The word privacy has long held negative connotations for brands, with many steering clear of the concept in customer interactions at all costs. But GDPR coming into effect in May has brought privacy to the fore of global conversations, and savvy marketers are using this new legislation as a way to surprise and delight their audiences.
Marketers often collect more information than they could ever use, but GDPR forces them to be more intentional and transparent about how they collect and use customers’ information, translating into more meaningful customer interactions. The argument that data minimization (the idea that you collect only the data you need) inhibits personalized experiences is a myth. Rather than inhibiting brands’ ability to personalize, putting privacy (and data minimization) at the center of all customer experiences allows them to better surprise and delight consumers. This concept is what I refer to as experiential privacy.
What does experiential privacy look like for consumers?
Imagine you’re about to head on vacation so you download the mobile app for the hotel you’ll be staying at. The app informs you that if you sign in with your loyalty account and share your location, they’ll be able to better personalize your in-hotel experience even before you arrive, continuing through checkout. You accept based on the uses described and are reassured knowing that your data is only being used in ways that you’re comfortable with. As soon as your flight lands, you get a push message from the hotel app offering mobile check-in and help initiate a rideshare request from the airport to the hotel, saving you the effort of looking up the address. Arriving at the hotel, your mobile key is sent to your device, allowing you to reply to the staff at the front desk greeting you by name but can continue walking to the elevators. In the elevator, the app asks for permission to use your past dining purchases stored in your loyalty account to customize a room service dinner for you.
Experiential privacy is entirely based on consent and explicit explanation of intent, providing you as the consumer a sense of control, security and respect, all prior to the subsequent string of great experiences.
Here’s how marketers can deliver on experiential privacy with today’s increased focus on privacy by consumers and regulators.
Take stock of your data
Start auditing the data you collect to determine how much of that information is actually used. Are you missing out on opportunities to turn insights on your customers into highly personalized interactions, or are you gathering information on your customers that isn’t driving value? Consumer choice is vital as well. Ensure you have a record of all customers’ opting in, opting out or deleting their data. A critical eye regarding customer data will force you to deliver on your promise of personalized experiences optimized for the right people with the right content, times and channels to make sure you’re only gathering information for the purpose of improving the customer experience.
Weaving privacy into marketing strategy
Implement simple methods within your marketing strategy to use that customer data more effectively, derive better value for your business and ultimately make your consumers feel valued. For example, when it comes to audience management, you can deliver better customer experiences by matching consented online and offline data to specific customers to prevent the delivery of inconsistent messages, like serving up a coupon for a set of golf clubs to a customer via Instagram after they’ve just bought one.
For online experiences, build loyalty, trust and show respect for customers by asking for permission for individual preferences to ensure the right content is delivered at the right time so that every interaction adds value.
Lastly, for email marketing campaigns, avoid message fatigue by using consumer data as a strategic tool for personalized engagement and to provide relevant offers versus using the channel to promote generic sales messages. Take the customer who just bought golf clubs: serving them an email coupon for golf lessons instead is likely to be much more appreciated.
Sixty-five percent of companies believe GDPR has positively impacted their business, which shows how the perception of data privacy has dramatically shifted just a few short months since the regulation took effect. Brand marketers who can center data collection and management around delivering impactful experiences will earn their customers’ trust and increase the likelihood of turning these customers into advocates while avoiding risk in the process.