Penrod Blog

Marketing Personalization: Finding the Right Amount of Creepy

Unless you’re Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or some other unstoppable supernaturally-gifted being from a campy 80’s slasher, you probably don’t make it your life’s mission to be creepy.

This is especially true of marketers, sales organizations, or anyone trying to provide personalized, yet respectful interactions with their prospects.

In this post, we'll discuss:

Why good personalization starts with good data
The two main categories of attributes to segment upon
The best segmentation tactics for personalization

With so much data at our fingertips these days, it’s tempting to use it often and irresponsibly. Finding the right balance between personalization and invasive creepiness is an art.

There is a razor-thin line between the two, and if you cross it – it’s hard to wash the stink of that creepiness away.

Good Data Makes for Good Personalization

If you make interactions subtle, valuable, and genuine, customers will accept personalized marketing efforts. After all, the best marketing automation is undetectable. As with most things in marketing automation, successful campaigns start with good data. From interests to attributes, all of this data can help you segment your customers and provide valuable interactions with your brand.

If you aren’t currently doing this, think about the data points that will complement marketing efforts and make sure you are capturing and storing this information accurately. In the case of B2B selling, it’s vital to consider both demographics and firmographics.



The attributes of your prospects that best define ideal targets.



The attributes of companies that best define ideal targets.

Key Attributes
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Title
  • Marital Status
  • Income
  • Title
  • Education Level
  • Industry
  • Revenue
  • Company Size
  • Location
  • Number of Clients
  • Tech Stack

Most of the time, this data will be stored in a cloud-based database like Salesforce. By analyzing demographic and firmographic attributes, you can paint a picture of your ideal prospect. For instance, location, title, industry, and revenue will help you target them with the right product and assign them to their appropriate regional sales manager.

Personalization in Practice

With a tool like Pardot or other marketing automation platforms, you can create dynamic content that personalizes emails and webpages based on segmentation.

Let’s say you’re a medical device manufacturer and have 5 different products with different messaging. For the sake of efficiency, you’d like to only send out one email template, and create just one webpage. No problem! Simply create the 5 different product type content blocks (this will probably include a photo, some copy and a link) and designate which prospect field corresponds with the content block. Not only are you segmenting your prospects, but you are providing them with an experience that is personalized to their demographics and firmographics – no creepiness required.

Real-time Information

If you have a marketing automation tool like Pardot or Marketing Cloud, you get real-time information about when a prospect is browsing your website, what page they’re on, and what links they’ve clicked on. Let’s face it – the fact that you know all of this is already a bit creepy, so just own it. However, there are some rules of thumb to help you rein that creepiness in.

Jeff Goldblum

Even though you can, take Jeff Goldblum’s advice and think about if you should. Don’t send an email to a prospect letting them know they were just visiting your website, or that they filled out a form but didn’t submit it.

Likewise, don’t have your sales team immediately call that prospect for a “chat”. Practice some restraint and reach out to your customers in a strategic way. This involves delivering them personalized content and information about your company and products in a respectable timeframe. In other words, nurture them. The minute a customer starts to feel like they’re being bombarded or harassed, they will unsubscribe. By practicing self-restraint, this can be avoided.

Segmenting Options for Personalization

Now that we know when to contact a prospect and with what content, let’s talk a bit about the different options you have in Pardot to build out a segmentation list. There are four main ways to go about segmenting your prospects. You can use an automation rule, segmentation rule, one-off, or dynamic list. Each will accomplish a similar result, but each has their pros and cons.

One-off segmentation

This involves creating a placeholder list and manually adding prospects. This can be done in a multi-select table view, or on an individual basis. This can be handy if it is a list that you slowly want to be able to add prospects to. Perhaps you use the list for a completion action or even as an action in an engagement studio program.

Segmentation Rule

You can define your prospect criteria and pull a list of everyone that currently qualifies for it. Think of it as a snapshot in time. If you just want to send out one email, perhaps to a group of prospects who attended an event, this is a great option. The people that attended that specific event won’t change, so you won’t need the list to change.

Automation Rule

Similar to a segmentation rule, the automation rule also pulls a list of people that match with a designated criteria. However, the automation rule will continue to look for matches. This can be especially helpful if you want to use the list multiple times, or want to make sure that you aren’t missing any new leads

Dynamic List

This is my personal favorite because it provides the most up to date information. Like the automation rule, a dynamic list will continue to search for new matches. The difference is that a dynamic list will also look for prospects who no longer match.

For instance, a prospect might have been in a certain opportunity stage at one point, but they have since moved out of it. This is especially helpful for personalized content or engagement programs because the right prospects will always get the right information.

Don’t be Creepy

Now that you know how to balance personalization versus creepiness, and know which segmentation tool is the best for you, it’s time to start putting your skills to use! Make your marketing automation tool work for you by setting it up correctly, utilizing the data you have available, and personalizing your content. Your prospects will appreciate you for it, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Need Marketing Services?

We're marketing automation experts.

Get in touch and we'll help.