Do you remember the days when you couldn't target messages to customers in email campaigns, online advertising or tweets to your brand's followers? It hasn't been long since one-to-many mass marketing on TV, radio, print and other traditional media was the norm.
But with the rapid revolution in digital marketing, conversations between corporations and customers have increasingly become one-to-one exchanges. Why advertise via mass media when you can target customers on specialty websites or with targeted ads to customers who are most likely to be interested in your product? Why bombard existing customers with irrelevant messages when you can tap into the wealth of knowledge in your customer databases and offer products and services they want? This digital boon for marketing innovation offers a way to improve marketing ROI.
While they produce better results and ROI, digital marketing advances such as targeted ads, behavior tracking, analytics and hyper-customization have also raised a whole set of privacy-related issues. What rights do consumers relinquish when they agree to use your technology or service? How ready are companies to simultaneously use and protect customer data? The past several years have offered a steady stream of headlines warning users of possible incursions on privacy-location tracking by iPhones; hacked PlayStation accounts; and targeted advertising based on content in personal email communications or Facebook posts.
The marketing and IT industries face challenges on several fronts that threaten the fate of targeted marketing, including: pending government privacy legislation in the United States and abroad, consumer fear and backlash, and data security.
This can be a daunting task, but there are methods to deploying an airtight, all-encompassing policy. One method of breaking down complex privacy issues and ensuring customer privacy is protected involves implementing a code of conduct. In fact, the Web Analyst's Code of Ethics from the Web Analytics Association explicitly states a commitment to privacy, transparency, consumer control, education and accountability. The Code of Ethics includes:
- Privacy by design within your customer interactions and CRM systems.
- Consumer choice by allowing customers easy ways to opt in or opt out.
- Transparency in your policies so that customers know exactly what type of data you are collecting.
These tenets are necessary to ensure a company's commitment to online privacy best practices. Addressing each of these components speaks to the industry challenges noted above and will ensure that your organization avoids the privacy-debate ruckus.