As Cross-Channel Marketing Matures, Privacy Pitfalls Abound

patricktrippData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Patrick Tripp, senior product marketing manager at Adobe.

It’s easy to see why marketers would be enthusiastic about the ways data can be used to enrich the customer experience for both anonymous and authenticated users.

But it’s also just as easy to run into some serious data-usage issues that can result in jaded consumers who are suspicious of brands and their intentions.

Most digital marketers just want to provide their customers with the best possible cross-channel experiences they can offer, but to do that it’s important to avoid a barrage of stumbling blocks caused by mismanaging anonymous and authenticated consumer data across the customer life cycle.

Data Transparency

When deploying a cross-channel marketing campaign, we all know how important it is to reach the right customers with the right offers at the right time. This focus on personalization creates immense value for marketers seeking optimal engagement as long as they follow two basic rules. Otherwise marketers risk being perceived as creepy.

First, digital marketers should center most personalized experiences on first-party data that is captured by properties they own, such as email addresses submitted through a landing page or information given to a brand through a social media channel.

In contrast, second-party data is data acquired from a partner, and third-party data is information that is purchased or rented from an external provider. The further marketers get away from the direct connection between the brands they’re representing and the customers they’re marketing to, the creepier personalization efforts have the potential to become.

Second, marketing departments should establish a policy of transparency when communicating what they are doing with the collected data. Marketing transparency means letting customers know what type of data is being collecting, what marketers are doing with the information and how it will help brands provide a better customer experience.

Navigating Questionable Data

Tremendous value lies in a deep understanding of the three core types of data, but leveraging it correctly is crucial.

For example, let’s say a marketer proposes targeting a customer segment in an email campaign leveraging third-party cookie-based data, such as browsing behavior, to enrich the personalization. But using third-party data for an email campaign is not enriching the customer view – it’s corrupting it. Combining third-party data with personally identifiable information (PII) to deliver offers is a huge violation of consumer trust, and enterprises should have automated controls in place to prevent involuntary integration of these data types.

But just because certain data sets shouldn’t be combined, don’t throw so-called questionable data out with the bathwater. Third-party data is perfect for creating segments based on anonymous traces of individuals, and then syndicating those segments for use in other digital channels, such as display advertising. In other words, using anonymized segments helps target customers while respecting consumer privacy.

Tremendous value lies in a deep understanding of the three core types of data; marketers just have to take appropriate steps toward using each type in a responsible and ethical manner.

Data Responsibility

The customer creep-out factor is a result of data being used irresponsibly. At the end of the day, the primary objective should be to do the right thing with data and to be aware of when marketers are overstepping customer boundaries. Marketers should consider how their organizations manage the data they collect. In this context, doing the right thing means never combining third-party data with PII.

Another way to ensure a brand is doing the right thing is to give its customers outbound marketing-frequency options. Are brands letting their customers choose how often they receive emails, direct mail or text messages from the company?

Allowing customers to specify their channel preferences and contact frequency builds their confidence in the organization while letting them know brands have their best interests in mind.

Giving customers the power to decide when and how they want to hear from brands, while never using questionable data in objectionable ways is all about doing right by customers. The most successful digital marketers today never lose sight of their primary goal: to provide real and intrinsic value for every customer while delivering the best customer experiences possible.

Marketers must use the data they collect responsibly, maintain absolute transparency with their customers about the data they are collecting and put control in their customers’ hands. They’ll be doing the right thing for their customers and enriching the customer experience for both anonymous and authenticated users, while avoiding some of today’s most common privacy pitfalls in the process.

Follow Adobe (@AdobeDMP) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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