Most marketing professionals know personalization is a key ingredient to successful customer engagement. But it’s not always clear how to put together a winning strategy.

“One path is traditional broadcast thinking,” said Ehren Maedge, GM of North America at customer engagement platform MoEngage, in his presentation at our MarTech conference. “We think about creating a small amount of content distributed to a broad audience. But there’s another path, and the other path is personalized, one-to-one engagement for each customer prospect.”

Image: MoEngage

Maedge claims that “one-to-one personalization is the future.” If brands don’t adjust their strategies to fit this model, they’ll be displaced by alternatives. That’s what it takes to survive in a world filled with high consumer expectations.

Here are some personalization strategies to stay competitive in customer engagement.

Find hidden data

“Without the information, without the data, you don’t have any way to personalize,” said Maedge. “You don’t have any way to really truly engage customers on the basis.”

Your customer data could be hiding in many places: analytics tools, web browsing data, surveys, or mobile apps. Any user properties that capture geographic, demographic, or behavioral data are ripe for the picking.

“Be scrappy and creative with where you can get different parts of data,” said Maedge, “because the ultimate goal is to take that data and unify what you have.”

He added, “It doesn’t need to be perfect to start building that single view of the customer.”

Engage customers using many channels

“We’re talking about things like push notifications on the mobile app,” Maedge said. “We’re talking about in-app popups in a mobile app. We’re talking about SMS for some regions of the world. We’re talking about WhatsApp and of course everything between.”

Maedge pointed to what he calls the ‘accordion strategy’ of personalized marketing engagement. Brands that offer something of value in exchange for channel opt-ins are ‘expanding’ customer opportunities.

“If you’re going to expand the accordion, that’s how you play music,” said Maedge. “So expanding the number of channels that you have available to reach out to a customer is how you’re ultimately going to be successful.”

There are many ways brands can expand their value offerings in digital campaigns. Here are a few practical engagement examples.

  • Sign up for SMS reminders and get $10 off;
  • Download the mobile app and get free shipping; and
  • Sign up for an email and reserve your place in line for a new product launch.

Use a customer data orchestration platform

Once customer data is gathered and consistently fed from many channels, marketers should look for ways to capitalize on the information. For this, they need an orchestration, or cross-channel campaign management, platform.

“Forrester talks about cross-channel campaign management, or CCEM platforms, as enterprise marketing technologies that support customer data management, segmentation, analytics, etc.,” said Maedge. “Forrester is identifying purpose-built tools that help marketers actually engage their consumers across channels.”

Since customers expect personalized experiences wherever brands find them, marketers must use tools that keep up. The key factor, however, is whether they’re able to respond to customer trends, not which platforms they go with.

“What’s important here is not to pick a vendor on the list,” said Maedge. “It’s important to see the trends and what vendors are doing.”

Implement augmented intelligence

“We feel that marketers need to lead on AI to magnify their results,” Maedge said. “But we think of it in a different framework. It’s really more about augmented intelligence versus artificial intelligence.”

Artificial intelligence is a popular topic and application that many marketers have used in their personalization efforts. Its machine learning capabilities can improve campaign efficiency. Yet many professionals like Maedge believe it fails to use valuable human elements, such as your hunches, experience, or perspectives.

Augmented intelligence — unlike artificial intelligence — seeks to amplify these elements. It can help marketers improve their engagement efforts by highlighting the human side of their brands while ensuring actionable data collection.

“When we think about AI that we really think about augmented intelligence,” said Maedge. “How do you take your hunches, experience, perspective, and put on the suit that makes everything you do and makes it more effective?”

He added, “We feel that taking advantage of AI and letting marketers lean on AI to do this is really where things are headed.”

Watch the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

The post 4 ways to drive customer engagement through personalization appeared first on MarTech.

The Impact of Continuous Scrolling on SEO

Google recently made a change to mobile search results. It’s called continuous scrolling, and while it’s a minor tweak to the SERPs, it might have an impact on your SEO.

Here’s everything you need to know about continuous scrolling.

What Is Continuous Scrolling?

You always hear marketers talking about the distinction between page one and page two in SEO.

However, if you’ve performed any mobile Google searches in the U.S. lately, you might have noticed the results keep going as you scroll.

