5.16 billion people use the Internet daily. These activities produce a trail of data that must be safely processed, handled, and stored. But after an onslaught of breaches, scandals, and lawsuits, Internet users no longer trust how organizations deal with their data.
To combat this, users do what they can to protect themselves. This includes browsing in private mode, deploying ad blockers, or avoiding web presences they are unsure of. This is bad news for digital marketers since audience identifiers are created when people interact with ads, use public browsers, and interact with new web presences. Without these identifiers, 80% of the addressable market will quickly become unknown audiences.
These new developments limit the information digital marketing teams have. As a result, their ability to launch high-performing paid ads, conduct accurate targeting, develop lucrative paid search strategies, or craft audience-specific content is curtailed.
Browser updates also represent a challenge for marketers gathering data. For instance, Apple and Mozilla implemented browser updates that enhance consumer privacy and limit third- and first-party cookies. (Google will likely follow suit in 2024.) These updates make it more challenging for digital marketers to access and gather the data they rely on. What is the reasonable solution? Start demonstrating privacy and compliance in a way that bolsters user trust.
Of course, the stakes of privacy and compliance have never been higher. It starts with users: if they don’t trust your organization, you can expect a loss in revenue, reputation, and more. But if users have a reason for these suspicions—in other words, if there’s lawsuit material at hand—the authorities step in. For example, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (along with other legislative bodies) leverages substantial fines for privacy and compliance violations. Fines usually equal 20 million pounds or 4% of your firm’s worldwide annual revenue from the preceding financial year.
The implementation of regulations like the GDPR or CCPA protects consumers and keeps data safe. However, as different laws pass and new standards are set, organizations must navigate a maze of high-stakes, conflicting guidance. The shifting state of legislature surrounding privacy and compliance requires a nuanced, incremental approach.
Privacy and compliance for digital marketers require a two-pronged approach: building user trust and taking practical steps to comply with legal standards. Start by disclosing and explaining how data will be used—and that information will be deleted, modified, or altered if requested. In today’s tech climate, user expectations are rising as they demand transparency, privacy, and control over how their information is used. Once users trust you, they are more likely to share data, interact with your ads, and so forth.
For legal, ethical, and interpersonal reasons, it is crucial to implement a robust approach toward privacy and compliance in digital marketing. Here’s how to start.
Minimize the collection and use of personally identifiable information by distinguishing between zero-party data and first-party data. First-party data comes from user behavior in a browsing situation that provides clues about their intent and priorities. This approach generates insights—without capturing unnecessary personal data. Instead, it relies on making the most of the technical information at your disposal. When surveying data from a browsing session, this includes:
On the other hand, zero-party data comes directly from your audience. Filling out a contact form, signing up for an e-newsletter, or taking a survey all generate zero-party data since it’s offered voluntarily. This data gives marketers the opportunity to provide highly tailored messaging.
When you do end up acquiring data, focus on transparency. Make sure consumers stay well-informed on how your organization collects, uses, and stores data. It’s also important to remember that this data is subject to deletion upon request, per regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA.
Ensure these data collection processes are compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Prioritize data being stored securely, handled responsibly, and used only within the scope of consent given. Once data is responsibly stored, your organization must keep it safe—which requires an investment in robust cybersecurity measures. Start by prioritizing:
Privacy and compliance for digital marketers in 2023 requires balance: getting what you need to inform a solid marketing strategy while minimizing your acquisition of personal data. Start by pursuing tactics that focus on patterns and trends. When you do acquire data, focus on collaborative strategies, such as data clean rooms.
Remember to plan for conflicting imperatives from different legislative bodies. For instance, many laws require that you delete data when users request it. However, other guidelines require that you retain certain data for certain time periods. In these tricky situations, it is important to pursue legal advice, maintain flexibility, and prioritize compliance.
From a cybersecurity perspective, it is critical to remain aware of current threats and regularly monitor your organization’s systems. Refusing to trust piecemeal protocols is necessary for your organization’s long-term investment in privacy and compliance for your digital marketing teams.
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