Digital Marketing, Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Do you Value the Data Privacy of your Customers?

Data Privacy

A Marketer’s guide to navigating through Data Privacy Regulations & Restrictions

The Renaissance

A revolution took place 20 years ago; Marketing entered a period of renaissance. Marketers saw endless possibilities to learn about their consumers and cater to their needs, scrupulously. We began uncovering every detail, from how our consumers liked their coffee to which tv show they wound down to after work. Information was at our disposal.

Social media, modern smart devices that everyone held in their palms, and marketing technology encompassing a range of software and tools that helps to create, communicate, and deliver offerings, paved the way for this renaissance. This advent also popularized tiny snippets of code known as tracking pixels that allowed companies to gather information about visitors on their websites. Information about how they browsed and what ads they clicked on, alongside access to viewing visitors’ IP addresses, all of which allowed marketers to literally follow their customers with each virtual step they took.

Additionally, smart devices started listening in and allowed marketers to match conversations with just the right product or service advertisement that a user saw online. Geotagging made it possible to understand the movement, location, and time-based behaviour of potential clients. These and other perceptive technology let marketers take more than just a peek at the lives of the people they were interested in to create a comprehensive profile of an individual. How very convenient! Sometimes marketing algorithms knew more about a person’s preferences, schedules, consumption patterns, and aspirations, more than the person himself! Many stories bear witness to this history: one famous example is that of a father who learned that his teenage daughter was pregnant, solely based on the Target ads the home received in the mail, for baby clothes and cribs. Rude surprise indeed!

No secret was safe. Surveillance was everywhere and marketers made use of it in the name of customizing services and appealing to their audience more effectively. Questions about whether this was ethical were not in the forefront, at least not until recently.

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The Shift: The Introductions of Data Privacy Laws

Times are changing, and with it, customers too. We are now in an era where it is not only necessary but also moral to understand that customer privacy and the right to discretion are of paramount importance. It is also the marketers’ responsibility to respect these boundaries.

This is why in 2018, the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law on data protection and privacy. In simple terms, it is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the European Union and addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

Subsequently, California introduced the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). At the same time Brazil launched the Brazilian Data Protection Law  or ‘Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados’ (LGPD). More countries around the world began strictly regulating what companies could do with customer data. Soon, hardware manufacturers jumped onboard this momentous train. They started to create apps that limit and regulate the transmission of user data to manufacturers. The culture of protecting privacy is here and will see more traction in the future which will result in more parameters being set.

The Future

What does this culture mean for the future of marketing? Marketers are now required to stop unethically spying and start listening to what consumers willingly communicate.

This can happen by reverting to mom & pop shop models that were popular 50 years ago where relationship marketing was at the core of success. The model thrived on building relationships with customers on an intimate level and taking care of their needs because the owners learned who they are and what they needed by being sensitive and open to their conversations.

The advent of data privacy regulations has put the choice of whom to patronize in the hands of the consumers. Not only do your customers have the power to negatively rate you into oblivion on social media sites and the landscape of web 2.0 if you step over the boundary. They can also simply decide not to engage with you at all. Doing so by denying to accept cookies and blocking you from tracking anything about their preferences, if they perceive you to be untrustworthy. And the fact is, without their permission, you cannot collect information for analytics and will soon end up in a data vacuum. A trudge back to the not-so-digital 1950s.

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The Plan for Tomorrow

Here are some tips to navigate through the future which would entail respecting consumer privacy whilst succeeding as a marketer:

  • Build your customer relationship capabilities by engaging with them with their consent. Ask customers and page viewers how you could be of help to enhance their experience with you. Listen to their responses and make the required alterations. Most importantly, be available to answer their questions whether online or in the physical store. This can be achieved by installing chatbots on websites, a simple ‘comments & feedback’ section, opinion polls on social media, or the plain old way of employing shop assistants who offer support. Simply put, be available and open to communication.
  • Utilize permitted high-powered digital marketing tools to lay the groundwork and to provide value to your customers. MarTech tools such as Hootsuite and HubSpot enable you to organize your messaging and create effective content. Platforms such as Google Analytics and Matomo (formerly Piwik) allow you to analyze data you can track. They let you view reports on visitors to your website. Apps such as Salesforce, Totango, and once again HubSpot help you with managing customer relationships, seamlessly. Use the marketing technology available to ethically learn about your consumers and serve them better.
  • Focus on the success of the customer, whether he or she is a loyal and frequent customer or a passer-by.

Tools powered by Marketing Technology have been refined over the past 20 years to be consumer-friendly and to protect their rights and privacy. With technology adapting to the new more conscientious consumer landscape, marketers too are invited to make the shift to be in synch with the modern, discerning consumer.

The NYMA is here to guide you through the shift. We provide you with marketing insight on how to navigate the ‘now’ through its courses and blog posts available on demand. Click here to schedule a free consultation and ask questions about this ‘shift.’

Let me know by leaving a comment or by getting in touch.


About Maurice

Maurice Hofmann is a serial entrepreneur, marketing and digital marketing specialist, who is known for his innovative drive as well as his ability to lead cross functional teams to achieve the highest level of success. In his 20 year spanning career, he has experienced all aspects of marketing, working in various global roles spreading across TV production, Army ‘Psychological Operations, as an owner of a Brand Experience agency or as a leader of marketing departments for several software companies, start-ups and as a M

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