Marketing Automation – Is it spying?

Those of us who are able to utilize the more advanced features of monitoring web activity with a marketing automation platform are probably familiar with this reaction.  Many times when I talk about watching someone’s digital behavior or monitoring their digital body language, I see shock and surprise in their expression.  When we use marketing automation (MA) to place the cookie on a computer and subsequently monitor their click-stream on our website, isn’t that the same thing as placing a secret recording device at their office or home?  I suppose one could make that argument.

Or is it a case where we, as Modern Marketers, have to justify it in our own minds as being OK because we only want to help them make a decision (to buy our product)? The definitive guide, in my opinion, was written by Steve Woods, co-founder of Eloqua in his book, “Digital Body Language”.  This is a must read book for all modern marketers.

We’re all subject to this type of monitoring in this day and age of digital everything.  The European Union has passed laws about disclosing the cookie policy and allowing an opt-out option.  Microsoft fueled the discussion when it announced a ‘Do Not Track’ option which it would default to ‘on’ with the Internet Explorer 10 release.

As advanced users of MA know, the tracking feature is one of the most powerful features a savvy modern marketer can exploit.  I’ve set up triggered email campaigns using the tracking feature to deliver timely and relevant content with great results.  The tracking option allows a salesperson to monitor activity of key accounts or competitive proposals.  What better way to improve your timing if you know when a certain solution or purchase is on top of your ideal prospect’s mind.  These are powerful sales and marketing tactics guaranteed to give you a leg up on the competition not aware of the possibility to track web behavior.

Is monitoring web behavior any different than networking where information is passed from person to person?  Or is it more like sneaking up to someone’s house and peeking in the window?

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