data privacy

Navigating Data Privacy Compliance in a Privacy-Conscious World

As long as your data privacy infrastructure is compliant, and you have the tools to analyze and manipulate it, first party data can put you back in control.

Today, a personalized customer experience is not just a ‘nice to have’. Consumers are overwhelmed with choice, bombarded with offers for products and services through every channel and at all times of day. In this complex environment, customers are more confused than ever. In fact, research from Emarsys found that 77% of consumers struggle with purchasing decisions – more than decisions in their relationships (58%), their work life (55%), or even decisions related to their parenting (53%). 

by Meghann York

To overcome this level of choice overload, brands are striving to deliver truly 1:1 personalized communications. By using the data that they collect to paint a more vivid image of each customer, they’re able to provide consumers with the most relevant recommendations possible, at a time and on a platform that suits them best. In other words, they can prove that they understand you.

Getting to that point is not always plain sailing. Successful personalization comes with the ever-growing challenge of data privacy, with consumers more and more conscious of the value inherent in their data. You need to be able to personalize campaigns everywhere — and that means that you need consumers to invite you into their omnichannel journey.

In the last few years, we’ve seen a shift in legislation and company policy towards a more robust protection of consumers’ data. GDPR came into force in January 2021, drastically raising the required security for customer data privacy compliance. Tracking behaviors are changing too, with Google indicating that it will complete the phasing out of third-party cookiesby 2024.

So, for businesses to reap the benefits of personalization, they need to be able to tap into much more closely guarded data streams. But how?

Harness first party data

The most effective way to tackle privacy concerns is to focus efforts on first-party data; that is to say, data that a company collects directly from its customers, through an agreement with each individual to allow that company access.

First-party data provides more detail on your customers than any other kind of data. You can find out a lot about consumers based on their behavior, like browsing activity and purchase history — especially as it’s in the context of your products, on your website.

Not only does first-party data come with less risk of privacy incidents by its very nature, but first-party data is also more accurate, more easily collected, and of a much higher quality than second or third-party data. It feeds directly into your chosen data platform, and has been through no processing before your organization is in control of it.

What’s more, compared with other data types, privacy concerns surrounding first-party data collection are minimal. You know where it came from, how it was gathered, whether you have the necessary consent to use it — and you essentially own it outright.

As long as your data privacy infrastructure is compliant, and you have the tools to analyze and manipulate it, first party data can put you back in control. However, that’s at the behest of your customers — and they aren’t going to hand over their data without getting something in return.

Incentivizing data sharing

While personalization is mutually beneficial for businesses and consumers, this isn’t enough for many consumers to feel at ease handing over their personal data. Conscious of the threat of cybersecurity breaches, and the feeling of being ‘observed’ rather than ‘recognized’, the vast majority (88%) of consumers say their willingness to share personal information is based on how much they trust a company.

To build a trusted relationship, companies need to avoid intrusive approaches. Forceful data collection tactics are the last thing a brand needs when it comes to building trust, with many consumers skeptical of any permission requests. Even when those requests are accepted, mishandling data privacy leads to a collapse in trust.

Where brands earn their trust is the ‘value exchange’ — the clear offer of reward in exchange for access to first-party customer data. This can come in many forms, with extended loyalty programmes, gated content offers, and enhanced features like wish lists all tempting different customers to the table.

Consumers are rightfully taking back control of their data. It’s up to brands that genuinely care about the behaviors, preferences, and security of their customers to find the value exchange that will gain them access to the first-party data that is so important to their marketing and sales teams. Without it, you won’t have the opportunity to engage anywhere that your customer goes.

Power to the marketer

Before businesses can implement a resilient first-party data strategy, they need the technology and the infrastructure to collate and examine it. Customer data needs to be collected, organized, and unified. Businesses won’t be able to unlock its potential if it’s stuck in silos, or in an unusable condition.

Marketers are capable of this, with their role expanding to incorporate data analytics in recent years. But the problem is that today’s marketers are already stretched incredibly thin. A thinly stretched in-house team cannot guarantee the time to be data analysts on top of all their other responsibilities.

This is where marketers are now increasingly turning to technology to reclaim the hours in their day. By adopting new tech, like customer engagement platforms (CEPs), marketers are now drawing from multiple data sources to create comprehensive customer profiles, centralizing the data required to provide marketers with a genuine understanding of each customer.

These tools draw precise conclusions about customers’ preferences, allowing markers to target different audiences easily and effectively, and achieve scalable 1:1 personalization.

Make or break

There’s no escaping the fact that data is a brand’s most valuable asset. A data-backed view of customers requires the right tech to streamline personalization across any channel, and brands wedded to legacy tech and data silos run the constant risk of being left behind.

You need to be customer-obsessed – using omnichannel strategies to meet your customers where they are, with the content that they want, with ease. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, brands are now doing so, going beyond the basics toward hyper-personalization — the ability to automate CX across any channel, in real time. 

Combine that with securely stored first-party data and analytics to track personalization success and brands can provide a truly exceptional customer experience, ready-made for a privacy-conscious world.

Meghann York is Global Head of Product Marketing at Emarsys

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

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