In today’s digital landscape, customers demand both personalisation and data privacy. In fact, 88 per cent of online shoppers in the UK say they would stop using brands and organisations that don’t value consumer data privacy. With third-party trackers phasing out and regulations like the UK’s Data Protection Act and GDPR in place, retailers are under immense pressure to navigate the complex terrain of e-privacy. They must swiftly adapt or face regulatory and consumer backlash.
This stands in stark contrast to the not-so-distant past when customers traversed the digital landscape, with third-party cookies quietly collecting data on their online movements. With all their online behaviour tracked, retailers could follow customers across the web. This enabled them to deliver customised ads.
While these days are now long gone, one thing hasn’t changed – customers still demand personalisation. Now, the onus is on retailers to find new ways to balance personalisation with privacy. This means shifting their focus towards privacy-centric strategies that respect customers’ data and preferences.
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Unpacking the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework
Earlier in July, the EU and U.S. agreed to a new Data Privacy Framework, which will allow businesses to transfer data from the EU to the U.S. in a secure and compliant way. This landmark data-sharing pact replaces a previous agreement called Privacy Shield.
For U.S. tech giants like Meta and Google, renowned for their expansive global data sharing practices, this new framework comes as a breath of fresh air. They can now bid adieu to the looming spectre of costly initiatives to process and store data locally or worse — withdrawing their business from the EU altogether. To enhance data security further, forward-thinking retailers are exploring the option of partnering with European-based providers to mitigate potential data transfer risks.
Nonetheless, the new agreement is already facing the threat of certain legal challenges. Many privacy activists are unhappy with the level of protection offered to European citizens. They argue that it doesn’t differ much from the Privacy Shield it replaced. The tug-of-war between tech giants and privacy advocates promises to be a riveting narrative in the unfolding saga of data privacy.
Empower Customers: Your Data, Your Rules
Customers are increasingly concerned about online privacy and security. So if retailers want to build trust with all of their customers, they must:
- Be transparent about data collection and usage.
- Provide customers with meaningful choices.
Investing in a preference-management experience can build both consumer trust and your first-party data. This includes implementing tools or systems that allow customers to opt out of specific communications or data sharing.
For example, by including communication preference boxes, customers can genuinely choose when and what they want to hear about from the company. The box could be displayed during the sign-up process and incorporated into advertising campaigns or website experiences, making it an additive interaction. This would be a great time to also add an incentive to pique your customers’ interest.
Unlocking Advertising Success: Consumer-Driven Strategies
However, the most effective way to advertise to consumers is by using first-party data. With first-party data, you can achieve higher match rates and future-proof your advertising efforts. This approach allows you to understand where your customers are engaged, so you can meet them where they are and deliver targeted advertisements.
Here are some strategies you can use:
- Site personalisation: Site personalisation asks users to allow companies to tailor their website’s content and ads to match their interests and preferences. You’ve probably seen this on a banner, offering two options: “Accept All Cookies” or “Reject All”. This method doesn’t feel like marketing. Consumers get a more relevant and customised experience, and retailers get better customer engagement and increased conversions.
- Connected TV advertising: This provides an opportunity for banner ads, promotions and other types of digital ads that don’t feel like traditional commercials. Connected TV advertising uses first-party data via hashed emails or phone numbers. Over the past few years, this has become a popular advertising method on devices like Roku, Apple TV and Samsung TV. Since customers are already watching TV, it feels organic.
- Paid media channels: Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc., can also effectively reach current and prospective customers. However, the most effective way to use these channels going forward is to use first-party data, which results in higher match rates and future-proofing benefits. Your existing customer data allows you to target consumers with relevant content that will increase organic interaction and make them less likely to view the ads as spam.
- Direct marketing channels: One of the most direct approaches is sending targeted ads with email and SMS. Offering incentives can encourage customers to sign up for these channels. But, if you constantly send messages to consumers, you’ll likely see them opt out rather quickly. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. Use past purchases or behaviours to tailor campaigns, and you’ll likely see improved engagement and retention.
Unify Customer Data to Ease Your Privacy Compliance Journey
Most companies don’t completely understand their customer data. Data collected across multiple digital and offline touchpoints – purchase history, email history, support tickets, loyalty programs, POS – becomes challenging to manage and activate when it’s siloed.
This siloed data can also cause retailers to treat customers as multiple people. This is particularly true for engaged customers who give you the most data. And the more data that’s collected, the higher the risk of dirty data, like misspelled names or duplicate records. This can lead to high-value customers receiving multiple irrelevant campaigns, resulting in a poor experience for them which creates a risk of unintentional customer churn and wasteful excess marketing costs.
This is where a unified data strategy comes into play.
A unified data strategy allows for more efficient and accurate data management. This includes suppressing customers who have opted out of communications and then being able to maintain the integrity of that information across all channels. By understanding the types of data, where it’s stored, and how it’s collected and used, retailers can make informed decisions and tailor their strategies to meet the unique needs of their customers.
An Intelligent Customer Data Platform (CDP) can help tremendously by providing a complete, unified database of all a brand’s customer data. An Intelligent CDP stitches together all of a brand’s disparate data sources, forms complete customer profiles and makes those profiles available for easy exploration in real-time. It also identifies unknown data elements and sources containing data which, otherwise, may have gone unreported.
This means that if a brand is asked to perform a data audit for an individual or a group of people, staff can rapidly pull together all the relevant information from a single, highly accessible system. In addition, an Intelligent CDP refreshes constantly as source data changes, populating the latest suppressions and unsubscribes across all relevant customer touch points. This further ensures consistent compliance with GDPR-related requests and activities.
While compliance is important, many retailers are concerned that complying with GDPR will compromise their ability to form deep and meaningful connections with customers. An Intelligent CDP can help you make the most of our customer data while complying with both the contractual and technical challenges posed by GDPR.
GDPR as a Catalyst for Smarter Data Management
For consumer brands, the relevance of GDPR goes beyond compliance. It’s about having the ability to continue using customer data for driving personalisation and top-line growth while being compliant.
The reality is, managing personal data is hard. It’s clunky and nobody can really govern the personal data across multiple data depositories without a platform like Amperity, which solves the problem at its core.