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Name: Scott

Occupation: Tech Writer

Location: Detroit-ish

Twenty years ago, when I first got into the business, a decent telemarketer could glance at that information on a glowing green screen, smile, dial, get me on the line, and convert me into cash for the brand of your choice, all in about 10 minutes.

Telemarketers then were awesome at digging out personal information and using it to do their jobs — a lack of technical tools meant they had to be. Today’s digital marketers seem to be lousy at using personal information, perhaps because a treasure chest of tools means they can be.

At least that was the immediate thought I had after reading Stewart Rogers’ new report, Hyper-personalization: What customers want, and what they hate.

Think for a moment about what it takes in an actual human-to-human interaction to earn the right for someone to answer questions like: Are you married? Where do your kids go to school? Where do you shop, what brands do you buy, and how do your peers influence that? Where do you worship? Who do you vote for? Are those two things tied together? What causes do you care about? How much time do you spend doing anything about them?

Back in the day, access to that level of personal, timely information was what we called a “hot lead,” and if you were a telemarketer and I passed you that lead and you couldn’t convert it, you were off to sling burgers or something else, because you sure were no kind of marketer in my book.

So how is it that in the golden age of marketing tech and the peak of our evangelism for meaningful user engagement and real H2H communication (is that the acronym we’re using this week?), marketers seem to have gotten worse at understanding how to rally us (read: 3-dimensional human beings) to their cause?

Consider: Despite having access to an ever-expanding universe of personal data (about a third of consumers will give us their email in exchange for nothing, according to Rogers’ report) and the ease with which modern marketing techs can almost instantly creep an email address for even more personal data (IP address, device ID, social profiles, psychographics, location-based data, etc.), only about 15 percent of marketers will ever contemplate things like personal psychographics, instead relying on little more than a prospects name, email, and location before trying to convert us to their brand/cause/whatever.

VB’s new State of Marketing Technology Hyper-Personalization: What customers want, and what they hate

report is available for $499 on VB Insight, or free with your martech subscription

Don’t get me wrong, we’re brilliant at reaching large numbers of people in an instant, and there are a plethora of tools flooding the market to help us do it… it’s just that our fascination with new marketing technologies, married with a dearth of user ability (don’t ask which came first; it’s a chicken and egg deal), has put average marketers (and social media managers) in a state where we have huge tool chests and lots of ideas, but very little of the technical aptitude required to work those tools in order to understand and connect with the people whom we’re trying to engage.

To this day, I know some very smart call center people who would bet you straight-up that they could pick 10 telemarketers and, lead for lead, whip any marketing tech out there.

Based on what I learned from Stewart Rogers’ report on personalization, and my own belief that many of today’s marketers lack the technical prowess required to do their job, I’d back the telemarketers on that bet, and I’d win.

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