The Wild, Wild West Days of Data May Be Over, But Opportunities for Marketers Are Just Beginning
There have been many data privacy incidents over the past five years that have concerned consumers and caused headaches for brands, but the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal was unique in that it exposed the sheer volume of consumer data the social media leader and other web giants like it had accumulated. It also made consumers aware about the data they had unknowingly shared.
For years, enterprises have been pushing for more interactions, marketing leads, and clicks, but a significant shift is happening now. New regulations, recent missteps, and heightened awareness have customers demanding a more responsible, personal and private marketing and sales experience. It’s a watershed moment and companies are struggling to responsibly manage oceans of data. At the same time, they are beginning to realize they need to treat people not as 1s and 0s, but human beings.
This shift – among brands and consumers- represents a fundamental change in mindset and an end to the “Wild Wild West” days of data collection. With this shift comes new challenges and opportunities for senior marketers from a brand and leadership standpoint. Marketers focusing on just the checkboxes are missing the mark and opportunity to leap beyond compliance to a better customer opportunity. Below are the top considerations for marketers looking to seize the opportunity as we enter this new era of transparent, data-driven marketing.
Stewardship vs. Storage
Enterprises have a data hoarding problem, amassing mountains of customer and device data that’s often meaningless and not responsibly handled. Up until recently, marketing efforts were so focused on gathering as much data as possible that companies struggled with figuring out how to leverage it for real value once they had it. Now these same enterprises face a far bigger issue – the potential to violate a customer’s trust – by using data the consumer didn’t know was collected, storing data they don’t need, or worse, intentionally or non-intentionally sharing it with a third party. Once a prized possession for marketers, databases of customer data might contain a modern-day Trojan horse that destroys your brand credibility with one click. In this new paradigm, marketers must take ownership of data and ensure all team members act as stewards of customer information. It’s about responsibly delivering the right and remarkable customer experience at the very moment that matters.
Processes and Education
In order to protect customers, CMOs should ensure their teams understand what data can be collected, how it should be stored, the parameters for sharing and with whom. Processes must be put in place to protect customers and their brand, so no one is “trusting their gut” when a decision needs to be made on the fly. (Gone are the days of two cowboys pulling out their revolvers and yelling “Draw!”) Any request for data access or new customer acquisition should be met with clear action and communication. A sophisticated, educated marketing team is critical to ensure the proper consent is granted, the right data is collected and that secure storage and sharing protocols are in place.
A New Leadership Opportunity
As CMOs take on this new role of data steward and company educator, they also gain a new platform for leadership within their organization. Marketers that step up to the plate at this critical moment to advocate for customers and train their teams will find themselves with a seat the table with CEOs who are laser-focused on reducing churn and driving customer loyalty. This in turn will result in more cross-collaboration across the organization and create new connections for marketers professionally as their leadership profile grows. Where the explosion of MarTech has taken marketers further from the customer, marketers can bring them back front and center and this focus and transparency will pay dividends on a personal and career level. By seizing this opportunity, marketers will be providing significant value for their organization, performing at a high level, inspiring loyalty from their teams and becoming a stronger leader.
The increased focus on data collection and storage presents many opportunities for marketers and their teams, the last but not least being a return to customer-centric decision making and communications. Marketers that seize this perfect moment in time will find a stepping stone to future business, leadership and career growth. Further, the marketing teams focused on customer experiences rather than quick clicks and conversions will create the customers for life that drive the next million (or billion) dollars in revenue.