The world of business depends on data, and this is especially true in digital marketing and online advertising. However, in recent years, legislators have passed data privacy laws that significantly impact how companies can collect and use third-party data.
Data privacy laws give consumers the right to control how companies use their personal information. Because of these data privacy changes, businesses must ensure they respect consumer choices while still maximizing the benefits of any shared data.
This article will walk you through four ways to adapt to new data privacy laws that impact businesses worldwide.
What Data Privacy Changes Should You Be Aware Of?
Data protection and privacy have changed dramatically in recent years. Although concerns about online data privacy date back to the early days of the internet, the emergence of big data prompted more public discussions of the issue. In 2016, a set of data privacy regulations called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was proposed to the European Union. The GDPR was subsequently passed in 2018, and organizations and websites were required to notify users of data collection and that they had to give explicit consent for their data to be used.
Almost simultaneously, the United States was undergoing its own public debate surrounding regulations protecting data privacy. In 2017, Congress narrowly passed legislation permitting internet providers to store and sell customer browsing histories without their express consent. In response, California passed its own law in 2018 restricting companies from sharing user data without permission and requiring that users be informed to whom their data is being sold and why. This law is known as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Events like the Cambridge Analytica scandal gave the broader public an in-depth look at how their data was being stored and used. Even banks are not immune to this issue, so if you’re looking for a new financial services provider, look for a bank that offers data protection features such as robust data encryption and compliance with GDPR and CCPA.
Unfortunately for marketers, damaged consumer trust has set off a chain reaction where companies have begun to second-guess how they have been accessing, collecting, storing, and using consumer data.
Data privacy is a big deal, no matter which side someone stands on. Violating these new laws can result in fines and other civil penalties. For example, data privacy laws can even impact compliance with the PCI standards, which have their own set of fines and consequences. Potentially worse, violations can also impact brand identity and consumer trust – it’s possible to pay a fine, but it’s harder to win back customers.
How Can Businesses Adapt?
Adapting may seem like a challenge, especially considering digital marketing has been upended, but marketers can still build a sound marketing strategy and stay on top of data privacy changes.
1) Be Transparent
Being transparent is one of the changes businesses should embrace. Both the GDPR and the CCPA require transparency, but being transparent can also mean going beyond the requirements of the law. Transparency is a key way to regain consumer trust. The best way to do this is by giving your users a clear idea of how you use their data. By being transparent with how data is collected using cookies and terms & conditions pop-ups, consumers will feel less apprehensive about sharing their data.
Misusing Data Is Costly
The Cambridge Analytica scandal centred around the inappropriate use of data. Cambridge Analytica was a U.K.-based data analytics company that collected data on up to 87 million Facebook users, purporting to use it for academic research. They did so by having users fill out a survey, which also disclosed their political leanings.
Later, the whistleblower Christopher Wylie, disclosed that Cambridge Analytica had misused the data to build psychographic profiles and deliver targeted ads during the 2016 Presidential Campaign and Brexit. Ultimately, the misuse of this data resulted in Cambridge Analytica’s bankruptcy in 2018, and Facebook was fined £500,000 for exposing its users’ data. By failing to be transparent, and mishandling data they were trusted with, both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook paid huge costs.
Transparency Can Be Profitable
By contrast, embracing a more transparent data privacy approach can boost your business. Several companies have turned to this perspective and have seen huge benefits as a result.
For example, DuckDuckGo, once unknown as a search engine, has seen a tremendous uptick in search engine usage since 2018! DuckDuckGo embraces a privacy-minded approach and generates over 100 million in revenue each year. In 2010, DuckDuckGo saw 16.4 million search queries. Today, the website has seen a daily average of 93.8 million search queries for October 2022 and 27.7 billion for 2022!
