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The Right Balance of Marketing Technology and Data Privacy

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Better insight supports better marketing. But in this age of big data, when do we cross the line from professional marketers to people manipulators?

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“The goal is to get on the target’s holiday shopping list by leveraging their social and technology behaviors to amplify the holiday campaign and share their experience within their social networks.” (AdWeek)

Wait, what?

This quote from a respected media agency president is indicative of the powerful marketing technology opportunities that are transforming our profession. But without thoughtful and careful consideration, these same opportunities have the power to derail our effectiveness and the brands we support.

Right below the surface of the industry buzz is an unsettling truth about some of these practices: we are using technology to collect personal data and manipulate people without their explicit knowledge and permission.

I know this isn’t entirely new. For decades advertisers have used customer data to fine-tune marketing strategies. Better insight supports better marketing. But in this age of big data, when do we cross the line from professional marketers to people manipulators?

Programmatic ad buying, native ads, social activation and other buzz-worthy marketing strategies are evolving faster than we can consider their potential consequences. With this in mind, here are a few guiding principles for smart, customer-centric marketing planning:

Respect People. As you consider technology integration, we can never forget there is a person on the other end of that email, retargeting campaign or landing page. If you are going to use a tracking code or place a cookie on someone’s browser, be sure your use of the data is above all, respectful of each person you reach.

Stay Informed. It is easy to run after these exciting new strategies without understanding privacy and data laws. The “asking forgiveness later” approach could put you and/or your company in serious peril. Taking risks in marketing is essential, but not when it comes to customer data and tracking practices.

Add Value. As you consider applications for your technology-enabled customer data, turn your energy toward the customer. Can you use deeper knowledge for the customer’s benefit? Can you deliver more convenience, more value, better service, higher protection, exceptional experience? Building marketing programs with your customer’s best interests in mind will be like rocket fuel for your brand-building efforts.

Keeping up with marketing trends, technology, and terminology can feel like a full-time job on top of your full-time job. When you start feeling overwhelmed, cut through the buzz by going back to the essentials. Always put the customer first and you won’t get off track.