The Future of Data Privacy and How to Prepare Your Marketing Initiatives for 2023
“We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly” (Thank you Pew Research Center for that chilling quote.) Up until now, marketers have enjoyed the luxury of scuba diving into customer data the size of the Pacific Ocean.
However, those days of endless granular data are coming to an end. Between the advent of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), brands like Apple changing their privacy policies, and many (MANY) data scandals, consumers have become increasingly aware (and worried) of their data privacy. 2023 seems to be the year for data privacy compliance—even Google Almighty decided to smite the third-party cookies come later next year.
But while consumers are (rightfully) demanding more agency over their data privacy, and companies are modifying their policies accordingly, where does that leave you, a data-driven marketer, whose job depends on having access to all this juicy data? Well, don’t panic, because if you're the kind of marketer who wants to continue targeting consumers while being respectful of their data privacy, you’ve got options!
Why Consumer Privacy is Shifting
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, cookies are as delicious as they sound (well… in our line of work they are.) Cookies are small text files used to track user data and behavior meant to help you deliver the most relevant and targeted content to your buyer—except when in the hands of bad actors.
You see, many data regulations came on the heels of horrendous privacy scandals (remember Cambridge Analytica?) which only heightened the public's concern about how their data is being mishandled. In Feb 2021, an estimated 37% of all websites on the internet used non-secure cookies—putting many people’s personal information at risk. In the aftermath of shattered consumer trust and confidence, companies are now tasked with rethinking how to best collect, store and access consumer data to restore the public’s faith.
Today, 97% of organizations have increased their spending on data privacy, with an average increase of 50%. For your marketing team, however, staying data privacy compliant is only half the battle—the other half is knowing how to adjust your marketing strategies to thrive in the new era.
Marketing in this New Era of Consumer Data Protection
Let’s face it, as a marketer, you might feel caught between a rock and a hard place right now. Not only are you contending with the challenges of garnering new customers and engaging current ones, but navigating around the new constraints of data privacy seems like an impossible feat. The good news: it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Here are 3 ways to adapt to the change:
1. Be as Transparent as Possible
You’ll need to be open and clear about how you’ll use your customers’ data if you want to repair their trust. According to a Sprout Social survey, 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important now more than ever. Transparency builds trust, trust turns into loyalty, and loyalty ensures long-lasting customer relationships.
Not only should you state your data usage policy, but stick to what you say. For example, you shouldn’t start bombarding your customers with promotional offers after you stated you’re only collecting data for research purposes.
Google states that the best way to balance data-driven marketing and privacy protection is to collect data responsibly. Your data privacy policies should be in plain sight and easily accessible on your website. Providing visitors with explicit consent to opt in and out of data collection is a surefire way of making them feel secure.
2. Reject Third-Party Cookies, Embrace First-Party Cookies
Again, Google is axing support for third-party cookies in 2023, so now’s the perfect time to get comfortable with first-party cookies and zero-party data! Here’s the breakdown of all three.
While third-party cookies follow users hopping from your site to another, first-party cookies only track users interacting with your site.
Zero-party data puts the onus on the customer to proactively and intentionally share information with your business. It’s the ultimate form of customer consent, since providing information like communication preferences and purchase intentions is explicitly voluntary.
Interactions with customers will always grant you data, so it’s likely you won't have to start from scratch once third-party cookies leave. Untapped point-of-sales or CRM data are just a few starting points you can use to fill in the gaps.
3. Give Customer Value for Customer Data
74% of consumers are frustrated by irrelevant advertising and expect their data to be used for personalized experiences. If you first provide them with something of value, customers will be more willing to reciprocate the data you desire.
Personalization in the form of loyalty programs and subscription emails can create a sense of exclusivity that makes customers feel more valued than the average buyer. No one wants to be spammed with insincere emails leading with requests for consent to use their data. The more personalized your marketing, the more your customers will feel valued and seen as individuals instead of just another number.