With two decades of digital marketing experience, Sav Khetan knows how to use first party data to get valuable insights. This skill will be especially useful for others, as privacy laws change across the country, limiting what used to be accomplished by the third party cookie.

“Attribution, targeting, look-alike audiences, media buying and impression tracking were all driven by the third party cookie,” said Khetan, the head of product strategy at Tealium. “Brands could engage consumers from acquisition through conversion without building a direct relationship with them. That approach is not viable once the third party cookie is gone.”

He added that customers feel OK with data collection and are more likely to opt in so long as they trust the organization collecting it.

“Some organizations are clearly presenting options and being transparent about the impact of opting out, and letting the customer make the choice of a sub-par experience or a more relevant opted-in experience,” he said. “The main takeaway is that trust needs to be earned and built up over time. If the organization is consistent, says what it intends to do and does what it says, customers will trust them more with each interaction.”

Tealium is a sponsor of CMSWire's DX Summit fall event, taking place online from Oct. 28 and Oct. 29. Khetan is presenting a keynote titled “Ready for What's Next: Key Trends Driving Your Data Strategy” on the first day of the conference. He’ll be exploring topics like how to prepare a robust data strategy and how to leverage the power of customer data. Khetan spoke with CMSWire about what’s changing in the privacy law landscape, what customers want in CX and how to keep data fresh and useful.

A Sea Change in the Data Landscape

CMSWire: How big or subtle of a change should organizations expect in the data environment, and how should they pivot their data strategy appropriately? 

Sav Khetan: The data environment is experiencing large external forces driving big change from multiple sides. Technology platforms are changing how much data is available to advertisers and publishers with the changes in third party cookies and device IDs. The privacy authorities around the world are bringing regulations that give the consumers the ability to limit what data can be collected and where it can be used. And, finally, because privacy has been a big topic for the last few years, the consumers themselves are starting to protect their data using ad-blockers, by opting out and [by] using privacy-first apps. Collectively these forces mean a sea change in what data is available, how it can be collected and where it can be used.

What makes this harder is that these are moving targets right now. Google has not decided what their changes look like; there is no clear solution to the cookies; and a lot of the regions have yet to finalize and enforce their regulations. As a result the world is divided right now — between Apple vs. Google and between EU vs. other regions. Advertisers and brands are stuck navigating different environments and opportunities and are forced to experiment and adapt on the fly.

All this means one thing — data and advertising strategies of the past will not work in the future. One of the primary pivots organizations will need to make is to start building direct relationships with their customers and leverage an authentic and personalized experience while asking them for information with permission in the value exchange. This should become the core of their first-party data foundation, which is needed to drive engagement and further the relationships.

Tealium's Sav Khetan: "The data and advertising strategies of the past will not work in the future."

CMSWire: Regarding data depreciation, how much data do organizations hold on to even when the value has lessened too much to be useful? Is it common for organizations to hoard old data? How can they shift their strategy to keep data as fresh as possible?

Khetan: Most organizations have several data silos, with years of data without the appropriate data retention and data hygiene practices. Driven by the reducing cost of data storage and the client-side tag that collects data for most martech tools, data silos containing data that is past its usefulness and without the required privacy checks and balances are common.

As data privacy regulations become global and pervasive, these data silos will bring risk and expense. The strategy we recommend for most organizations is to collect only the data that they have a clear use for and make sure it is cataloged as it is collected. Ensure that there are clear retention policies in place; ensure compliance by connecting the data to privacy policies and tools; and do regular audits to make sure no new data silos are being created. 

Bridging the Gap Between Customer Expectations and the Experiences Brands Deliver 

CMSWire: What do customers want in their customer experience, and what do organizations think customers want? Where is there overlap, and where is there disconnect?

Khetan: [This] is what customers hope brands can get right: Get to know me, and then use that information to give me a relevant experience—content, products, offers and services that fit with my needs. If I tell you I prefer text communication, don’t call me. If I prefer curbside pickup, make that the default. This is personalization and customer experience driven engagement.

For the most part, brands understand this about their customers’ needs. The importance of personalization and tailored customer experience has been increasing for the past decade and the pandemic has put it front and center. Most brands have a good understanding of the general approach to good customer experience.

However there still seems to be a disconnect. 94% of brands think they are doing a good [or] exceptional job at delivering excellent CX. However from the customer side, 55% of customers feel unseen and 48% feel undervalued by the brands they interact with. The Harris Poll says the gap between customer and organization perception of delivery of excellent customer experience is down to 26% in 2021.

Learning Opportunities

The main solution here is a data-first strategy. When it comes to cross-channel execution and customer understanding, the primary bottleneck is a first-party data foundation and tools to connect the experiences cross-channel. The more the brands invest in the data quality and data delivery, the better CX they will be able to deliver across the customer journey.

CMSWire: How does the changing privacy law landscape impact an organization’s ability to create the ideal customer experience, if at all?

Khetan: The biggest impact of the privacy regulations is that there needs to be transparency about what data is being collected and why. There [also] needs to be an ability for the customer to opt in or out based on their preferences and a mechanism for the customer to request all data about them be available and/or deleted when they request.

From the organization’s point of view, they need to make sure that all data they collect has privacy permissions or consent associated with that data with the ability to honor the customer’s preferences for the various data types. And the organization needs to have an infrastructure that is setup to delete all the customer’s data if requested. Other than that, they are able to use the data they collect with compliance in the same way they do today.

Customers who are opting in and sharing data willingly are probably interested in having a relationship with the organization, and that gives the organization a clear measure of which customers value the brand and [which ones] are not interested.

Looking Into the Future of Customer Experience

CMSWire: What trends do you see having a big impact in current times or the near future, and what predictions do you have for the future further out — 5 years from now?

Khetan: Data infrastructure, automation and ML are going to become more central to business outcomes because they drive agility of decision making and the ability to pivot on insights. Both Bain and McKinsey have pointed out that the top 20% performers in all industries are heavily technology led and are able to release twice as many products or services as their peers that have made less investment in technology.

Resource skills, training and partnerships are going to be the next battleground as most industries try to ramp on similar technology goals from the same pool of resources and tools. The demand far outpaces the supply which is leading to the brutal job market right now in these roles.

Data hygiene and fragmentation will get worse before it gets better as organizations make the switch from “collect-and-store what you can” to having an intentional and privacy first data approach.

Finally, brands that prioritize CX and relationships will outpace their peers and consistently retain their customers.

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