Data is gold in the digital marketing landscape. But as privacy laws rise, the need to adapt to new ways of collecting and dealing with data becomes more pressing.

Digital Marketing And Privacy: A Guide To Handle The Topic With Excellence

We can all agree that the rise of the internet has made it easier for brands and consumers to interact. 

What used to take tons of effort to reach your target market can now be done in minutes or even seconds. In turn, this allows companies to grow more quickly and reach new heights faster than ever before.

However, along with immediate access to information day or night comes an increasing reliance on tech. 

This is why so many people are concerned about personal privacy and the overall access companies have to this information.

So, how do companies that rely on digital marketing , online advertising, and campaign tracking data still comply with general consumer data protection laws?

Keep reading to learn more about the balance between digital marketing and privacy , including how your business can find a way to balance the two gracefully.

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    What Is Privacy In The Digital World?

    Before we can jump right into how businesses need to protect consumer privacy, we first need to discuss what that means in terms of information.

    On a basic level, privacy is the right of consumers to determine how their personal information is used by third-party organizations.

    Personal information includes, but is not limited to:

    • Personal Contact Information
      Name, Address, Phone Number, Email Address.
    • Identifiable Details
      Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Driver’s License Number, IP Address.
    • Financial Information
      Credit Card Numbers, Bank Account Numbers.
    • Usage Details
      Tracking on Websites, Cookies, Prior Visits.

    And while this is a simplified list of the different elements included in digital privacy, it offers a pretty good idea of the types of data that your company is probably already using in some form or another for marketing analytics .

    This brings us to another question… How is your brand ensuring digital privacy for customers, leads, and website visitors?

    Awareness of the importance of data privacy laws

    As more people become concerned that digital marketers are using personal information in an improper way, laws and regulations concerning the use of this type of consumer data are becoming more commonplace. 

    This means that more online advertisers need to be aware of what they can and cannot do in terms of personal privacy.

    More specifically, there are two major pieces of legislation that you need to consider: 

    The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    And the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

    Both of these guidelines regulate how entities collect information and give individuals the right to opt out at any time.

    They were also the first to regulate how website owners handle visitors from specific locations, such as the entire European Union or the State of California. 

    As you can imagine, you never know when someone from one of these areas is going to visit your website, which is why these laws made it important for everyone across the board to comply with them in some fashion, which was a major game-changer.

    But these aren’t the only two that are out there. 

    As more consumers become concerned about how their information is being used, local and international laws are starting to pop up. 

    This is why it is always important to understand what’s new in data privacy. 

    By keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, you’ll be able to adapt your company’s methodologies accordingly.

    Can Digital Marketing Coexist With Data Privacy?

    Of course, all of these new regulations really put limits on how digital marketers are able to use information to create a personalized experience for shoppers and customers. 

    It’s no wonder that Gartner predicted that 80% of marketers will abandon personalization efforts by 2025.

    Where it was once commonplace to track target leads through an entire sales journey, certain elements of the process are now starting to evolve to remain in line with certain global privacy restrictions.

    Let’s look at Apple as an example. 

    Starting with iOS 14.5, users must opt in to share their unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) with apps. 

    This means that if any iPhone or iPad users chose not to do this, their digital tracking information is not shared with advertisers. 

    In turn, platforms like Instagram and Facebook that rely on this data for their advertising platform analytics could be out a ton of money. 

    At the same time, small brands that use their services for ads won’t receive a clear picture of how well their campaigns are working.

    A popup on an iPhone or iPad asking if users want the Facebook app to track their activities.
    Source: Wired

    And this is just one prime example of the pull between the digital marketing industry and data privacy regulations. 

    While Apple wants to keep their customer base happy — those who purchase new phones and tablets —, other advertisers are finding themselves at a direct disadvantage.

    Furthermore, search giant Google just announced that they’re putting an end to third-party cookies in their Chrome browser by the end of 2023. 

    This means that it is going to be more difficult than ever for brands to accurately track users via the current methodologies.

    Collecting first-party data: the checklist you need in a cookieless world.

    The limits of digital marketing

    All of these big changes equate to one thing: the overall evolution of marketing to the individual and a greater reliance on substance. 

    Simply put, the limits of digital marketing are going to have to go from relying on data and tracking to a better overall message that resonates with many as a whole.

    Where it was once easy to segment content to very specific groups, we are sliding backward to an advertising era where creatives have to have a wider focus. 

    Not sure what we mean? Think back to car commercials or billboards before the start of the internet. 

    These campaigns had to focus on reaching a wider audience as a whole to be successful.

    However, the exact implications of these types of changes really still remain to be seen. And it will largely depend on whether Apple and Google’s decisions lead other platforms to make similar moves.

    Digital Marketing And Privacy: How Can Marketers Adapt?

    Now that we’ve talked about what digital privacy is and how jurisdictions, device manufacturers, and marketing platforms are changing, it is important to look at how advertisers can adapt.

    While there are multiple ways to make this happen, it all starts with marketers realizing that the days of an abundance of personal data are long over. 

    Having the ability to track every move of your target audience is over and what’s left is diminishing quickly, so it is better to have a plan for moving forward.

    According to Google, the best method for balancing data-driven marketing and privacy protection is to:

    • Collect data responsibly.
    • Be resourceful with how you reach audiences
    • Hire and train for privacy. 

    But what does this all mean?

    1. Adopt a better focus on quality content

    Up until now, the major focus of marketers has really been matching content to specific metrics

    This is where switching to a better focus on quality content is truly paramount.

    Instead of just trying to meet the messaging for a lot of smaller demographics, you need to have ads and creative media that meet the needs of many, all at one time. 

