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This article was contributed by Jonathan Joseph, head of solutions and marketing at Ketch.

Consumer data privacy is hot regarding regulatory attention and rollout. In 2022, we anticipate modern privacy legislation in India and six states here in the U.S. In Europe, we see invigorated regulators taking actions against violators, such as that of the CNIL, which fined Google €150 million ($170.4 million USD) and Facebook €60 million ($68.2 million USD) for infringing Internet users’ freedom of consent. In the U.S., we’re seeing FTC rule-making and White House policy activity on AI and automated decision-making.

Meanwhile, consumer awareness of privacy is also on the rise, partly due to these new regulations, and partly due to the stories in the news media that detail Big Tech’s privacy shortcomings.

Rising consumer awareness of privacy is one reason chief marketing officers (CMOs) and marketing teams need to pay close attention to privacy initiatives. Typically, companies’ privacy initiatives involve cross-functional stakeholders, such as legal, technology, and digital teams. But given privacy’s effect on customer journeys, perspectives, and usage of customer data, it’s imperative that marketing teams have their voices heard in the rollout of organizational privacy initiatives. Privacy is a team sport, and for CMOs who have been warming up on the sidelines, it’s time to run onto the field.

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Consumers value their privacy

Consumer awareness of privacy is high, and it’s up there in the value system with sustainable supply chains and organic food. For brands seeking to align with the values of their consumers, trust, and transparency around how they treat their customers’ data are critical for building brand value.

Building trust and aligning with consumer awareness and a desire for privacy has a direct impact on revenue and growth. McKinsey, in a study on consumer data and privacy, observes that consumers are “voting with their feet” and walking away from doing business with companies whose data-privacy practices they don’t trust. The lack of trust from consumers on how companies are handling their data creates an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves by taking “deliberate, positive action” in messaging and positioning.

Articulating the value consumers will get in exchange for sharing their data is key. Furthermore, not collecting more data than you need is top of the list when building trust with consumers.

Customer experience

Brands spend vast amounts of time and resources carefully curating digital experiences for their prospects and customers, and lately, that experience is being marred by privacy banners and cookie pop-ups that lead to incomprehensible privacy statements. This isn’t serving anybody’s interest.

Marketing teams are charged with orchestrating positive and delightful customer experiences, and there’s an opportunity to influence the privacy effort as it intersects with the customer experience. The privacy experience can be an amazing opportunity to articulate a brand’s values and commitment to transparency. This includes a humanization of privacy, with careful consideration of the language used within policy. For example, “preference” or “choice” is preferable to “consent.” Strive for communications that an average person can connect with on the first read.

Importantly, do what you say you’re going to do. If a consumer expresses a privacy choice, ensure that stated preference is reflected in all relevant data systems. Doing so will boost the level of trust that person has in your brand, and may very well contribute to an increase in sales. According to Gartner, by 2023, “companies that earn and maintain digital trust with customers will see 30% more digital commerce profits than their competitors.”

Data-driven growth and privacy compliance are compatible

There’s nothing to say that marketers can’t build value and honor privacy values simultaneously. Data-driven growth and respect for data privacy are compatible goals.

For marketing teams, data-driven growth has come with ever-expanding marketing technology stacks. These tech stacks are coming under legal review with each new consumer privacy regulation. For example, with the rollout of GDPR, a third of companies surveyed said they had changed at least one marketing or advertising vendor. It’s imperative that marketing teams are involved as those decisions are made.

As we look forward to marketing processes with more AI and machine-driven decisioning, trust is emerging as a foundational component and flywheel for growth. Embedding trust through programmatic data practices in your data ecosystem future-proofs your business, and positions it for expansion into more markets. Per Gartner, organizations that instill digital trust will be able to participate in “50% more ecosystems to expand revenue generation opportunities.”

Privacy shouldn’t preclude a brand from using consumer data to grow. It only requires that brands use responsibly gathered data, reflecting the latest privacy choice by consumers. The challenge is one of execution: orchestrating consumer preferences across the marketing tech stack and ecosystem shouldn’t have to be difficult and manual. The industry solved manual processes in advertising with programmatic solutions, and as a result, ads can be bought and delivered in milliseconds. We need a similar approach to privacy.

Jonathan Joseph is head of solutions and marketing at Ketch.

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