Personalization in the Age of Consumer Privacy

Personalization|10 Minute Read

Personalization in the Age of Consumer Privacy

The goal posts for successful web personalization efforts have been moved for marketers.

More broadly, the rules of the personalized marketing “game” — especially those pertaining to privacy — have changed for just about every digital marketing professional worldwide.

A McKinsey survey on consumer data and the level of personalization brands can deliver today described how the new landscape offers new opportunity and risk for businesses:

“User data provides companies with rich opportunities for creating personalized experiences and tailoring services to customer needs. At the same time, recent high-profile abuses of consumer data have raised concerns over how companies can strike the right balance between personalization and privacy.”

Emerging consumer data privacy laws like GDPR and the CCPA. New browser privacy changes, such as Apple’s ITP. A general lack of brand trust on the part of consumers. (Many of whom are already skeptical of sharing personal information with companies.)

All these customer behavior-related events and trends have sparked an entirely new era of marketing for organizations across industries and niches worldwide.

In this era, marketers need to pay attention regarding how they obtain and maintain consent and eventually activate that consented data in personalized, one-to-one marketing.

Moreover, these marketing professionals need to ensure they respect all prospects’ and customers’ privacy preferences and quickly abide by their consent opt-out requests.

These data-oriented changes will certainly continue to alter the marketing landscape and impact how brands go about creating unique experiences for target audiences.

But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to provide highly customized (and high-converting) personalization offerings: from content and product recommendations via email and ads to on-site messaging based on recent digital activity and engagement.

As long as marketers such as yourself implement a comprehensive consent management approach and use the right martech — starting with the customer data platform (CDP) — they’ll continue to extract value from their personalization strategies.


What does a successful personalization strategy look like in 2020 (and beyond)?

The Association of National Advertisers named “Personalization” its 2019 Word of the Year. An indication of the marketing approach’s popularity and importance for brands today.

What’s more, 80% of consumer respondents of a recent Epsilon survey stated they’re more likely to buy from a business if they receive regularly personalized customers experiences based on their past engagement with and purchases from that brand.

And yet, according to Gartner, the same percentage of digital marketers who’ve built personalization strategies will abandon them by 2025 due to insufficient ROI.

The biggest obstacle to achieving marketing ROI through personalization strategies? Per the research, “weaknesses in data collection, integration and protection.”

And with new data privacy laws amplifying the need for a refined data collection and protection strategy, customer data utilization is only becoming more complicated.

These opposing viewpoints and statistics beg the questions:

“What is personalization today? And how exactly do marketers make the most of the tactic in the age of growing consumer privacy and distrust?”

Here’s what digital experts have to say about the present and future of personalization and what marketers can do to adjust to the “new normal” of consent-driven strategies:

  • Forrester VP, Group Director Melissa Parrish and Analyst Steph Liu stated marketers “must grapple with how they can serve consumers’ individual needs, expressed on the customers’ own terms” to win and retain their trust and business over the long haul.
  • Marwick Marketing CEO Christian Thomson wrote for Forbes that “2020 is going to be the year of personalized marketing,” adding consumers will “tune out” generic ads with little relevance to their wants and needs and engage with more personalized messaging.
  • Franklin Sports Digital Marketing Analyst Aaron Seitz indicated the accumulation of first-party data in a single source of truth, like a CDP, allows brands to “decide what levers to pull with that data and … personalization” to best convert customers.
  • Gartner Senior Principal Advisor Eleni Lee explained that, in the “era of Data Veracity,” speed and accuracy now take precedence with marketers’ personalization strategies. Segmenting high-value audiences and customizing content to them is vital.
  • SAP CMO Kevin Cochrane noted in Harvard Business Review that building trust with one’s audience requires ditching third-party data and implementing transparent personalization activities in which the value exchange is clearly explained.

Personalization is clearly viewed differently based on one’s niche, industry, and goals.

One commonly shared perception among these individuals and other top marketers, though, is “winning” with personalization is still very much possible today.

Even with the steady demise of third-party cookies, the rollout of new consumer data privacy regulations, and a continual rise in consumer pessimism regarding brands across the globe.

And the CDP is the martech for brands looking to improve their personalization strategies.


Benefits of personalized marketing approaches remain numerous for brands

Increased email marketing open rates due to custom-tailored subject lines. Higher conversion rates from integrated campaigns based on segments’ interests. A better CX for (and greater customer satisfaction among) existing customers through targeted messaging.

The pros of personalized content and product recommendations to distinct buyer segments and individual customers who consent to receive such offers remain many.

The key to see your marketing metrics continue to scale at a strong pace lies in testing, optimizing, and refining your personalized marketing with modern marketing technology that unifies all customer profiles and associated details in a single database.

Enter the CDP, which enables this perpetual personalization polishing, but in a consent-driven fashion that puts customers’ preferences at the forefront of your daily efforts.

Tactic #1: Targeted ads to current, prospective customers

The efficacy of targeted advertising varies widely by sector.

All in all, though, it seems consumers at large are receptive to receiving personalized ads — so long as they serve relevant, timely messaging to them.

