Thanks to a convergence of tools and technologies, brands today have unprecedented access to consumer data. This has opened up a world of new opportunities as marketers are better able to identify consumers who are interested in their products, what their preferences are, and how best to engage them.
Marketers have never been more capable of delivering the right message at the right time than with the help of data, which is key to developing successful marketing strategies. Every business relies on tons of data to better understand the shifting customer behaviour – in order to make concrete business decisions, improve engagement and deliver personalized experiences. Simply put, having access to data means having the ability to analyse and optimise your marketing efforts. More data equals more optimisation, which equals better ROI, right? In the words of author and consultant, Geoffrey Moore, “Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like a deer on a freeway.”
However, against the backdrop of data breaches, such as the infamous Facebook–Cambridge Analytical data scandal, modern customers have become increasingly sceptical about data collection and privacy. This has tremendously shifted the marketing landscape, propelling governments to impose regulations with heavy emphasis around data privacy and security.
In 2018, the EU took a harsh stance against data breaches and enforced the toughest privacy and security laws in the world, called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The regulation levies harsh penalties against those who violate its privacy and security standards. In January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into effect, enhancing the privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California. Singapore’s Personal Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2020 came into effect in February this year. The revision incorporates a mandatory data breach notification regime with financial penalties, and requires organisations to notify relevant authorities and affected individuals of a data breach within three days. Meanwhile, Apple has launched a more restrictive privacy update on its mobile operating system, where users can choose to opt out of personalized ads which significantly limits the way users are tracked. The final nail in the coffin was when Google announced its plans to phase out third-party cookies that track browsing habits by 2023.
Consumer trepidation, along with the onslaught of these new regulations, has left marketers wondering about target consumers without access to critical data needed to formulate key marketing messages for their intended audience.
How then can marketers move forward? Here are some helpful tips to consider:
- Define what you stand for: The first step to moving forward is to have a clear understanding of your brand’s core values and principles, and how these impact privacy and transparency. Aligning your actions to your defined core values and principles will shape your brand’s vision and its culture. Moreover, defining what your company stands for can demonstrate to customers that the company is not just another faceless entity seeking to exploit their data.
- Focus on first-party data: First-party data refers to information collected directly from customers. By building relationships with consumers and maintaining frequent and continuous communication chains, brands can not only identify their key demographics but also understand their customer’s thoughts and concerns. To collect first-party data, simply ask a customer to share information and data in exchange for benefits, like offering free shipping on a purchase. This first-hand data will be useful in creating the right marketing messages and in the development of clear privacy policies that put users in control.
- Leverage analytical tools: While complex data regulations make it difficult for marketers to collect and assess data, the solution to this can easily be found with the right attribution models and approach toward marketing analytics. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytical tools such as OneTrust and Alation, can provide insights and reduce the potential for non-compliance with global data protection regulations. Prominent brands often use these tools to analyse customer interactions and determine whether the proper disclosure of data collection as per the CCPA or GDPR has occurred. These tools also automatically prompt marketing teams in real time to share the required disclosure information.
- Put the word out: In leveraging an omnichannel approach, marketers need to adopt transparent communication and messaging on all its platforms. This means putting the word out regarding your data collection policies where consumers can easily access and vet through. Some marketers have already taken the necessary steps to seek permission from consumers regarding their personal data collection. For instance, the incorporation of opt-in checkboxes that asks for user’s consent for cookie tracking and the creation of dedicated web pages where users can access, modify, or delete their personal information.
In the era of heightened digital media consumption and the current work from home situation, companies are heavily reliant on digital data to efficiently reach their customer base. As global regulations create more conversation and urgency around data privacy, transparency is the only solution to guaranteed marketing success.By giving modern consumers the liberty to opt in or opt out of data collection, brands are making significant changes to responsibly safeguard customer privacy and maintain compliance as well as consumer trust. However, data quality is often overlooked when compared with data quantity (more isn’t always better!).
Looking to the future, marketing teams would need to take note of how data collection provides value to the company’s best practices and what risks are involved in storing such enormous loads of data.