That’s because rather than breaking the results down into pages, Google now shows four pages worth of results through continuous scrolling. This is currently limited to mobile searches in the U.S. but set to expand in 2022.

Plus, continuous scrolling isn’t limited to Google.

Traditionally, we’ve used pagination to break up information on the web. However, this requires people to keep clicking. Particularly on mobile, this isn’t ideal for user experience.

Some websites, apps, and, of course, Google are turning to continuous scrolling.

The big question is, what does this mean for your SEO?

Effects of Continuous Scrolling in Mobile Search on SEO, Impressions, and CTR

What does continuous scrolling mean for SERP performance? Will you get more or fewer impressions and clicks?

The answer is…it remains to be seen. Continuous scrolling will undoubtedly change how we interact with the SERPs. Still, without pagination, your actual location on the scroll—your search engine results position rather than page—-will matter more than ever.  

Here are five predictions you might see come true as a result of continuous scrolling.

Page One Click-Through Rate (CTR) Will Go Down

When page two results are more accessible, the CTR for page one results is likely to drop. Continuous scrolling has the feel of a newsfeed from social media, so people are more likely to explore their options. 

continuous scrolling on mobile search will make the ctr go down

The results at the top of the rankings are there for a reason: They’re generally the best pages to answer the search query. As consumers, we’ve all been socialized to accept this point, as evidenced by the top result getting 43.32 percent of the clicks

With time, people might get more accustomed to scrolling through the results, which will likely impact CTRs for page one results. However, it’s still not time to start celebrating if you’re stuck on page two.

There May Be More Impressions for Page Two Results

If you make it easier for people to access page two results, they will get more impressions. The difficulty is, you’re also training people to scroll through the results and explore their options further, so they won’t necessarily stop on page two.

Pages on page two of the results might get some more impressions. At present, 0.78 percent of searchers click on something from the second page. However, those page two results have to compete with page one more immediately.

More Rich Results

When you imagine a news feed on social media, you see lots of images and videos. Google’s equivalent is rich results that contain features like shopping, video, featured snippets, commonly asked questions, and much more. 

"Bugs Bunny" search on Google's continuous scrolling

The more users feel comfortable scrolling the SERPs, the easier it is for Google to include rich results. With static pages, it’s challenging to have too many rich elements because it would be overkill. With continuous scrolling, this becomes easier from a user experience standpoint.

More Zero-Click Searches

Zero-click searches have been increasing rapidly over the years. Nearly 65 percent of searches result in the user not clicking a link, which is likely to increase with continuous scrolling. 

There are many reasons people might not click on results, but perhaps the biggest one is they got all the information they need from rich results or meta descriptions

If continuous scrolling results in more rich features, it may well mean more zero-click searches.

Desktop Will Follow

One of the reasons continuous scrolling has been rolled out on mobile is because it fits better with the user experience. On desktop, it’s easy to click the “see more” button.

That doesn’t mean desktop is going to stay the same, though.

If Google sees promising results from continuous scrolling, like increased ad revenue and improved UX, it’s likely continuous scrolling will also roll out on desktop.

What Continuous Scrolling Means for Marketers

While it’s difficult to make any significant recommendations until we see how continuous scrolling plays out, there are some essential things you should be thinking about.

Keep a Closer Eye on Your Data

Data is important no matter what’s happening in the world of SEO.

While marketers often focus on the information we can glean from Google Analytics, such as visitors, bounce rates, and time on page, the information in Google Search Console (GSC) can be equally important.

For this particular update, all the information you need will be in GSC.

This is where you can see how your page ranks for a search term and the click-through rate it gets. If you start seeing significant fluctuations in your CTR on mobile, it could be partly due to continuous scrolling.

Don’t just watch this happen; brainstorm how to get your CTR back up and keep bringing those clicks to your site.

Optimize to Feature in Rich Results

One of the ways to optimize for continuous scrolling is to make sure you’re doing schema markup well. Schema is like a language that allows you to communicate with the search engines and tell them what pages are about and which bits are most important. 

By using Schema markup correctly, you’re more likely to perform well in featured snippets, local results, and commonly asked questions. 

