We often rave about personalization wins from our customers, supported by Tealium’s CDP, but what about personalization fails? It’s no surprise that customers – yourself and myself and everyone in between included – have expectations for how companies should personalize their customer experiences. And when there’s a glitch in the Matrix… I mean Martech stack… powering that personalization, we’re all collectively “tuned in”. We notice. As people, even non-marketing professionals recognize when marketing personalization has gone awry. 

We asked for submissions on some of people’s favorite marketing personalization fails and the humor of it all is a big success. 

Personalization Fails: “Email Amateur Hour”

“One of my favorite brands somehow sends me two copies of every email. I still love them, but it’s getting old! The fact that I won’t sign up for their text alerts may have something to do with the email amateur hour situation.”

annoyed cat

“Every time I click through to this one company’s website, they try to get me to sign up for their email list for 15% off, despite the fact that I literally clicked through from their email list.”

“I ordered something from one of my favorite fashion brands before realizing I’d ordered the wrong size. I’ve already contacted support and canceled and re-ordered correctly… and the item has already arrived!! Yet I’m still getting emailed every day about the order I cancelled. Help!”

“I bought my girlfriend a gift one, single time from a company I shop with regularly and now for the rest of my life the company is sending me both their emails for men and women. I’m too scared to hit the unsubscribe button because I can’t tell if it will give me the option to adjust my preferences or if it will just be unsubscribed me from the whole thing!”

Email Field Merge Fails

unknown unknown


“I guess I could have been “Known Unknown”?”

field merge fail

“I just love when a company’s mail merge template doesn’t work properly! At least it’s a good laugh.”

Personalization Fails: Poor Targeting

“LOL I just got an email about solar panels for homeowners in Florida… Problem is that I’m a renter in San Diego!”

woman bewildered on phone

“I just got targeted for a desk that is ‘great for a person who is 6’8”. Problem is I’m 5’2”! Where are they getting their info!”

“I recently got an email addressed to my daughter from her doctor. It was amazing how off-target it was. The content was about Botox… my daughter is 6!”

“I was recently sent a special offer… in the wrong language! The subject was in English,  but the entire email was in Japanese!”

Personalization Fails: Not Connecting the Data Dots

“I spent hours online on a company’s website, engaging in social, looking at the app trying to fix an issue I was having with the product. After having no luck, I called the call center and literally had to repeat the entire story, despite the fact that they should’ve known that I was having issues, and exactly what I was having issues with. To top it off, the first call center agent listened to my entire story, then said they couldn’t help and transferred me to another person, and the process began again. Maddening!”

man with sticky notes over his eyes at computer

“Treating a loyal VIP like a first-time customer… I’m both a loyal VIP and a SHAREHOLDER of a company and they still target me with first-time customer messaging. #facepalm”

“I placed an order with a retailer three days ago… Today I got an email letting me know they missed me and had found some sweaters that would apparently look great on me. They were also offering me $15 off – to buy the sweater I’d already purchased!”

“I bought and returned a desk two weeks ago because it didn’t suit my room… I’ve since bought a different one from the same company that is perfect! If only they could stop targeting me with ads for the desk I didn’t want.”

“I started a bank account application on my phone with a new bank and abandoned halfway through the sign up process. I did give them my email address and, credit to them, they emailed me to come back and complete. Problem is, I DID complete the application and became a customer on my laptop (easier to fill in the whole application) and now they’re still reaching out trying to convert me.”

Personalization Fails: And Just… LOL

“An insurance company recently provided this very generous discount – of zero pounds! They also included a sentence to make your head hurt… ‘We give you information to help you make in informed choice but we don’t provide advice on whether our products are suitable for you.’ Helpful!”

“I had to take in my leased car for some warranty work the other week and during the process I gave them my email. Somehow, that got me onto a list where I’ve been called, texted, and emailed about how they’re willing to pay fantastic sums of money for my car so they can fill up their used car lot. Since I can’t likely sell them the car I lease from them, maybe they’d be interested in my Mustang because it’s the 2nd newest car I own. Filled out their form, attached this recent picture, and I guess play the waiting game!”


Personalization Win!

“My favorite pizza company recently sent me a text to place an order before their rush hour hit so I could get it at my regular delivery time. I order from them regularly and they knew my normal order time and if they hadn’t of pinged me to place the order early I would have had to wait way longer! It’s small, but was much appreciated and I really feel like they know me.”

All laughter aside, personalization is becoming more important everyday, and customers are becoming ever so savvy to our personalization wins… and fails. Customer Data Platforms help companies avoid all of these personalization fails and to create winning customer experiences that will build brand loyalty instead of giving customers a good eye roll!

For a free demo on how Tealium can help you fail proof your marketing, contact us today!

Post Author

Hilary Noonan
Hilary is Director of Content at Tealium.

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