As companies continue to turn to social media as a reliable source of lead generation, concerns regarding privacy issues show no signs of slowing.

4 mins read

The issue of privacy doesn’t often cross our minds as we scroll through our Instagram feed, or check out the latest trending topic. But the fact is it’s very much a hot topic right now. Even though we may not have made the conscious decision to do so, the majority of us have opened ourselves up to potential data issues simply by sharing a post on a social media platform.

But there’s no need to worry, since stricter regulations on the use of private data online are expected to come into force in 2021. Now, while that may be great news in terms of personal data protection, it’s set to have a big impact on the digital marketing sector as a result of further limitations on access to customer data.

Think outside the box

The role of a marketing team is to gather information about their target audience and come up with the best possible ways to reach them. However, with privacy policies and data protection restrictions growing by the day, it seems that industry professionals will most likely have to come up with new working methods if they are to survive this so-called privacy war.

For one thing, it will almost definitely spell the end of mass marketing since companies will be forced to earn the contact information of potential clients instead of automatically assuming authority over their inbox.

Keep your ears open

Target audience research will undoubtedly take on a whole new meaning. Social listening is just one tool companies are increasingly leveraging in order to avert data privacy issues and to appear more transparent to their potential customers. The process essentially involves analyzing conversations and trends related to your industry as a whole.

Although it may sound quite simplistic, it’s a method that’s already being put to use by companies across the globe as a means of conducting cost-effective market research without the data privacy headache.

The personal care brand, Dove, serves as one of the best examples of just how powerful social listening can be. The data used as basis for their #SpeakBeautiful campaign, which boosted their sales by 63%, was collected solely from monitoring trends across various social media platforms.

It’s all about trust

That said, there are occasions when marketing professionals need to scratch a little below the surface in order to meet their targets. But how can this be achieved with so little wiggle room in terms of data privacy? What it essentially comes down to is giving customers the control over how companies view and use their data.

This is particularly clear when we take a look at the reaction of Facebook users to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. For example, a study conducted by Pew Research Center found that over half of adult Facebook users in the U.S. (54%) adjusted their privacy settings in the 12 months that followed this event.

Headline scandals such as this one means customers are unlikely to automatically put their complete trust in any brand. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want personalized products, just that companies are going to have to work a little harder in order to get there.

Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint

For companies, this means the path to that customer’s email inbox is likely to get that little bit longer. But that doesn’t mean that it’s off the menu altogether.

The best way companies can go about this is to provide their customers with access to personalized privacy levels that work for them. It’s likely that, as a relationship of trust is built up over a period of time, these so-called barriers will begin to come down and clients will be more likely to loosen their privacy settings.

This gives both parties the best of both worlds, with customers left feeling secure without companies having to sacrifice personalized marketing strategies.

Openness influences your success

No matter what happens in terms of privacy regulation, what is abundantly clear is that transparency is set to play a vital role in terms of the future of the marketing industry. However, it’s important that the way in which your companies choose to demonstrate this fits with their organizational goals.

If, for example, your company has experienced issues with transparency or data breaches in the past, then it’s important to incorporate straightforward messaging on how they’re working to improve this into the marketing strategy.

The credit bureau Experian is a great example of just how effective this kind of messaging can be. Like many of their competitors, the UK-based company was badly affected by the Equifax data breach and consequently stepped up their marketing transparency content on their website.

Although consumers may be more conscious of data security issues these days, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re unwilling to provide information. It’s all about providing them with the assurance they need to take that step.

The way forward

There’s no doubt that there may be a few hills (or even mountains) to climb for marketing professionals in the near future. That said, customer’s demands for personalized product marketing is most certainly here to stay. It’s all about adapting to new strategies that respect privacy and inspire trust, and most importantly of all, having that little extra patience.