Focus on Your Titles and Metas

The more competition there is for clicks, the more you’ve got to use the limited real estate you have to stand out. For standard results, this means optimizing your titles and meta descriptions

It’s easy to get drawn to the rich results, but people are still looking for the same thing they always have—quick access to information. The right title and meta description can assure people they’re going to get this.

You’ve got to grab people’s attention, match user intent, and give people confidence that you’re going to answer their questions.

Look Out for the Continuous Scrolling Trend

Continuous scrolling has been around for a long time, especially on social media. You tend to see it more often on apps because they’re specifically designed for mobile devices, but that doesn’t mean it won’t become standard on websites. 

continuous scrolling on website

While continuous scrolling can offer a slightly improved UX (particularly on mobile), it comes with limitations. To get the maximum benefit, it has to be implemented exceptionally well, and even so, it doesn’t offer a big SEO boost. 

For now, continuous scrolling isn’t the norm on websites, but we can’t say this won’t change.

Frequently Asked Questions About Continuous Scrolling

Why should I care about continuous scrolling on search?

Continuous scrolling is going to affect a lot of searches. If you’re not ready for the changes, it could have a significant impact on your traffic.

Is there going to be continuous search scrolling on desktop?

For now, Google has only announced plans for continuous scrolling on mobile. However, this could change.

How are users affected by continuous scrolling on mobile search?

Continuous scrolling makes the results on pages two, three, and four more accessible.

When did Google roll out continuous scrolling on mobile search?

Google announced continuous scrolling for US mobile searches in October 2021.

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Continuous Scrolling on Mobile Search Conclusion

Continuous scrolling certainly doesn’t mean you need to rip up the SEO rulebook.

It’s a SERP change designed to improve user experience. With additional pages’ results being more accessible, it might mean a drop in CTR for the top results. However, those results may still stay on top if they provide the most credible and immediate information.

We’re also likely to see more rich results on mobile, which could result in increased zero-click searches.

To keep up with these changes, marketers have to ensure they’re focused on getting their schema markup right, and optimizing titles and meta descriptions. Of course, these are all important for SEO anyway. As long as you’re doing the basics well, you shouldn’t have a problem. 

How do you feel about continuous scrolling?

2021 November 26 MarketingCharts Chart

2021 November 26 MarketingCharts Chart

B2B Mobile Mania: Young Staffers Use Smartphones To Buy Business Products
53 percent of B2B buyers in the Gen Z demographic say they use their smartphones when researching and buying for business, and once a purchase has been made 50 percent see brand newsletters as very important — two of several insights of interest to digital marketers contained in recently-released survey data. MediaPost

The Behaviors and Attitudes of U.S. Adults on Twitter [Pew Study]
Some 69 percent of adult U.S. Twitter users say they utilize the platform to stay informed, with 45 percent looking to express their opinion, some of the findings contained in newly-released Pew Research Center study data examining Twitter usage. Pew Research

Twitter Launches Updated Tweet Analytics Card, Providing More Specific Performance Insight
Twitter has rolled out new tweet engagement metric data, including a variety of insights on profile visits, media views, new follower counts, link clicks and more, all featured in the social platform’s latest analytics update, Twitter recently announced. Social Media Today

The Marketing Trends of 2022 [The Ultimate Guide] [HubSpot Report]
Influencer marketing was the leading marketing specialty that marketers plan to invest in during 2022, with 46 percent of those already using influencers saying they plan to increase spending on influencer marketing next year, according to newly-released report data from HubSpot, also showing that 56 percent of marketers who invest in working with influencers work with micro-influencers who have less than 100,000 followers. HubSpot

2021 November 26 Statistics Image

The New Business Climate for Marketing Agencies in 2021
A majority of agency executives have said that 2021 has provided more new business opportunities than last year, and that business from existing clients has been the most effective way for generating business — two of several statistics of interest to online marketers contained in recently-released survey data. MarketingProfs

App Annie predicts TikTok to reach 1.5 billion active users in 2022
Gen Z mobile app users are expected to increase their financial involvement by 160 percent through the use of financial apps such as Coinbase and Robinhood, according to newly-released forecast data from app ranking firm Ann Annie, which also predicts that 2022 will see TikTok surpassing the 1.5 billion user mark. ZDNet

