How to build trust with digital customers in a privacy-first age

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Advances in data integration technology mean brands have an unprecedented ability to better connect with consumers. However, it’s no surprise that consumers are prioritizing brands that can engage in a timely, relevant and meaningful way – while respecting their privacy preferences. About 75% of consumers are not comfortable buying from a brand with poor personal data ethics, according to a recent report.

Consumers are more knowledgeable and more informed about their privacy rights than ever before, and want to know that their data is protected. At the same time, they are willing to sign up for a better buying experience. This is privacy paradoxa term coined by Gartner, referring to the constant flux of consumers’ privacy concerns and their actual online behavior and desires.

Transparency about how customers’ data will be used creates a stronger foundation of trust, and will ultimately allow brands to have a more competitive edge now and in the future, according to the recent In Data We Trust e-guide. With the end of third-party cookies on the horizon, consent will be critical to how brands will form future relationships with customers.

Brands should start by defining a first-party data collection and management strategy that respects privacy preferences while maintaining the highest quality insights. Using only high-quality data is critical to creating rich, real-time portraits of your customers for optimal activation. Brands that can best integrate their customer data into an accurate, personalized and trusted view of the customer while recognizing consent across all channels will ensure better customer experiences that foster trust from the start.

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Out with third-party cookies, in with first-party data

Uncertainty about how a brand obtained your information can certainly raise eyebrows. The phase-out of third-party cookies presents a great opportunity for companies to switch to a first-party data strategy now and get opt-in from the start.

First-party data comes directly from your customers, which means it’s not only more accurate, but also more reliable. To make this transition, companies may need to transform their data collection processes and implement or update existing consent tools. At the same time, they must ensure that their first-party solutions comply with wider privacy regulations.

With data aggregated into one holistic view of the customer and accessible to other systems, brands will have a consent management solution that reflects the entire customer relationship and enables compatible, personalized activation across channels.

More data is not better data

Customer expectations for a personalized experience have pushed brands to integrate more complex data into their customer experience channels. However, with an influx of data comes the challenge of refining and optimizing it for best possible use.

Having a clean, accurate and high-quality data base is essential to creating conversions and achieving ROI. Your focus should be on bringing in just the right data to drive the customer experience. You do not need everyone the data, only the information that will be useful for your end goals.

Outlining what you need (including from a data management perspective) will help create clear customer profiles that you can target with activations and experiences that keep your audience around.

The key to engagement starts with the ability to act. If customers update their privacy preferences, brands should be prepared to meet them where they are with a content management solution that reflects this in real time. This can help to retain valuable management. Higher-quality data profiles, achievable with a centralized data framework that can receive information from a variety of channels, make targeting an at-risk customer with “in-the-moment” marketing easier and can reduce churn.

Going forward, to best connect with customers, brands will need an integrated, future-proof approach to respecting privacy preferences and regulations. Focusing on developing a robust first-party data strategy will provide the best path forward to align activations accurately and meaningfully. These initiatives build customer trust now and increase lifetime value and brand loyalty for the future.

Heidi Bullock is marketing manager at Tealium.

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