Adlucent research shows 71% of internet users prefer advertising that factors in their shopping interests and buying habits (e.g., purchase history, product pages viewed).

However, marketers need to consider their audience’s reception to promotional messaging, as three-quarters of these same users want to see fewer ads altogether.

It’s this sometimes-tricky balance marketers need to realize with their advertising to get the most bang for the buck on Facebook, Google, and other ad platforms they use.

Thankfully, with a CDP like BlueConic, marketers who run targeted advertising for their organizations get the complete single customer view of all contacts — visitors, prospects, buyers, and subscribers — and present ads attuned to their interest and interactions.

Additionally, our customers can figure out which individuals and segments tend to engage most with ads, which don’t, and, in turn, modify their ad targeting and reallocate their ad spend accordingly. (A prickly pain point for many digital marketers and CMOs).

For instance, BlueConic customers can see the engagement histories of every person in their unified database, bucket them accordingly based on traits and behaviors.

For example, they can see insights related to repeat buyers of high-ticket items and returning visitors who’ve never purchased, individuals with sizable CLV, etc.) and, eventually, activate that data in ongoing pay-per-click and display campaigns.


Tactic #2: Real-time, customized site messaging to users

In addition to building trust with and earning business from your audience via timely, personalized ads, you can also develop tailored, on-site dialogues.

These messages can keep your visitors — including and especially those who arrived via your advertising efforts — around longer. In turn, this gives you the chance to better engage with previously viewed and additional product pages, and, hopefully, convert them.

BlueConic customer recently put personalization at the forefront of its website re-launch. Serving up personalized, on-site messaging to promote deals to users based on past engagement contributed to a 15% bump in returning visitors.

The tourism brand didn’t stop there. It also encouraged repeat visitors to create accounts, thus giving it the ability to offer richer, individualized experiences upon subsequent sessions and based on saved itineraries of visitors and their persistently updated BlueConic profiles.

Regardless of business type, you can utilize content and product recommendation engines like those offered in BlueConic to better resonate with customers.

The key is to solely personalize messaging to those contacts who’ve explicitly expressed interest in a given products or services and “opted in” consent-wise.

For instance, BlueConic customers can segment consented prospects who have checked out the product page for a specific item at least X times in the last Y days.

These brands can then personalize on-site notifications on later site visits to entice them to buy then and there or convert in some other manner (e.g., form submission).

personalized recommendations

Tactic #3: Personalized emails based on engagement

And then there’s your email marketing program.

In the past, it may have proven difficult for you and your team to deliver the most compelling and pertinent personalized content to your audience in real time.

(Or as close as possible to real time, given your contacts’ engagement with your online and offline presence can change so suddenly, which can render some, most, or all of your personalized recommendations ill-suited to them.)

Simply put, that’s not the case when you have CDP such as BlueConic that offers advanced personalization features like open-time email recommendations.

With this feature, BlueConic customers can alter content and product recommendations in an email to specific segments to promote solely the most relevant items.

Let’s say you want to send a product update email for new items in your ecommerce store.

By setting rules for your open-time email recommendations in BlueConic (primary content to share first, then “fallback” options) and adding a simple HTML code snippet into your ESP editor (BlueConic integrates with all major ones), each recipient of that email will only see items that most directly interest them based on their dynamically updated customer profiles.

That means you won’t promote products they have minimal interest in, past products they’ve bought, or any other suggested items that wouldn’t appeal to them.

Rather, you and your team deliver timely, persuasive, personalized marketing emails that “update” in the background up until the second contacts open them.

Among the many email marketing best practices you ought to follow, sending the most personalized and appropriate emails possible is right at the top of that list.

Especially given it’s a great way to show recipients (see: leads and customers) you care about delivering only relevant content and product recommendations to them.


Perfecting your personalized marketing approach easier with a leading CDP

Promote only popular articles from your publication over the last week to readers.

Serve lookalike ads to anonymous visitors as they peruse product pages for similar items.

Convince cart abandoners to check out related items to ones they’ve viewed recently.

Send $1,000-dollar personalized gifts to top prospects. (Just kidding about this one.)

All these (well, the first three) personalization tactics can be implemented, tracked, and perfected with a pure-play CDP — one meant for marketers to own and operate.

Of course, it’s not all about just personalization today. Businesses can also can benefit from “hyper-personalization” strategies (i.e., individualized marketing).

Promoting products and content to large groups of customers makes sense for many companies. But individualizing deals to specific contacts is sometimes better for others.

Whether you have dozens of segments you market to differently or dozens of contacts in your database altogether you want to convert, the CDP is the platform modern marketers invest in to achieve their business goals, boost their marketing ROI, and build trust with their audiences through consented personalization strategies.

Find out how Franklin Sports developed its hyper-personalization strategy — and vastly improved its marketing ROI — with our customer data platform.

personalization strategy

See what BlueConic can do for you.

Whether you’re looking for operational efficiencies or improved marketing effectiveness through data activation, our customer data platform can help.