Do's & Don'ts in the Privacy Era
By Donna Loyle
The rise of targeted marketing principles and the implementation of efficient data-collection and -sharing practices has been one of the driving forces of the American economy for the last several decades. Of that, no one is in dispute—not even government officials.
But the migration from mass marketing to direct marketing also has a down side. Some consumers, tired of having targeted offers thrust at them from all angles, are experiencing marketing fatigue. And they're starting to say: "Enough already!"
Add to the mix the alarming rise in identity theft, computer-clogging spam and telemarketing, and you have a scenario in which consumers are prone to demand legislative action—which is exactly what is happening today. And with politicians eager to show constituents that they feel their pain and are taking decisive action, passing stringent privacy laws that restrict direct marketing practices is a political no-brainer.
The problem, however, is that emotionally charged scenarios such as those engendered in the current-day privacy debates often lead to ineffective legislation. For example, some of the do-not-spam laws currently being bandied about in Congress very well may lead to a silencing of legitimate marketers, while illicit marketers will continue their scams and law evasion.
So where does this disturbing turn of events leave legitimate direct marketers? Even more broadly, where does it leave the whole concept of targeted marketing? Indeed, will the "privacy bubble" grow so large it chokes direct marketers' ability to devise well-targeted offers and deliver them effectively and efficiently? Can privacy and direct marketing co-exist?
Target Marketing asked several privacy and marketing experts for their thoughts on what direct marketers should be doing differently now and what they should absolutely not be doing anymore.
Focus on Trust
"It's all about the long-term relationships with customers," says Jim Koenig, co-head of privacy strategy and compliance practice for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and general counsel of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). "Frankly, it's always been about the long-term relationship with customers," he notes. "Privacy [invasion] is what we call it when it's done wrong—when we misuse a customer's trust. The skill and the competitive advantage now is on how marketing and privacy are balanced to give customers the trust and value they want."