The pandemic created an unprecedented shopping environment in 2020, and as customer journeys have continued to evolve, businesses have had to shift their marketing strategy accordingly.
Prior to the pandemic, marketers of all stripes were focused on hyper-personalization, the ability to deliver tailored customer experiences (CX) reminiscent of those being pioneered by leaders like Amazon and Netflix.
While creating more personalized and meaningful brand experiences will remain key in 2021, honoring consumer privacy is paramount. The first step is to structure your marketing strategies in a way that prioritizes consumer privacy and consent.
CX is highly impacted by trust. Tamper with privacy and risk losing customers, considering that 87% will take their business elsewhere if they don’t trust a company is handling their data responsibly.
The next step is to know more about the consumers you’re marketing to: what are their buying habits, what time of day do they shop, what journey are they on. You will want to know who, when, and how your prospects and customers are shopping.
To do that, we need to understand consumer behavior and tap that behavioral data to power our marketing. Afterall, the formula for great CX is one that engages consumers at the right time, with a relevant message, while always respecting their privacy.
The key to providing a hyper-personalized digital experience is to understand the individual customer’s buying journey. Leveraging data can help marketers gain insight into a consumer’s recent shopping behavior.
Forms and cookies are well-known tools, but marketers should also consider third-party behavioral data, which reveals near real-time shopping activity outside of their organization’s purview.
With behavioral data, marketers can use page views, email sign-ups, sites visited, time spent on site, and more to deliver tailored messaging that reflects where a consumer is in the buying process and also help identify trends that indicate individuals who are most likely to complete a purchase.
Acquiring a deep understanding of the customer journey will become increasingly important as we continue to navigate circumstances driven by the pandemic. In some cases, Jornaya’s network of comparison-shopping sites has revealed dramatic changes in year-over-year consumer trends.
A prime example can be found in the home insurance industry: When comparing the first two weeks of activity in May 2020 to the first two weeks of May 2019, Jornaya saw a 200% increase in the number of online shoppers searching for home insurance and a 191% increase in related shopping activity.
More consumers shopping more frequently for home insurance could coincide with the mortgage industry’s low-rate environment during the pandemic. But how do you identify who is seriously shopping versus those who are casually window shopping while they’re stuck inside?
While data offers a level of transparency into the customer journey beneficial to marketers, it should not be taken lightly. Protecting consumer data should be among every marketer’s highest priorities.
Not only can marketers face significant penalties for not complying with privacy regulations, studies have shown that consumers are becoming more concerned with how their data is being used and will take their business elsewhere if they feel a company isn’t handling it responsibly.
As the use of consumer data in marketing becomes more and more commonplace, additional privacy regulations are sure to follow. In 2018, the European Union enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which protects the personal data of individuals living in the EU.
Going back a little further there is The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which is in the process of getting an update to its language, defining what constitutes an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS).
In July, California officially began enforcing the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and in November, Californians passed Proposition 24, which is also known as the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement and expands upon the CCPA. Proposition 24 will make it more difficult for marketers to use third-party data to target audiences based on their online behavior.
Although California is the first state to implement such strict protections, the state’s actions have drawn attention to the issue of data privacy across the country. There are 30 states proposing similar regulations, and many experts are expecting increased emphasis on privacy as under a Biden Administration.
Recently President-elect Biden noted that the United States should be “setting standards, not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy.” Whether Biden and congress will enact federal privacy regulation or leave it up to the states, marketers should be ready to keep up with significant changes.
The ultimate challenge for 2021, in this post-pandemic world, will be delivering the personalized experiences consumers have come to expect while maintaining compliance with current and future privacy regulation. It remains true that leveraging behavioral data is the best way to deliver on said experiences, this strategy could be rendered useless if not done with care.
One way marketers can quickly adjust is by partnering with a behavioral data and intelligence provider that takes data privacy seriously themselves.
With the right partner, marketers gain an unmatched level of understanding into the customer journey—sometimes at the individual level —while ensuring that the data they’re relying on is collected safely.
Both marketing and technology leaders must be aware of how they are compiling their data and being willing to share their data privacy policies with consumers.
As we look to 2021 and beyond, one thing that will remain a constant is that CX and consumer privacy will need to be at the center of every marketing initiative. In the short term, marketers can ensure they’re staying ahead of the curve by leveraging behavioral data and selecting technology vendors that share their commitment to protecting consumer privacy.
Rich Smith is CMO of Jornaya, a leading behavioral data intelligence company that helps companies attract and retain customers using a proprietary network of more than 35,000 comparison shopping and lead generation sites.
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