Maine lighthouse at night
PHOTO: Mitch Mckee

What does quality content have to do with the wave of privacy laws that are hitting the market? On the surface they seem like two completely unrelated topics, but bear with me for a minute. Consumer privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) provide the mechanisms by which consumers can request and enact more control over their personal data being collected and sold. These laws are a reaction to the high-profile data breaches that have happened over recent years. For marketers, these regulations pose a risk because consumer data fuels everything from attribution, personalization and demand-gen through paid media. If consumers are now in a better position to withhold their personal data from their digital journeys, what can you do to mitigate data loss? This is where quality content comes in. 

Before we dig into the role content has to play, let’s see what CCPA means for marketers. Through the CCPA, consumers can request records of their personal data and ask to have it erased. Additionally, data shared with third-parties through online identifiers like cookies or tracking pixels might be considered “sale” of personal data and be subject to the “Do Not Sell” elements of the law. What that means is organizations seeking to comply with the law will need to have ways for users to “opt-out” of that sale and prevent their cookies or online identifiers from being sent to third parties. From a marketing perspective, if 10% or 20% of your website traffic requests “Do Not Sell,” your marketing effectiveness can take a hit. And while 20% might seem a high number, keep in mind that some studies place that potential “opt-out” number much higher. A recent study from AdWeek suggests it can potentially go as high as 87%.

Treat the Opt-Out Rate as a KPI

As marketers, we tend to be very numbers driven. Anyone who’s in marketing understands that without some form of measurement, it’s nearly impossible to gauge whether you’re successfully generating value for your organization. We condense every interaction, time-spent and click, into an easy to measure metric so that benchmarks can be established. We then shorten the metric further by eliminating unnecessary letters in the word and referring to the metric as a simple abbreviation: KPI, CPC, PPC, CPL anyone? 

So, is your organization and marketing team braced for a potential wave of opt-outs? Are you proactively planning to do one or all of the following?

  1. Treat the opt-out rates as a KPI.
  2. Optimize and improve (in this case, reduce) through testing.
  3. Double down on quality content.

Recognizing that consumers “opting-out” of your paid media or performance tracking will result in some form of impact to your business, it’s important to get ahead and start to plan for ways to measure and monitor that opt-out rate once you have a solution in place for consumers to opt-out. Because without any understanding of how much data you’re “losing,” you won’t be able to properly plan and adjust. 

Related Article: Data Privacy Regulations: Marketing Symptom, Setback and Solution

Optimize and Improve Through Testing

You knew this was coming. What’s a KPI without some plans to optimize through A/B testing? Of course, the goal isn’t to increase your opt-out rate, but rather reduce how many consumers opt-out of data collection and sharing. Just like email opt-outs and newsletter subscriptions, we know there are best practices in place that can encourage users to remain opted in. No, I’m not referring to dark UX patterns such as confirm shaming (a poor customer experience that your legal team will not appreciate). Remember, a large portion of users on the web are generally willing to share their personal data and information if they receive something of value in return. 

Speaking of value …

Related Article: Lessons in Transparency From the Great Opt-In Race of 2018

Double Down on Quality Content

So what do users get when they visit your site, download your ebook, or watch your video? This is where quality content comes in. Do these interactions and assets provide enough value to convince your visitors to remain opted-in to marketing and data collection? Countless studies show that consumers are generally pragmatic about their view on privacy and are willing to share their data so long as they see some value in exchange. This fair value exchange will force brands to earn the right to collect and use consumer personal data. Without a clear explanation of what someone receives in return for sharing their personal data, they’ll be more inclined to opt-out of data collection practices. The golden age of data has highlighted to consumers just how much value their personal data has, which means they’ll expect a fair exchange from any organization seeking to use it. 

Related Article: Tracking Customer Data? You Better Provide Value

Your Content Has Value

It’s easy to worry about the future of content marketing in a highly privacy-aware world. After all, if consumers start to opt-out of data collection it limits your marketing effectiveness and analytics, which makes your life more difficult in turn. 

But there’s an opportunity here as well. Beyond the ability for brands to capitalize on privacy by using it as a differentiator, there’s also an opportunity for content marketers to invest in quality experiences and content that build trust and convince the consumer to invest their personal data in the brand. Now that consumers know just how much their data is worth, they’re asking for a fair value exchange for their data. And data privacy laws like the CCPA will empower them to do so.