Instagram adds TikTok-like Text-to-Speech and Voice Effects tools to Reels
Facebook-owned Instagram has brought greater accessibility features to its Reels short-form vertical video format, with the roll-out of new text-to-speech and vocal effect tools, giving marketers additional options for reaching broader audiences with the format, Instagram recently announced. TechCrunch

Brands Say They’ve Recovered From The Pandemic, But Risks Persist, Experian Reports
74 percent of brands have incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) tools, a five percent jump from 2020, and 59 percent of organizations have mostly or completely weathered the pandemic storm, according to recently-released survey data of interest to digital marketers. MediaPost

2021 TopRank Marketing B2B Influencer Marketing Survey Image

Consumers Increase Their Video Use While Email Is Flat: Study
60 percent of consumers worldwide have said that they are utilizing more video chatting to communicate with businesses in 2021 than they did last year, while some 47 percent have increased their use of digital communication formats for engaging with organizations, according to newly-released survey data. MediaPost

How Are B2B Marketers Going About Building ABM Target Account Lists?
When it comes to how B2B marketers plan to grow their account-based-marketing (ABM) account lists, a leading 52 percent said that predictive data will be tops, followed by technographic, behavioral, and intent-signal data, while sales team-selected and firmographic data top the list of types currently in-use, according to recently-released survey data. MarketingCharts


2021 November 26 Marketoonist Comic Image

A lighthearted look at the “black friday & holiday shopping” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Instagram asks suspected bots to verify themselves with video selfies — The Verge


  • Lee Odden — 5 Questions 4: Understanding influencer marketing and why it’s important for B2B companies with Lee Odden — Demandbase
  • LEX Markets — A Harlem office building heads to an IPO — Crain’s New York
  • Lee Odden — Membership Update Fall 2021 [Digital Marketing Institute] — Digital Marketing Institute

Have you recently found your own top B2B marketing news from the past week? Please drop us a line in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time to join us for the week’s TopRank Marketing B2B marketing news, and we hope that you’ll return next Friday for more of the week’s most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us on our LinkedIn page, or at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

The post B2B Marketing News: B2B Marketers Turn To Predictive, Twitter Adds New Analytics, & More Young Marketers Are Buying Via Smartphone appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Good morning: We’re nearly there

POSTED BY November 26, 2021

MarTech’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, and we’re nearly there.

I mean the holiday season, with all its joys, all its pleasure and all its professional and personal stresses. If you’ve been planning and implementing holiday shopping campaigns, you’re almost at the point at which you can sit back and see what happens.

If you’re responsible for Thanksgiving dinner, let’s hope the shopping is over and done with — or at least that you’re confident that boxes of goodies are going to be on your doorstep today or tomorrow.

And if part of your Thanksgiving ritual is lively debate among friends and family around the table, well, 2021 has certainly offered up plenty of possible topics.

Kim Davis

Editorial Director


What we’re reading. We may soon be reading a lot more of those leaked Facebook documents. Gizmodo, the “design, technology, science and science fiction” platform is committing to releasing those documents, reportedly obtained from members of the Senate Commerce subcommittee, as fast as possible.

To protect sensitive information in the documents and especially safeguard privacy, Gizmodo is partnering with a team of independent academic experts. Is there something poetic in a sci-fi website harrying the would-be owners of the metaverse?

Quote of the day. “Customers will love a company when the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek, author and podcaster

The post Good morning: We’re nearly there appeared first on MarTech.

Concentrix, a global provider of customer experience and business performance solutions, has entered a definitive agreement to acquire CX design and transformation business PK, formerly known as Connective. The move is expected to help Concentrix scale its digital capabilities faster as well as adding adjacent markets to the Concentrix portfolio.

Concentrix, which is present in over 40 countries, aims at improving customer engagement across a wide set of industry verticals. PK, which has a smaller international presence, engineers and optimizes experiences for such clients as Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, Microsoft, Disney and Uber.

Why we care. The marriage of a global presence with specific digital capabilities makes sense. While the combined offering may lean more toward customer service and success than sales and marketing the divisions between those functions are steadily breaking down. Today, CX starts with supply chain, runs through marketing, sales and service, and also shows up in values-based communications.

At the center of all that is digital experience. “This acquisition adds immediate and meaningful breadth and scale to our CX digital capabilities,” said Chris Caldwell, President and CEO of Concentrix.