    By doing this, you’ll be able to adapt to a “messaging for many” approach.

    2. Increase ad and communication frequency

    Again, the evolution of digital marketing and privacy is going to make it necessary to adapt to different circumstances. 

    Instead of relying on a knockout message that gets to the heart of your target customer right away, it is important to increase ad and communication frequency for a more well-rounded approach.

    For example, instead of showing one ad multiple times, you might need to switch to several ads with varying angles. 

    You might also have to increase the number of times you connect with an audience to increase brand recognition.

    While the exact details of how this will best work remain to be seen, it is definitely an important element to remember.

    3. Embrace integrated brand metrics

    In order to survive these changes and prepare for what happens in the future, it is important to fine-tune your integrated brand metrics. 

    What does this mean?

    It means making sure you’re looking at campaign effectiveness at a macro level instead of a micro level. 

    Basically, you stop focusing on whether individual campaigns worked or not, and start to consistently evaluate all aspects of your marketing, such as:

    The more you can look at the bigger picture, the easier it will be to improve your overall message at a high level.

    4. Include transparency and compliance in your methodology

    As we saw after the adoption of the GDPR, it is incredibly important to include transparency and compliance in your methodology of capturing personal data. 

    While this may not always be your call, like with Apple and Facebook ads, there are certain elements on your website that you do have control over.

    For example, make sure your privacy policies and other guidelines are clearly accessible on your website. 

    And give plenty of opportunities for users to opt in or out of specific things, like email campaigns.

    The more clear you are on these practices, the less likely you are to face a complaint or monetary fine down the road.

    5. Switch to gated offers

    Instead of relying on specific individuals to opt in to generic data sharing, give them something of value in return. 

    This is a process known as providing a gated offer.

    Imagine this: let’s say you’re wanting to gain insight on customer satisfaction after a website visitor makes an online purchase or books an appointment. 

    When the process is done, send them a survey asking for specific information. 

    In exchange for their time and honest answers, they’ll receive a coupon code for a discount on their next purchase.

    This type of offer puts the approval in the hands of the customer.

    They don’t have to opt in for sharing the data though — they can click a checkbox giving them the opportunity to opt out or they can skip the whole offer altogether.

    The key here is that this offer provides the ability of choice when it comes to participating in marketing activities.

    The Future Of Digital Marketing And Privacy

    While digital advertising is changing from what it has been over the last few years, it is important to remember that consumer behavior as a whole has not changed all that much. 

    People still buy things that fulfill a need or engaged with brands that they trust. 

    This means it is time to start thinking back to the so-called old days of advertising. 

    Instead of relying on analytics for all of your marketing decisions , it is time to look at your audience and find ways to resonate with them more effectively.

    So, what should advertisers anticipate for the future of digital marketing and privacy? Here are a few of our projections.

    More choice given to the consumer

    This might seem pretty obvious, but when it comes to personal privacy there is going to be a heavier focus on more choice given to the consumer. 

    This means that brands need to be ready to have plenty of opt-in and out points to make users feel comfortable with the whole process of data collection.

    Likewise, it is a good idea to be prepared for future legislation that mandates all of this. 

    As more jurisdictions start to adopt protocols like GDPR and others, you’ll need to ensure your website and marketing channels are already ready to adapt when necessary.

    Macro metrics vs. micro metrics

    As we previously mentioned, the opportunity to utilize micro metrics from very specific targeted audiences and data analytics is coming to an end. 

    This means looking at consumer data from a more macro or high-level approach than more granularly.

    Why does this make sense? 

    As the reduction in access to specific data declines, it is better to look at the overall behavioral actions of users as a whole. 

    When you can come up with links between groups as a whole over individuals, you’re no longer viewing metrics as individuals, but more as bigger audiences.

    Increased reliance on transparency

    As more jurisdictions start to adopt regulations on data privacy, it is expected that there will be an increased reliance on overall process transparency. 

    This means marketers should be ready to give individuals a peek behind the curtain and clearly explain how certain types of information are used.

    For marketers that are in highly competitive niches, this can be both a blessing and a curse. 

    It does make it easier for other firms in your industry to see what you’re doing in terms of digital advertising, but it also gives you the edge of viewing their methods, too.

    In the end, this is about the consumer, though. So, be prepared for changes requiring more overall transparency.

    Less selling of digital data to third-parties

    Consumers know when they’re interacting with a specific brand and usually approve of the same brand using their information accordingly. 

    What they don’t like, however, is when that information is given to a third-party.

    That’s why marketers should anticipate less selling of digital data to third-parties in the future.

    And, if this does occur, there will likely be a special opt-in process that allows users to clearly understand how their information is being sold and where it is being used.

    More use of AI and behavioral activities

    The good news about all of this is technology is evolving to meet demand. 

    As Google gets away from cookies, there are other options coming along to give advertisers similar data sets to work with.

    In fact, a lot of the newer tools coming out for data-driven marketing involve specific versions of artificial intelligence (AI) to review customer behavior in a far more efficient manner. 

    The end result? Better data analytics than we’ve been using in the past.

    Wrap Up: Everything Changes (But Everything Stays The Same)

    This is the most important aspect to consider when it comes to the future of digital marketing and privacy.

    While advertisers have to adjust to new privacy laws and data collection practices, the bigger elements of human nature and consumerism still remain the same. 

    Just striking the balance between the two is the most important factor for success.

    One way to do this? 

    With modern data-driven marketing based on the overall needs of your audience. 

    To help you understand how this all works, you can read our blog post about the different types of data and how you can use them to your advantage.

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