The marketing and customer experience sector is in the midst of a major state of transition driven by the demand for privacy. Consumers are increasingly savvy about the way companies use their data — 66% of consumers care about how companies are using their personal data, and they have cut off contact with at least one brand because of its privacy policy, according to January Qualtrics research. In fact, nearly 60% of people said they believe third-party cookies should be disabled.

In response, Apple and Google are introducing significant privacy-related changes, such as allowing users to opt out of data tracking and ending third-party cookies in the Chrome browser, respectively.

Brands themselves are putting in place their own new privacy policies and approaches, limiting their ability to leverage old data collection tactics.

Balancing Privacy and Personalization

Companies must balance these new privacy standards while operating in an highly competitive business environment where it has never been more challenging to compete for customer attention and engagement. Today, consumers expect hyper-personalized experiences in the store, online, and when they reach out for customer support.

So how can brands have their cake (protecting consumer privacy) and eat it too (provide hyper-personalized experiences)?

Related Article: Consumer Wants: Privacy Transparency, Online Security, Better Customer Experience

Starts With Zero-Party Data

Experience data — the signals people give to let companies know what’s working, what isn’t and what they need next — provides savvy consumers the transparency they demand. Experience data is a form of “zero-party data” — the information a person intentionally volunteers to a brand in exchange for something that might improve their experience with a company. It has quickly emerged as the core alternative for brands to transparently gather data from consumers.

This zero-party data involves the individual proactively, voluntarily and knowingly sharing information with a business.

For example:

Learning Opportunities

  • Telling Netflix what shows you like or dislike.
  • Sharing with Yelp that you prefer vegan food.
  • Completing a survey on preferred brands and styles on Stitch Fix.

Brands are deploying solutions that help them quickly capture this zero-party data through pre-built studies, interactive quizzes, live polls and more, instead of relying on traditional third-party cookies.

Leading businesses aggregate this information in a database that enriches customer profiles based on feedback and preferences they have already shared with a brand over time. This allows companies to have a more holistic view of their customers to deliver personalized or targeted interactions. Brands can use this preference data to understand demographics, habits, hobbies, and budgets, as well as allow visitors to share their names and contact information for future engagements.

Consumers are also sharing loads of preference data without even being asked and brands simply need to learn how to make sense of it all. By tapping artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) analysis tools, brands can source insights from unstructured data volunteered over social media, email exchanges, support calls, live chats and more. This helps companies take the right action for their customers, employees, products, brands and designs.

Related Article: Growing Data Privacy Concerns in the Age of Digital Transformation

Personalized Experiences Leads to Differentiation

When you pull in ALL experience and operational data shared by customers — structured, unstructured, CDP data, preferences — and organize it into unique individual profiles that provide a 360-degree view of each customer’s journey, you can differentiate your business in three important areas:

  • Lead and pipeline generation. In addition to building out a database of prospects, it’s crucial to understand the interests of potential customers.
  • Targeted email campaigns and offers. Emails are one of the most effective ways to reach out to prospects when they aren’t actively thinking about your brand. Stand out from all the other emails with relevant content to the customer.
  • Targeted interactions in real time. You already have a captive audience when a customer is on your website or app. Use this opportunity to guide their journey in real time.
  • Highly personalized experiences. When you understand a customer’s motivations and intent, along with previous interactions, it empowers you to immediately shape the journey in real-time in a variety of ways.

Ultimately, these innovations empower companies to meet customers' demands for privacy while delivering personalized experiences that fit in the context of the customer journey.