What Marketers Need To Know About Privacy Regulations

by The Creative Alliance

Woman using smartphone with icon graphic cyber security network of connected devices and personal data information

It’s Marketing 101: To succeed, you must obtain and maintain as much information as possible about your customers and prospective customers. That way, you can tailor your marketing outreach to their wants, needs, and demographics and increase sales.

With that as the goal—and the effort and expense required to achieve it—it’s easy to understand why companies historically came to view customer data as their asset. But events in recent years have forced businesses to see personal information differently.

Specifically, consumers are demanding more say in how their data is collected, used, and managed. Legislators are granting them that right in laws like the California Privacy Rights Act. It went into effect on January 1, 2023, and adds to protections in the state’s first-in-the-nation 2018 legislation that gives people more access to and control of their collected personal information.

And California isn’t alone. Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, and Utah have new privacy laws, and other states are sure to follow. Efforts are also underway to enact federal privacy legislation like the American Data Privacy and Protection Act.

Getting a Handle on Data Privacy Regulations

Most people today would agree that an individual’s name, purchase history, internet browsing habits, etc., is information that belongs to them. However, that new perspective will require marketers to modify their tactics to avoid actions like the fine imposed on beauty product company Sephora for sharing information with third-party advertising networks and analytics providers.

But will this change in how customer data must be protected be devastating to marketing professionals and their efforts? No, not at all.

New privacy regulations will require a significant culture shift for in-house marketing teams, marketing agencies, and anyone who seeks to engage with consumers. But that’s nothing new. Marketers are agile by nature. They have to be to keep up with continually evolving market preferences, new marketing-related technology and tactics, etc.

The key to adapting will be taking the time necessary to review and digest the privacy laws that affect you and your customers. Once you have a handle on them, you can modify existing strategies and develop new ones within that framework.

And, of course, if you work with a marketing and UX (user experience) agency like The Creative Alliance, you’ll have our assistance in understanding how to manage customer data effectively while adhering to relevant rules and regulations.

Attracting and Retaining Customers by Providing a Positive Privacy Experience

Studies have shown that nearly 50% of consumers will leave their favorite brand for their second favorite if the former doesn’t provide a positive privacy experience.

That’s a sobering fact—but it also points to an important opportunity. Companies that have and promote strong data protection policies and practices will earn the trust of prospective customers and the loyalty of existing ones.

Privacy Policies: What Consumers Want From Companies

Developing a positive data management user experience isn’t difficult. The expectations American consumers are expressing in the countless surveys being conducted on this issue are fairly straightforward.

They want companies to do the following:

  • Create and maintain a clear, concise privacy policy written in plain English.
  • Implement privacy tools that enable people to change their cookie preferences.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe from email marketing lists.
  • Ask permission to personalize a website experience.
  • Use state-of-the-art security measures to prevent unauthorized data access.
  • Remind them periodically about their privacy settings and how to modify them.

None of these requires an unreasonable amount of time, effort, or money. The investment is more about the ongoing awareness of privacy concerns and the willingness to interact with an audience differently in light of them.

And this awareness must be companywide. It’s not just marketing that engages with customers and prospects. Sales, customer service, and other departments often interact with a company’s audience. So, everyone must be educated about data privacy and expected to comply with applicable laws and company policies.

Marketing and Data Privacy Trends

Although it’s an oxymoron, the data protection genie is now out of the bottle! Not only does that mean that companies must change how they collect and manage data today, but they must also closely follow the ongoing evolution of data privacy regulations and expectations.

Changes in this area aren’t a “one-and-done” situation. For the foreseeable future, data privacy compliance will be a bit of a moving target. Again, this doesn’t have to hobble a company’s marketing and sales efforts or hurt its performance.

Adhering to privacy laws starts with anticipating them. And steps for anticipating them can be as simple as setting up a few Google Alerts (with phrases like “data privacy,” “marketing privacy,” and “consumer data protection,” etc.), following marketing trade associations, and engaging with a marketing agency that understands data privacy.

Reaching Consumers Who Want To Be Reached

Yes, there are new data privacy challenges that companies must wrestle with. But ultimately, empowering consumers to determine how their personal information is used benefits them and the businesses trying to reach them.

While the pool of prospective customers will likely shrink, those who remain will be people who are happy to hear from a company and see its ads. As a result, businesses will spend less time chasing unproductive leads and more time interacting with promising prospects. This should make everyone from executives to marketing teams and sales reps happy!

Eliminating the Unknowns

It’s true that we tend to fear what we don’t understand. That certainly applies to unknowns like how new data privacy laws will affect our businesses.

You can address these uncertainties by diving into them headfirst. Doing some research and documenting your findings in a data privacy policy (or enhancing an existing one) will give everyone in your organization greater peace of mind about what’s ahead.

We’re happy to provide guidance as you look to modify your marketing strategies.

Contact The Creative Alliance today!