The Sustainability of Data and the Skeptical Consumer

As long as I’ve been in this business, privacy has been an industry priority for marketers. Just as it should be. When our entire professional lives depend on continued commercial access and application of data, the sustainability of such data depends on trust.

Database & CRMAs long as I’ve been in this business, privacy has been an industry priority for marketers.

Just as it should be.

When our entire professional lives depend on continued commercial access and application of data, then consumer acceptance must be a first-and-foremost focus.

First-party, second-party, third-party — the sustainability of data depends on trust.

But permission is not the only arbiter of consumer acceptance. Relevance matters, too. What do we do with such data — and do we do it effectively? Can we demonstrate wise, responsible use of consumer information to improve the customer experience?

Yes we can, and yes we must.

It’s been a busy two weeks for data “love.”

First we had the Direct Marketing Club of New York presentation (downloadable at link) last month pointing to the heady growth in direct/digital data-driven marketing. While U.S. general ad spending is projected to grow just 1 percent this year – almost shockingly small in a Presidential Election and Olympic year — “direct and digital” are projected to grow 6.4 percent, and digital spend alone by 15.3 percent.

Then this past week, the Direct Marketing Association’s Data-Driven Marketing Institute released its “Value of Data / 2015” study — with an even more remarkable finding: The U.S. Data-Driven Marketing Economy is now $202 billion in net economic contribution and more than 50 percent of this ecosystem “depends directly on individual-level third-party data. Thus the value to the U.S. economy is greater than $102 billion.”

That’s us folks.

Now to consumer skepticism.

TRUSTe has released its “State of Online Privacy 2016” research findings. They include sobering findings:

Today, 56 percent of Americans trust businesses with their personal information online. “Consumers demand transparency in exchange for trust and want to be able to control how data is collected, used and shared with simpler tools to help them manage their privacy online,” the report stated. In addition, 37 percent think losing online privacy is a part of being more connected. Nearly three out of four Americans have limited their online activity last year due to privacy concerns.

A new study by Verint Systems may point to a paradox: 48 percent say they are suspicious about how data about themselves is used — but 89 percent believe good customer service makes them feel positive about the brand. When data is deployed, truly, to improve the customer experience — then the data-driven marketer has done her job.

In both these surveys, the data-for-value exchange is a baseline proposition.

On a macroeconomic scale, consumers and the economy obviously benefit from our increasingly data-driven world. At the customer level, many consumers aren’t so sure. We need to do the best job we can communicating transparency and control to consumers, treating them with respect, and using data to improve customer experiences.

Now, who will be my data Valentine?

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

One thought on “The Sustainability of Data and the Skeptical Consumer”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *