Trust First: CMOs Need To Master Data Privacy To Market Successfully

Sharon Harris CMO Jellyfish

​​"Data-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 Sharon Harris, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Jellyfish.

Data privacy is front and center in every digital technology conversation today. CMOs are now the stewards of the brand-consumer relationship and the gatekeepers of the trust that can make or break it. At the same time, today's CMO needs to drive revenue as businesses recuperate from an unprecedented year. 

Balancing these divergent challenges is an intricate dance requiring creative adroitness, data mastery and serious respect for consumer privacy. 

Customers, meanwhile, also have dueling needs. Studies show that most consumers seek a more personalized digital experience, while even higher numbers are deleting apps or search histories in response to privacy concerns

To super-serve customers while also keeping their trust, a CMO needs two vital elements in place: a privacy-first mindset and a fully engaged team within their organization.

Privacy, please

With consumers increasingly savvy about rights and responsibilities around their shared data, it's not enough to view privacy as an obstacle to be navigated or an obligatory procedural step. When a brand solicits data from a consumer, it's a significant ask that warrants assurances of responsibility and security around that consumer's information.

Privacy should be clearly communicated as a priority, including transparency around a brand's policies. No longer will a vaguely worded pop-up with the standard "accept or don't" verbiage suffice. What's at stake is a social contract of sorts, in which the brand agrees to consistently demonstrate integrity through clearly articulated intentions and actions that support them. When businesses don't follow through, it's not simply an annoyance; it's a break in trust that can end the relationship. 

So how can a CMO fortify that trust above and beyond simply being transparent? Through proactive communication. When marketing makes the critical shift away from selling features and benefits toward servicing consumer needs, it becomes clear that any privacy pledge must be visible, regardless of the communication channel. Clear, consumer-friendly language needs to visibly permeate all digital conversations.

Internally, it's also up to the CMO to communicate across teams. In terms of infrastructure, this means centralizing content management systems and integrating touch points along the purchase journey. If a customer opts for a newsletter, for example, but doesn't sign up for the loyalty program, a central data system needs to record and facilitate that. Reciprocally, when a customer sees a brand's system adapting in real time to their individual preferences, brand trust is strengthened. 

Being privacy-first also requires a CMO to find creative ways to provide personalized experiences in less intrusive ways. Companies may choose to remove outsource partners from the equation, replacing them with first-party data strategies.  

Or they can drill down to see which kinds of data are truly actionable, not just gathered for the sake of compiling data but for the purposes of studying and understanding buyer behavior.

By viewing increased privacy as an opportunity to build customer trust and engagement while flexing new creative opportunities, today's CMO delivers fresh ideas and safer targeting tactics. 

Internal buy-in

To ensure success, your data privacy development process requires critical feedback and alignment among every level and department in your organization. This is where the inherent creativity of the CMO enables them to lead. By sharing the reasoning behind a privacy-first approach with all internal stakeholders, each is able to understand how they are directly impacted by getting it right and how success depends on their collective buy-in. Most importantly, this communication should include both executive leadership and midlevel departments who may hang on to the outdated notion that data capture and policies fall solely under the purview of the technology team. 

But how to change that misperception? By speaking the language of each department in order to show that what’s best for the overall organization is also best for every interaction a consumer – or their data – has with their brand. In tightening up privacy policies, for example, marketers have an opportunity to pare down data that isn’t actionable so that their efforts are more targeted and impactful. Compliance executives can breathe a bit easier as well, since inactionable data becomes a liability that’s better off eliminated. When consumers sense that their experience is personalized without gathering unnecessary data, branding teams benefit from increased consumer trust. The cycle continues from there.  

With complete team commitment, what may have been seen as a chore can be repositioned as an opportunity. A CMO also has the space to work with project leads to test and adjust data privacy strategies, using the collaborative input of a fully engaged internal feedback loop. 

In approaching data privacy as both a customer service and a business imperative, brands can move beyond simply fulfilling an obligation and unlock completely new ways to engage with consumers. Combining fresh ideas with well-earned trust, a CMO can shape and foster long-lasting customer trust.

Follow Jellyfish (@JellyfishGlobal) and AdExchanger (@AdExchanger) on Twitter.

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