Last month, we highlighted some of the key trends that marketers need to be aware of this year. Data privacy will continue to be one of the top marketing trends this year, and here’s why we think you should be thinking about it.

Pandemic lockdowns across the globe in 2020 created a huge boom in online shopping, as customers hastened to buy the products they needed while staying home. In fact, in 2020, there was a 44% increase in e-commerce, which in turn created a lot of data for brands and marketers to leverage for future campaigns.

At the same time, shifts in the marketing landscape in 2021 have made it more difficult for marketers to use that data. Laws to protect personal data came into effect in the EU and California, with Canada also examining its privacy laws. Add to this Apple’s privacy protection measures that came into effect last year and Google’s plans to revamp tracking for Android users and phase out the cookie this year, all aimed at protecting consumer privacy. Consumers have been concerned for some time about marketers and brands knowing too much about them and their habits.

For marketers, this means the focus will need to shift away from marketing to individuals and toward more effectively communicating what your brand stands for. Google recently asked 7,200 users across Europe about their data concerns and found that when digital marketing is done correctly, it can deliver value to brands and customers while respecting people’s data choices. In fact, Google found that customers are happy to provide personal information to companies they trust, provided they know how it will be used and what they’ll get in return. Brands that don’t meet customers’ basic expectations will be met with increased skepticism about sharing personal data.

To build and maintain customer confidence, companies need to exceed expectations rather than merely meet the minimum requirements for data handling. Brands that can successfully exceed their customers’ expectations will have a competitive advantage over those that treat privacy as an afterthought. Here are some key things to consider to make sure your marketing is both privacy-safe and effective:

Get Clear on Your Brand Principles

Your customers’ expectations for marketing are high, and they want experiences that feel valuable to them. Make sure you know what your brand stands for and align your actions with your values.

Make Your Content Meaningful

According to Google, customers find ads to be valuable if they are tailored to their interests, lead to time or cost savings, and are brought to them at the right moment. Identity marketing is another effective way to develop a deep understanding of the interests, attitudes, and preferences of your customers. This kind of personalization will continue to grow in importance as privacy laws and customer confidence make it harder to leverage personal data.

Be Clear and Transparent

Transparency is key to building trust. Customers are more likely to buy from companies that are clear, honest, and open about what personal data they are collecting and why. Brand messaging is more effective when customers know how and why their data has been collected and can remember giving permission. Periodic reminders are reassuring to your customers and help your audience feel good about your brand or company.

Communicate Regularly

Make sure your marketing plan includes frequent communication. Your customers should be able to regularly review and manage the way their data is used — such as opting out or managing the frequency of marketing communications. People are three times more likely to respond positively to ad content when they feel a sense of control over how their data is used.

Online privacy is more important than ever and will impact the way companies can market to their customers. If you have any questions or concerns about privacy-safe and effective marketing, reach out to our team today — we can help.