How to Strike a Balance Between Personalization and Privacy in Marketing
In the current marketing landscape, there is an ever-increasing need for personalization to help improve customer experience. Implementing personalization helps ensure that customers feel seen online and more connected to the products or services a business offers. At the same time, personal privacy needs to remain at the forefront, both as a means of respecting your customers and making sure that you are complying with different laws and industry regulations.
So, how does one strike the perfect balance between personalization and privacy in terms of marketing? On the path to personalization, there are a couple of key things that businesses should focus on:
- Compliance: Is the company acting according to industry regulations?
- Transparency: Is the company honest and open in communicating with its customers?
- Convenience: Are personalization tools being used to facilitate the customer experience, or are they acting in a way that is too aggressive?
Compliance Comes First
Privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), may not always be easy to follow and comply with, but they are the law. Making sure personalization does not cross the boundaries of such laws is not only mandatory but also simply good practice and good business sense.
As more privacy laws emerge around the world, sometimes requirements will be incompatible with those found in other states or countries. For example, consent management, such as website cookies, is required to be opt-out in California but opt-in in Europe. Because of this, investing in a solution that automatically manages personal data for your brand, such as Osano, is a wise move to protect your brand and organization in the long term.
Transparency is the Name of the Game
A few years ago, a specific type of retargeting technology, which I first noticed in the car rental industry, allowed advertisers to retarget users who had visited their website with an email message even though they had never shared their email address. This is an extreme example of a lack of transparency that would have serious legal ramifications under current privacy laws.
Technology from the example above makes for a surprising user experience with a strong potential for harming a company’s brand. When personalization goes so far that it spooks customers rather than impresses them, it’s a clear sign of a lack of transparency. It is always in an advertiser’s best interest to clearly tell their customers which personal information is being used and to what end to avoid unwanted surprises and negative feedback.
Convenience is the Goal
Advertisers’ main focus should be on providing a more convenient experience for consumers. Implementing features that save customers time, money, and frustration is a welcome use of personalization. Data from Accenture shows that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop from brands that recognize their past purchases and provide relevant offers.
As the data demonstrates, customers appreciate convenience when shopping, and in turn, convenience generates more sales and repeat business. Examples of personalization used to create a more convenient shopping process include avoiding targeting customers with promotions related to a product they already purchased, offering them faster checkout when information is already on file, and offering fitting advice based on previous orders.
Focusing on bringing value to the customer and improving their experience is critical. Again, if you leverage personalized marketing to allow customers to bypass fields in a form, discover products that are relevant to them, or get a discount on an item or service they were already considering purchasing, then you are making their lives easier. Doing so will help customers build confidence in your brand and grow your e-commerce business in the process.
Personalization is a beneficial tool that advertisers can use to enhance customers’ experience, and it shouldn’t be ignored because of privacy laws or abused despite them. Instead, advertisers should focus on compliance, transparency, and convenience in personalized marketing. Doing so will help businesses build their brand image and emerge as trustworthy organizations, which will allow them to develop healthy relationships with their customers along the way.
Thibaud Clément is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Loomly.