The post Concentrix to acquire CX design business PK appeared first on MarTech.

One of the most difficult challenges marketers face is keeping customers engaged long enough to buy. And while there are multiple factors involved, this problem often stems from bad data.

Kate Adams, SVP of Marketing at data solutions company Validity, pointed to some startling statistics in her presentation at our MarTech conference: “According to MarketingSherpa, every year 25% to 30% of data becomes inaccurate, leading to less effective sales and marketing campaigns.”

Adams noted that all these statistics were pre-pandemic, which suggests that the inaccuracies are even higher now. The shifting routines and conditions many consumers face in this new world require effective engagement tactics more than ever.

Here are five ways the Validity team recommends marketers use data to keep customers engaged throughout their entire journey.

Data deduplication

“30% of our databases on average is duplicated and that from the start is going to skew campaign results,” said Olivia Hinkle of Validity in the same presentation.

15% of leads contain duplicated data, according to statistics from Integrate. Whether it’s a consumer who contacts a brand via form and phone or one who interacts with both chat and email, there are plenty of places where duplicate information can disrupt marketing operations. This is why understanding the context of your interactions is critical.

“Wherever you live with your data, make sure you focus on your leads in context,” said Hinkle. “That’s what we use to connect with people, so we want to make sure that they’re clean.”

Deduplicating data can help marketers improve customers’ experiences by giving outreach teams accurate information.

Web form conversion optimization

The average web form conversion rate is 2.5%, according to data from Wordstream. Some marketing professionals believe this is due to issues in design, but many attribute it to the high volume of form fields.

“I think one of the core reasons for that is that we’re just asking for too much information on our forms,” said Adams. “I feel like forms on different websites just keep getting longer.”

As long as the most pertinent information from customers is captured, reducing required form fields can help marketers to improve completions.

Data standardization

It would be virtually impossible to ensure each member of your marketing team inputs campaign data the same way. But marketers can implement standardization processes once the data comes together.

“Everybody is going to enter data differently,” said Hinkle. “We are moving through our day fast. And nine times out of 10, we’re not going to remember every single standard for every single field, so we’ve got to get those things standardized,”

“Whatever your standard is, make sure it’s known. Use it, be consistent with it, and enforce it,” she added.

Personalized chat experiences

Many brands shy away from chat services because they believe the technology isn’t right for their audiences. But more often than not, most consumers find value in these experiences. In fact, 92% of customers are satisfied using live chat services compared to phone emails or social media. The key factor is personalization.

“You can provide a more amazing chat experience if you can pull in those variables and provide a really personalized experience for folks,” Adams said.

She added, “As long as your data has been standardized and it has been cleaned up and it’s trustworthy.”

Data verification

“You can’t expect to connect with people unless you’re verifying your data, “said Hinkle, “especially after learning that pre-pandemic numbers show 30% of our data is going to decay or get inaccurate. And 65% of contact data generated from those forms is invalid.”

Brands that fail to use data verification in their marketing automation systems could end up reaching fewer customers. That’s why Hinkle recommends focusing on verifying the most basic customer information first.

“I think the most obvious one is email verification,” said Hinkle. “You can plug and play at the point of capture. You can go into your CRM and figure out a cadence that makes sense.”

Once an effective data verification system is put in place, marketers can more easily determine the best way to reach customers. The absence of inaccurate data helps brands connect with them based on interests, behaviors, and the other information they’ve provided.

“Find that segment that you’ve deduped and standardized, and then do your email, phone, or address verification,” Hinkle said. “Take note of the results and see what comes back to you. That’s going to help you identify what data vendors work better for you.”

Watch the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

The post How marketers can keep customers engaged using data appeared first on MarTech.

“More and more brands from around the world are discussing responsible marketing and striving to embody it,” said Frank Brooks, Head of EMEA Marketing at marketing automation company dotdigital, at our recent MarTech conference.

To build trust with customers, organizations need to be consistent with their marketing practices and communicate that they are being responsible.

“Responsible marketing is ensuring you’re not just doing things for the sake of doing it by the book; you’re going above and beyond to put your customers first to think about the wider impact your marketing has and what it says about your business and the way it operates,” Brooks said. “Responsible marketing is an approach that ensures you’re not just meeting customers’ needs, but you’re also having a positive impact on the community that you’re both a part of.”

