Holiday shopping can be an exhausting experience, even online. There are so many places to visit and choices to make. You like to believe that the product and service recommendations you receive while shopping are helping show you the best bargains and important special offers. This is the claim made by many behavioral tracking advertisers. Their PhD-designed computer algorithms watch your every move and help predict what you might want to see.
But what happens when one of these friendly helpers has an ulterior motive such as selling your information to someone else or using it to invade your shopping privacy? These five tips will help ensure that you get the most from your holiday shopping experience and keep the unwanted intruders at bay.
1. Beware of upsells and add-ons
It is common practice to offer additional related items to a customer who just completed a purchase. If you purchased a pair of shoes, it is logical for marketers to assume that you might want socks or even another pair of shoes. How you deal with these prompts tells the vendor a lot about your tendencies and preferences. Most importantly, it tells them that you DO or DO NOT respond to such advertisements. Vendors design their sites and shopping carts based on this behavior. If you ignore such prompts, or quickly navigate away from the site after receiving your purchase confirmation, you will be less likely to become a statistic and more likely to keep your personal privacy intact.
2. Use a different email address
One of the biggest annoyances surrounding online shopping is the increase in follow-up emails that are sent after you make your purchase. Good marketers know that existing customers are their best customers, so almost every purchase you make online will result in a series of emails designed to get you back to the site to buy something else. Most sites assume that by making a purchase from them, you have voluntarily “opted in” to their email marketing campaigns. But don’t forget that you can opt-out by clicking on each email’s unsubscribe link, while this sounds easy enough, it can sometimes be a time-consuming, painful process. Instead, go to gmail.google.com and get a new gmail email address that you can use exclusively for online shopping. Make sure to create a legitimate email address because some purchases will require you to validate it. Once you finish holiday shopping, you can then choose to either ignore or cancel that gmail account, and your ‘real’ email inbox will remain spam-free.
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