The desire for consumer data privacy and delivering effective marketing tactics can seem at odds with each other. Marketers rely heavily on tools that collect behavioral data from customers to craft marketing efforts, and people don’t always understand, or offer direct permission, for their data to be collected and used in undisclosed ways.

Except for popular social media sites like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn where terms of service outline data use, data privacy is still an evolving process. Consumers and marketers need to come to a compromise while factoring in the pace, and impact, of technology advancements on the shopping experience. Marketing tactics are just one small piece of the buyer’s journey evolution.

So, how can marketers take consumer consideration to the next level and build digital marketing best practices that allow a positive, personalized customer experience consumers have come to crave?

Rethink how to connect with customers in ways that allow for open communication and clarity, while creating a shopping experience that’s useful and engaging.

What Is GDPR and the Impact on Marketing Tactics?

As a starting point, brands need to take note of the recent General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) implemented in Europe. Even though the U.S. is not currently required to follow these guidelines for domestic customers, many brands do business worldwide and are already in the process of creating new data collection standards.

If you aren’t already familiar with new data privacy policies created in Europe, here’s a recap of recent events surrounding data privacy and marketing.

As of May 2018, according to the Digital Marketing Institute, “The GDPR was created by European governing bodies to ensure personal data for individuals is protected locally. It also has a set of guidelines about restricting personal data from being exported. The aim is to ensure citizens are protected and their data remains under their control to the extent that they are also granted the right to ‘erasure,’ or a withdrawal of consent.”

This article from the Kapost blog also offers a nice recap of the specifics, including the kinds of data collection affected and what digital marketing tools are impacted. For brands, the impact of GDPR on data collection can also be seen as an invitation to create deeper trust with the sales leads they nurture along the buyer’s journey. When customers see the efforts made to ensure their personal information is safe and secure, it sets a brand apart from the competition.

Taking the time to build stronger customer consideration also offers an opportunity for a business to set an industry standard that other B2B organizations will want to follow. With that, you’ll be in a position of leadership.

Fine Tune a New Customer Experience

Up until this point, the marketing industry has focused on how GDPR changes will impact the ways they maintain buyer confidence within a target audience using current toolsets and tactics.

The real goal for brands moving forward must be to focus on how to develop clear, permission-based ways of understanding—and fulfilling—customer needs on every level, including the quality of outreach content and tools. Owning this responsibility creates the opportunity for brands to make a new, more robust customer experience into a reality while staying current with customer preferences and concerns.

But how can marketers get started?

Here are some things brands can do to level-up their customer experience game:

1. Craft Trust and Transparency

There’s nothing more annoying than someone knocking on your door at home and asking you to take a survey without telling you why they need specific pieces of information. Online, that sentiment is no different. Email is the customer’s private doorway, and they have every right to know who’s there and what they want. So, tell customers the who, what, where, when, and why of your data collection practices. Better yet, share why and how that data will be leveraged in the big picture.

When customers understand the details, it’s much easier to get them on board and build trust in the brand relationship for further lead nurturing.

The company 23andMe does a great job of email outreach follow-up in their services and outlines how information will be used. They also offer an opportunity to submit results for inclusion in overall genetic research and send updated reports based on new research related to medical conditions at no charge.

These efforts are of value to the customer and permission-based, and such actions keep customers active in the sales pipeline.

2. Build First-party Relationships 

At this point in the evolution of marketing, the customer is the gatekeeper. For brands to gather active permission from customers takes transparency, strong tactics, and quality marketing tools.

While these may be thought of as costs, they really offer a gateway to something very powerful—building a more direct, one-on-one connection with them.

With detailed information and permission in tow through active consent, brands can then use data tools to figure out how to deliver unique value at scale for each customer and lead in the sales pipeline. A large part of that is pairing collecting data with crafting a more personalized, permission-based, customer experience online and off.

3. Outline Specifics of Data Collection 

Customer’s value clear policies that spell out their rights vs. a brands rights. So, actively create one.

Be upfront with customers about data details, including who gets to view and work with the data, then put it in writing. Also, let them know how long their data will be stored.

In short, provide good data stewardship throughout the customer relationship. It’s quickly shifting from nice-to-have policy to one that is expected as part of the customer experience.

4. Offer Customer Data Review Rights

As an active part of gathering all the necessary customer data—with permission, of course—it’s important to offer an easy option for customer data review. When customers see the data brands are using with their own eyes and can correct any misinformation, they feel they have a voice.

This is what makes a marketing connection into an actual customer relationship built on trust.

Taking time to reach out and build data privacy policies that honor the customer first can go a long way in earning loyalty long-term. To make the customer experience richer and more dynamic, lead with ways to honor data privacy that go beyond just what’s required, enhancing the customer relationship on various levels throughout the buyer’s journey.

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Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.