Other companies, like Apple, Firefox, and Google, have also begun addressing privacy concerns. Firefox, one of the leading web browsers, blocks tracking cookies by default, and Google unveiled a new version of Google Analytics to address consumer privacy concerns. Google also allows account holders to do a “privacy checkup” that helps them understand how their data is used and how ads are targeted to them. Blockchain, which also offers security and privacy protections, is one of the reasons why users choose to protect their investments using crypto instead of fiat currency.
Finally, Apple has made significant strides by giving iPhone users the power to limit their tracking. All-in-all, these transparency changes have had a tremendous benefit for these companies, in contrast to firms like Cambridge Analytica that have found themselves left to history. By embracing transparent data-usage practices, businesses can avoid the pitfalls of the sweeping changes in data privacy.
2) Target Your Consumers on a Large Scale
The second way to avoid the trappings of data privacy changes is to switch strategies and adopt a broader marketing approach. Traditional digital marketing relied on cookies and individualized ad experiences to work. Companies must now evaluate their metrics on a larger scale and avoid highly individualized marketing that requires specific data.
Broader Marketing Challenges
In the past, marketers often relied on large volumes of data to build a marketing campaign targeted at the perfect audience. However, as consumers have begun taking their data privacy more seriously, much of this personalized and individual data has disappeared. As a result, marketers must find a way to create brand strategies that put their business on the map.
One way to do this is with larger scale metrics and identifying better consumers. Rather than storing vast quantities of highly personalized data about every consumer, focus on broader trends, like geographic location or who makes purchases from the business. For example, fashion brands are particularly in a strong position to utilize past insights from their former customers.
Businesses often miss that some of their best samples for marketing data are right under their noses. Present customers can help reveal what is working rather than focusing on what is missing.
3) Exchange Consumer Insights for Benefits
Consider compensating consumers for sharing data with you. Today, consumers are more likely to opt-out of sharing data, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enticed into sharing it with you. One way to encourage customers to share their data is to offer promotional opportunities and surveys.
Promotional Codes and Surveys
Promotional codes can be an excellent way to get consumers to share their customer satisfaction insights. For example, a website can simply have a pop-up window for a new product they want to sell. Users will then be notified that they can receive a promotional code for a small discount if they agree to share some insights.
Another option is to use surveys. Users can similarly be directed to a survey asking about whatever relevant information is desired. Surveys potentially open up a better avenue of insights discovery than even traditional data insights because businesses can tailor surveys to their needs.
Rather than relying on cookie data, which can be misleading, surveys allow marketers to dig in deep with questions that elicit more information than you might expect. Remember, though, it’s important to be clear about what information is being collected with the survey and what it is being used for.
4) Leverage New Data Insights Tools
Finally, marketers and businesses should consider leveraging newer data insights tools. Businesses should accept that the days of freely poaching data from the internet are over. In order to compete in this new landscape, businesses will have to adapt and become creative.
One way to do this is to leverage new insights tools like the Facebook Pixel. Facebook Pixel works by embedding a small piece of code on a website. Users who click on a Facebook ad are sent to a landing page on the intended website. Once this is done, a consent form pops up so the user can consent to the data transfer. After they’ve agreed to share their data, it’s transmitted back to Facebook, where marketers can view the insights and use them to generate new ads.
Facebook Pixel is just one example of how digital marketing is changing today. Marketers can also get creative by utilizing custom domains for their websites. New top-level domains have been approved by ICANN, allowing marketers to pick unique names and domains that reflect their brand. These choices are a great way to carve out a unique position online that helps make the brand stand out.
By leveraging these new tools and thinking creatively, marketers and businesses can adapt to privacy changes occurring in the law.
New data privacy regulations will require businesses to think on their feet and adapt to the market’s changing demands. Understanding these new laws is key because significant penalties can mount if websites and companies fail to adhere to them.
However, huge gains can be made by embracing the public’s concern about privacy and data usage. Furthermore, adjusting marketing strategies to reflect these new frameworks will actually help improve marketing. Finally, utilizing creative and new tools and trading user insights for benefits can be a great way to continue gathering insights in a new privacy-conscious world.
Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full-time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.