Creating consumer peace-of-mind with all-encompassing data security

Personalised experiences are a much-needed aspect of customer communications today. Google research shows that nine-in-ten (90%) marketers believe that personalised strategies make a tangible impact on business profitability. However, tailoring communications to the needs of specific customers requires in-depth knowledge of their actions, wants and desires. This means leveraging potentially identifiable and sensitive data to create experiences that resonate with the end consumer.

Organisations across both the retail and travel sectors need to ensure that when such data is being used to deliver personalisation strategies to meet customer requirements, personal data is being handled responsibly. However, high-profile incidents such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal and data breaches taking place at Twitter have raised awareness among consumers how their personal data is collected and used. The implementation of GDPR has also shone a spotlight on how companies store and leverage consumer data. As trust in data protection wanes, how can organisations build the necessary confidence and ensure compliance with regulations?

Rising consumer awareness

The way that data is processed and consumed by organisations is increasingly entering the consciousness of consumers. Many are now taking action to protect their data privacy, such as by asking companies they deal with to disclose the information they have stored about them, or requesting that they be removed from mailing lists that aren’t relevant. Some are even threatening to boycott organisations that fail to protect their personal information or are slow to act when it comes to data deletion requests.

Any technology perceived to be privacy-invading by nature is now under close attention, with pressure from both consumers and regulators to be eradicated or altered to better protect people’s privacy. A prime example of this is third-party cookies. Once the go-to tracking solution for organisations and integrated on all major web browsers, this technology has now been fully removed from most applications. Google Chrome remains the only browser to utilise these cookies, but has intentions to remove them by 2024. With a cookie-free future almost a certainty, any organisation hoping to rely on such solutions will struggle to process relevant data in a way that meets consumer expectations and use it for personalisation strategies.

As the consumer landscape continues to evolve rapidly, organisations that fail to take steps to tighten up their data processing practices risk losing business from customers that expect more. However, any strategy to improve data protection and privacy strategy will struggle to gain traction from the very beginning if internal processes aren’t fully optimised. A common challenge is the numerous data sources that organisations need to manage in their marketing activities, making it an almost impossible task to keep tabs on every single element of sensitive data. Employees can also disagree on how to move the strategy forward, which threatens the application of best practice.

Being responsible with consumer data

So that organisations can keep tabs on all their data sources, a customer data platform (CDP) can assure comprehensive security when processing sensitive information and encouraging personalised actions. For example, local laws can apply depending on where sensitive information is chosen to be stored. This is therefore a key consideration when choosing which country or region in which data resides.

Where European organisations need to adhere to GDPR regulations, the US also follows its own laws that businesses must align with if they have operations there. The AICPA for example upholds regulations on how businesses should manage the privacy, security, availability, confidentiality and processing integrity of customer data. Enterprise-grade CDPs can ensure that SOC2 compliance is delivered, enabling organisations to meet AICPA standards, alongside other laws such as CCPA and PECR. Technology brought in should operate with everyone’s privacy at front-of-mind, giving businesses the opportunity to commit to protecting individual data rights.

Navigating a world without cookies

Technology can provide the foundation for best practice processing and storage of personal data, enabling businesses to win the trust of customers. However, the next hurdle that needs to be overcome is the adoption of personalisation strategies while keeping compliant with regulations. Businesses that attempt to rely on third-party cookies will ultimately fail to effectively identify the people visiting their website, leading to an ineffective user experience.

The answer is to utilise a one-of-a-kind privacy solution which is both able to identify a user within the restrictions of a cookie-less browser and also share these identities with authorised services where applicable. Businesses are able to avoid using cookies at any stage of the tracking process during a session. Third-party services are however fully able to leverage insightful data with no disruption.

This technology means that the work undertaken by marketing teams, who may have invested significant sums in bringing in potential leads and driving conversions from potential customers, is not wasted. It’s then as simple as leveraging a single interface to manage the different access levels to each service. Any consent or right to be forgotten requests can be actioned quickly and easily.

With insightful customer data driving decision making, businesses are best placed to combine this information with multi-channel and automated personalised actions. There are a variety of ways that this can be facilitated, but some of the most common offerings include consistent buying experiences to ensure repeat purchases from loyal customers, product suggestions driven by the specific purchasing activity of a select user, or delivered content that is closely related to the search query of a user. 

Adapting to an evolving landscape

Data security and privacy is only going to move into the consumer spotlight more over the next few years. Concerns continue to grow for consumers who hand over their personal data to the businesses they interact with and purchase goods from. At the same time, data regulations are becoming stricter and fines are becoming more severe. Third-party cookies are also set to become a technology of the past. All of these trends don’t need to be a detriment to personalisation strategies, however. An enterprise-grade CDP gives businesses all the tools they need to drive consumer insight in a fair, transparent and compliant way while providing customised experiences.

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Andy McNab, now VP EMEA in Fanplayr, is an adtech veteran. He spent over six years at renowned adtech company Rocket Fuel, ending up as VP and Managing Director. In a career spanning over two decades, he worked at companies including AOL, MSN and Centro.

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