An open letter to marketers on consumer respect

Last year was a year to remember for us all. From the newly implemented data privacy laws to the misuse of consumer data, 2018 was surely a year of consumer data education. The resulting congressional hearings with tech giants propelled the topics of trust and transparency to the forefront of marketers minds — as it should be.

The increasing lack of consumer trust in data transparency grew from the companies caught being careless with consumer data. In fact, 79% of global consumers are “frustrated that some companies can’t be trusted,” according to research from Accenture Strategy.

So, how did we let it get to this point?

Some marketers think only about how they can use customer data as a fast-track to business success. In the process, their communication with customers on how they care for and use that data is murky at best. This approach has proven to have quite the opposite outcome, with consumers placing more and more importance on transparency. According to a study by Label Insight, 94 % of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency, while 73% would pay more for a product that offers transparency.

The control is in your hands. By volunteering to be transparent rather than having lawmakers regulate something they’re only beginning to understand, you have the chance to win back the wary consumer. I know this because I’ve experienced it firsthand. Since founding Ogury back in 2014 — long before the four letters that marketers now fear (GDPR) was a mandated legislation — my business partner and I decided it was in the best interest of our business, and more importantly, the user, to ask for consent. And we’re glad we did.

Remember, you’re not in this alone. It’s time for marketers to avoid the legal headache of GDPR and get ahead of the transparency discussion. That means collaboration.

Consumers, publishers, and brands all demand transparency from their partners, but how much are you demanding transparency within your own organization? It starts with you. Encouraging your internal stakeholders to place greater importance on building quality consented data will set you up for business success in 2019 and beyond.

The more you encourage your partners to be transparent with how they use and manage data, the more confident you’ll be in their data quality and accuracy. A survey by Demandbase and Demand Metric found that four in five respondents are concerned their tech vendors could put them at risk of violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). That’s not a good place to be. Confidence results in trust. Trust leads to a greater likelihood of driving marketing performance for you and your partner, and of a long-term partnership.

You as a marketer should commit to ensuring that your company’s data is safe, anonymized, and being used to better customers’ overall online experience — and you should expect their internal and external stakeholders to adhere to that commitment, as well. Agencies, brands, media companies, and technology providers all have a part to play when it comes to privacy.

Now is the time to get ahead of transparency. There are countless benefits to your business when you are upfront with consumers on how their data is collected and used. The main benefit is that you can deliver more personalized recommendations, which in turn results in a better experience for your user. In fact, 71% of people prefer ads tailored to their interests.

It’s obvious, right? Providing transparency isn’t just about legal compliance. It’s a necessity for business success.

If 2018 was the year of consumer data education, 2019 should be the year of consumer respect. Providing this respect begins with complete transparency. When it comes to data, transparency is brought about through explicit, informed, and unambiguous user choice management; from opting in to exercising their right to be forgotten. Users have to give their consent for what data is collected, how this data is used, and by whom.

Looking ahead, it will only become more complicated as consumers become more connected. Not just with smartphones, but all technological innovations, including voice and IoT devices such as smart TVs. These smart devices result in smart consumers who demand and deserve your respect. Providing respect begins with providing transparency.

GDPR presents one framework for this data transparency, but you still need to ensure that you get ahead of the impending privacy laws in California and elsewhere by placing transparency as your number one business value and keeping it top-of-mind not just in marketing, but also across all your business operations.

Sincerely,

Thomas Pasquet, cofounder and US chief executive officer of Ogury

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