Balancing Personalized Marketing and Data Privacy

Personalization|7 Minute Read

Balancing Personalized Marketing and Data Privacy

In the era of data privacy and security (see: routine data breaches of sensitive data across the United States and around the globe that continue to lower consumers’ confidence in brands), there are three top goals for just about every consumer-oriented company today:

  • 1) Protect the personal data of every contact in their (often) vast database ecosystems.
  • 2) Build personalized marketing strategies geared toward prospects and customers.
  • 3) Create a meaningful value exchange with individuals (i.e., provide personalized recommendations and offers in exchange for them ‘opting in’ to their marketing).

And all three business and marketing objectives are inextricably tied to one another.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), among other data measures, certainly amplified the need for marketers at all brands to craft consent-focused marketing programs.

But delivering personalized experiences while also protecting sensitive information associated with contacts in their database was already a pressing priority for most marketers well before the European Union data privacy law went into effect.

Now, consumers expect every marketing campaign, targeted ad, and promotional email brands deliver to them to contribute to a positive customer experience for them.

(In other words, not make them regret allowing brands to market to them in the first place.)

Therein lies the (potential) problem for your consumer-centric engagement efforts:

How can you leverage the personal information and data provided by opted-in individuals in personalized marketing across channels in an effective manner while ensuring compliance with data regulations?

For marketers such as yourself, it starts with constructing a concerted (and, ideally, automated) consent management strategy, federating consent across their technology ecosystem, and understanding exactly how they can best utilize the first-party data their target audience proactively provides them in their marketing.

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Powerful personalized marketing possible with right data privacy approach

Identify individuals who engage with you online. Create persistent customer profiles for them. Get them to opt in to receive personalized emails and messaging. Deliver said messages (the value exchange for opting in) at the most applicable places and times.

That’s the (oversimplified) personalized marketing strategy formula for success.

But it’s nonetheless a formula many B2C marketers have mastered in recent years — and one that’s led to strong customer experience strategies and sizable ROI. For example:

Retailers with advanced personalization approaches earn up to $20 for every $1 invested in their personalized marketing efforts, per a 2019 Liveclicker study.

And where do many marketing teams begin with their data privacy-oriented personalization programs? Onboarding a consent management platform (CMP).

Standalone CMPs have become popular in recent years. But many forward-thinking brands have instead invested in more robust technologies, like customer data platforms (CDP) that offer end-to-end consent management functionality, to update and maintain records of the consent preferences of their ‘data subjects’ (a.k.a. prospects and customers) in real time.

Doing so eliminates potentially redundant tech in their stacks and ensures the consent status for every person in their database environment is accurate at all times.

This, in turn, leads to confident utilization of their customer data in every facet of their strategies: from email campaigns (or, more preferably, orchestrated lifecycles) to target segments to individualized landing page experiences with personalized content for prospects (e.g., dialogues promoting products of interest based on past engagement).

Having said that, it’s become increasingly difficult for many marketing organizations today to discern both how much data is enough to build scalable personalization programs and the right types of data to leverage in personalized marketing strategies.

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First-party customer data now brands’ most valuable personalization resource

Writing for Forbes, BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach argued marketers can no longer accumulate customer data for the sake of it. Rather, they need to be intentional with their collection and utilization of consented first-party data:

“Data can’t just be scraped and left to sit on the shelf (or stored in a data warehouse). Ensuring your data collection doesn’t become a liability means determining if having that data is really necessary, and if so, why.”

Just consider how BlueConic customer America’s Test Kitchen makes the most of the first-party data collected from its audience across systems (CRM, ESP, adtech) and channels (email, site, ads) and ‘puts into play’ with our customer data platform (CDP).

America’s Test Kitchen Director of Marketing, CRM & Audience Strategy Sarah Desmarais said her initial goal was to unify as much relevant, useful data in her CDP tenant as possible:

“The first year that we had a CDP in house, we spent a lot of time working on it, ensuring that we were tracking absolutely everything that we could track.”

Once data unification became streamlined, though, Desmarais and her team turned their attention to segmenting audiences and developing a personalized marketing playbook — that is, determining how they could best leverage their first-party data:

“[N]ow that we’ve been able to use insights and ensure that we are making some actionable decisions off of the data that we’re collecting, it makes it that much easier for us to move forward.”

Confidence knowing the consent status for all contacts in its database ecosystem is accurate and actionable: That’s what America’s Test Kitchen has been able to realize with our pure-play customer data platform at the center of its lifecycle marketing program.

For instance, if Desmarais and Co. need to adjust specific personalized marketing activities (e.g., revamping email messaging sent to certain segments to better align with their interests and latest behavior), they can do so quickly and efficiently — largely due to the fact they can access and activate all their data in our CDP’s single user interface.

What’s more, if an individual no longer meets the criteria for a given segment — particularly if they’ve opted out of marketing communications — the America’s Test Kitchen team can rest easy, knowing they won’t inadvertently market to that person or violate any data privacy regulations (and, in turn, face weighty penalties for non-compliance).

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Prioritizing lifecycle orchestration your path to personalized marketing success

Customer lifecycle orchestration is the next logical evolution of personalized marketing (well, more specifically, individualized, one-to-one marketing) for a few simple reasons:

Consumers have always controlled when and where they interact with brands.

However, marketers now have the ability to not only discern where each individual is in their respective customer journey, but also deliver distinct value to them along the way.

All that’s required to do so is to secure the optimal system — one that:

  • Unifies all pertinent first-party data associated with prospects and customers and their journeys (but not so much that you end up with ‘analysis paralysis’ and activation issues)
  • Helps you and your team manage the consent preferences for every individual in your database environment, comply with consumer data privacy measures (GDPR, CCPA, etc.) and federate consent out to other critical marketing technology systems
  • Protects data for all prospects and customers — an oft-overlooked factor many brands (particularly enterprises) fail to account for in their technology evaluations today
  • Facilitates intelligent lifecycle orchestration activities to individuals and personalized marketing messaging with to your most important segments across channels

Of course, technology is just one piece of the personalized marketing puzzle.

As Cory noted in her Forbes piece, the personnel charged with handling and using data in their day-to-day roles as well as the processes they develop around their data collection and utilization matter just as much as onboarding the right solution.

Without direction from leadership on a data governance framework and the ideal team in place to take advantage of data for opted-in individuals (who may not remained opted in forever), a lifecycle orchestration-enabling system won’t help you and your marketing org.

But when everyone is on the same page regarding how data will be collected, stored, and managed, data privacy has been addressed with a consent management plan, and marketing has the proper tech to liberate consented data, achieving today’s business goals becomes a lot easier.

Watch our lifecycle marketing webinar to determine how you can advance your personalized marketing strategy and better engage your prospects and customers.

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See what BlueConic can do for you.