then show them this” because it aligns with where their interests or motivations are. You respond to comments and DMs and emails, and you recognize and remember the people who engage most with you. You listen to what your clients say they need, you hear what they’re struggling with and you apply what they share with you when you’re creating new offers or new content.

Marketers who have relied on the pay-and-spray approach where they’re distributing mass marketing pieces in the hopes that their message and offers will reach anyone who will buy have a whole lot more to worry about but you? You’re well-positioned to adapt to privacy regulation and changes because you already see your audience as human beings – because they are! – and that makes it so much easier for you to build those connections and a business that can not only sustain but easily thrive amid all these changes.

Talk soon – baiiiieeee!!!