“What would happen if marketers embraced privacy as a value of the company?”

This was the question posed to me by Duane Schulz, principal of Schulz Advisors LLC. In a digital world where businesses are so focused on demand generation and revenue opportunities, marketers often view data privacy policies as yet another hurdle to jump through.

But instead of viewing privacy regulations as an imposition, what if marketers could shift the narrative and use data privacy as a core tenant of the brand’s value?

At MarTech East in September, Schulz will explore this topic in his session, Don’t Be Evil: A Framework for Lean Surveillance Marketing. He’ll discuss how marketing technology is contributing to users’ growing privacy and trust concerns while offering solutions on how marketers can shift to user-first trust and consent-based brand marketing.

In light of heightened privacy concerns, data breaches, and the launch of new data privacy legislature, consumers are more hyper-aware and protective of their data than ever before. Martech practitioners describe privacy and data management as a “compliance” matter, but only 36% of participants in the 2019 Martech Salary Survey said they were responsible for data privacy and compliance in their martech stack.

To pursue leads and revenue in a digital world, marketers are tracking behavior, targeting individuals, disrupting journeys, gathering data without implicit consent, and performing identity resolution through our martech stacks. But as consumers take more ownership over their data and privacy rights, these strategies won’t be sustainable forever. These days, we’re entering a digital landscape where privacy and trust will become the “new oil,” explained Schulz.

“One of the ways to start thinking differently is to consider the work marketers are doing from a brand perspective,” Schulz said. “We’re measuring MQLs and CPLs, but are we measuring the contribution we’re making to the brand value?”

If marketers are willing to advocate privacy and transparency as core principles of a user-first digital experience, then we can begin to shift the focus from short-term leads to lasting trust and long-term brand value.

Schulz proposes that marketers can start by developing a privacy-forward framework that the organization can uphold.

Establish core values

Schulz recommends starting with a set of beliefs and principles that places the visitor’s journey on a higher level than the marketers’. Organizations must recognize we’re “renting” our customers, not owning them, and that requires certain standards that must be understood across the organization. Schulz explained that marketers are perfectly positioned to propose a process or template that outlines the steps necessary to create a specific surveillance policy for the team and organization.

Consider a real-world approach

Build digital experiences that mirror the customer’s physical experience. This one can be challenging for many businesses, but Schulz offers a unique perspective: “Think about this way. If you were in, say, Target, and there was a person following you around visibly, writing down everything you did, then suddenly they jump in front of you with a sign that indicates what you should do next, how would you feel?”

If marketers start thinking about how a physical experience can be translated into a digital touchpoint, it would naturally foster more transparency and consent from the user. Rather than forcing a sale on someone, marketers should consider tactics that encourage organic engagement, which can be the catalyst for conversion.

Prioritize trust and consent

Marketers don’t always understand the tactical processes that go into tracking user activities on the web. By making efforts to uncover those processes used by our martech vendors, marketers can begin to understand how (and if) these methods comply with user privacy. “If marketers had narratives of what each tool did, they would step back,” Schulz said.

Content is king

“Content creates more value than digital interactions. Great content allows you to earn the data, instead of earning the data through trickery,” Schulz said.

Impactful content has the ability to resonate with customers on a deeper level than retargeting and personalization alone. By developing and sharing content that customers can extract value from, marketers can build a relationship grounded in trust and intentional engagement.

“At the end of the day, if a company is bought or sold, nobody fights over the MQLs or customer data points. They care about brand value,” Schulz said.

“When designing everything from blog content to Tweets, marketers need to be asking: are we practicing brand value?”

Don’t miss Duane Schulz’ session Don’t Be Evil: A Framework for Lean Surveillance Marketing at MarTech East in Boston, September 16-18.

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