More digital than ever

Because of the pandemic and the digital transformation that was accelerated by it, customers are engaging with brands online more than ever.

This raises new challenges for marketers because the capabilities of current technologies have overtaken the limitations of earlier processes that were built for a more permissive marketing environment. Now, marketers have to establish a relationship with a customer not only to sell them products, but to serve them ads and emails.

“The key to establishing responsible marketing is putting the customer at the center of everything a brand does, both in its communications to the wider world but also to each customer,” said Brooks. “This is determined by having the data that reveals each customer’s behavior and preferences as a platform for personalized communications, while still ensuring that you’re ahead of compliance and regulatory changes.”

He added, “The business should operate responsibly and show care and respect for the data they hold on customers, while the customer receives a more rewarding experience powered by personalization to grow loyalty and lifetime value.”

Trust in decline

“Trust declined in customers using search engines, traditional media, owned media and social media between 2019 and 2021, and there are many reasons why customers lose trust in a brand, such as negative experience of the product or service,” said Brooks.

Each company has to be aware of the downward trend, and consider what practices they can change to show they are responsible. They should also meet customers’ needs when they demand to see a company’s environmental impact.

“Research by Kantar shows that sustainability is more important to global customers since the COVID pandemic, while 65% of respondents to a survey stated that climate change needs to be prioritized after COVID,” Brooks said. “That’s a huge figure in our research. We found that 20% wanted to hear more about how a brand was supporting charitable causes, while 23% wanted to know what a business was doing to be more sustainable.”

The “now customer”

The relationship between a company and the environment is important. So is the personal relationship with customers. It comes down to a balance between personalization and security. Customers demand both.

In dotdigital’s own research, they found that customers wouldn’t mind giving up the data if the online experience is made more personal, said Brooks.

“So there is still great appetite [for a personalized experience], even though there might be some trepidation,” he stated.

We are now in the era of the “now customer,” who wants real-time relevant messages. This opens the door for brands to offer value in exchange for data to ensure that messages are useful to customers.

It all comes down to communicating with customers that their privacy and data are protected and won’t be misused by organizations.

“Companies should build an infrastructure that protects what stakeholders value most, while proactively detecting threats in the domains of cyber security,” said Brooks. “Without this infrastructure, companies risk the market value of their brand and a possible decline in customer loyalty and bad PR.”

View the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

The post How responsible marketing impacts customer retention and value appeared first on MarTech.

Adobe and Major League Baseball have announced new initiatives to enhance fan engagement leveraging Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe will also promote seamless workflows among clubs and players using Adobe Sign.

For fans at the ballpark, the digital experience will potentially include directions to seats, parking promotions and concession discounts. Fans at home will be able to receive personalized messages and promotions, notifications when they’re favorite players are in town or free trials for MLB.TV.

Adobe Sign will smooth workflows for player and vendor contracts, while Adobe Creative Cloud will help clubs share creative assets.

Why we care. Baseball may be a historic sport but that doesn’t mean it has to engage with fans only in traditional ways. With fans of major clubs distributed across the country and consuming content across many different channels a digital strategy is tablestakes.

We might add, it’s less than three months now to pitchers and catchers.

The post Adobe and MLB announce expanded partnership appeared first on MarTech.

Build trust, gain sales

POSTED BY November 25, 2021

The rules of the game are changing. Digital marketers must comply with laws protecting consumer data, regardless of whether those rules originate in Europe (GDPR) or California (CCPA). A brand can just go along with the rules. Or it can turn data privacy into a competitive advantage.

Consider this: about half of all Americans decided not to purchase a product or a service online because they were concerned their data would not be kept confidential. For brands, this is not a dead end. It is an opportunity to build a relationship with that customer—based on trust. Allay the suspicions of that consumer and you may get their sale.

“Good marketers put compliance optimization first. Successful marketers can learn how to do that,” said Colby Cavanaugh, VP for product marketing at Integrate, a B2B marketing firm.

A private affair

Large online vendors have the resources to understand and deliver data privacy. Smaller outfits? Not so much. “We recognize that small- and medium-sized companies don’t have anyone paying attention to privacy, or someone who is ‘anointed’ and knows nothing about privacy,” said Jodi Daniels, founder and CEO  at Red Clover, a data privacy consultancy. Brands understand selling, not privacy law, so having a specialist provide guidance is useful.

The data privacy issue intertwines with personalization, customer retention and having a customer-centric viewpoint. At the face-to-face level, the conversation between the brand and the customer establishes the relationship, Daniels noted. The more the customer trusts the brand, the more information they provide, she said. “This needs to happen online.”

“Each customer has their own values,” Daniels continued. It could be that e-mail offering a 10-percent discount, a free service or a reward. It could be offering recipes following the purchase of an appliance. If you are sending an e-mail promoting the purchase of another appliance, “that is not helpful,” she said. Nor is the hard sell. “Trust is where the company is not abusing information.”

“Marketers forget they are talking to a human,” Daniels said. “Put the customer first, then you start to realize how to build a relationship. The privacy part comes naturally.”

Taking time

“You have to earn that trust,” said Integrate’s Cavanaugh. “Having that is like a line of credit.” In the B2B space, sales cycles are longer, about nine to 12 months.  The marketer needs to build a trust-based relationship with the customer.

“We earn entry into the conversation,” Cavanaugh said. He described it this way: B2B is 70% customer service, 30% sales. In terms of data privacy, the marketer must offer seven pieces of information to the customer before asking for something back the other three times.

Once the marketer makes it very clear what the user data will be used for, they can offer that white paper or e-book with more product information in exchange for more customer information, Cavanaugh explained. Remember, the customer is trying to make a buying decision, so they need information to help them get to “yes.” Even the follow-ups should be well-timed, again offering more information after opt-in, rather than delivering the sales pitch, he said.

Use, don’t abuse

“When you are talking to large enterprise customers, they are very conversant with the need to protect and secure customer data.” said Grant McDougall, co-founder of BlueOcean, a “Strategy-as-a-Service” marketing firm.  “Companies need to invite customers into the conversation using digital tools such as social and web experiences and then build meaningful relationships. The onus is on the brand is to be good; they should also be creating interesting content and experiences to keep themselves top of mind.”

“Customers are willing to share data when there is a disproportionate exchange in value.” McDougall continued. “Samsung did an excellent job in building a live loyalty program integrated with its handsets that provide content and experiences if customers opted into the program. REI [the outdoor gear and clothing brand] is another excellent example where shoppers provide their data to participate in the Co-op and reap the benefits of the community and their purchases.”

Trust cannot be compromised. “Brands should be wary of selling their customer’s data, interactions. I use a simple test of what would happen if a customer found out that you were selling their personal information for profit.” McDougall said.  “Be transparent as a brand, lean into privacy, and allow your customers to opt-in and participate.” McDougall acknowledges that the environment is challenging, but also points out that “data is the new oil.”

“Companies that have [it] are moving and those that don’t are finding it hard to compete.” he said.

Build trust, get data

Privacy needs to be promoted on the web site, said Daniels. There has to be language on the landing page that addresses the privacy concerns of the customer. You have to use this content to bring the customer down the funnel. “Not all companies are doing this,” Daniels said.

That means arming the sales side with privacy information as part of their marketing material, Daniels said, since the sales people will be getting hit with privacy questions from the customer.

For Cavanaugh, it comes down to integrity. Marketers have to hold themselves to the highest possible standards regarding data privacy. Doing all the work up front to convince the customer that their data will be held safe frees up the marketer to focus more on the customer experience.

McDougall sees digital privacy as a step to enable greater creativity.  “Understanding of the context of your audience and how to meet them where they are will be the next competitive advantage.” he said.

McDougall offered this checklist:

  • “Accept that the tools we have been using for the past twenty years may not be fit for the next twenty.”
  • “Build a real connection with current customers. Earn their trust and provide real value. They will opt-in.”
  • “Remain top of mind as people opt out of your cookie pools. Rebalance between Brand and Demand. Likely [use] more video and distributed experiences and tools.”
  • “Be more creative and embrace the opportunity to make emotional content that resonates with people and supports the key brand attributes. We are moving beyond tactics like retargeting and programmatic banner ads and back to the romancing of products.”

In short, there is a virtuous cycle around which data privacy turns. If people trust you to keep their data private, they will give it to you. With that data, build the relationship. Then sales will happen.

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