The Value In Living Out Your Values

5 min read

Rai-mon Barnes is the Founder and CEO of marketing agency Consciously™. He helps businesses grow sustainably and holistically.

We track everyone and everything in marketing. People will sign away their right to privacy without even thinking about what the tracking entails when it comes to marketing, but are less eager to give up their rights and privacy in other situations.

Some are abandoning the idea that erasing consumer privacy leads to a net benefit for businesses and consumers. Industry thought leaders like David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of Basecamp, are showing us what the world can look like when we value the trust our audiences give us—and offer them our own trust in return.

Hansson says, “the tech industry has been so used to capturing whatever data it could for so long that it has almost been forgotten to ask whether it should. But that question is finally being asked. And the answer is obvious: This gluttonous collection of data must stop.”

Basecamp no longer includes tracking pixels on the emails they send. While this effectively blinds the company from knowing how many people click on, read or engage with an email, Hansson views it as more important to take a step in the right direction. Basecamp also launched a privacy-focused email client that actively thwarts efforts to track users, make them automatically opt-in to things or trick them into thinking an ad is actually an important email.

As the founder and CEO of a marketing agency, I see a shift in how privacy and marketing are colliding and what that means for your business efforts and values. You can have custom experiences and better performance without taking away privacy rights.

Embracing consumer privacy as a value sends strong signals to the public, and that message can easily resonate in a way that earns trust. It also leads to positive mentions of your company in social and business circles, helping your actions build momentum for a movement that desperately needs to happen.

Tracking Is Coming Under More Scrutiny

Attribution is a fallacy. It’s important that you know what people like when you produce a product or service; it’s not quite as important that you know exactly who liked it. It’s important you know if people are finding you because of a certain website but not exactly who is coming to you from that site.

The government has started to pay more attention to tracking. This has caused changes in marketing including the elimination of cookies. Consumers are also choosing to opt out of being tracked. Browsers are being created to keep users’ privacy secure and block third-party cookies. The question is “do people want to be tracked,” not “will they allow you to track them.”

In a 2019 survey of US internet users, 90% of respondents said they found at least one type of annoying digital advertisement. Autoplay videos, with or without sound, were the No. 1 type of annoying ad cited. However, 36.3% of respondents said they disliked ads on social media feeds targeted based on user behaviors and 34.2% said they didn’t like seeing ads for products they have browsed for but haven’t purchased.

Sending an ad directly to someone because they visited your site or even signed up for your list isn’t something most people are opting into. The intent is important. Maybe someone just wanted to learn but you’ve labeled it as decision-making content—and there’s rarely a checkbox that says “I just want to learn.”

You need to draw a distinction between gathering valuable information to find out what’s working for your company, when it works, where it’s working and how it works versus exactly who it worked on. Knowing that, in aggregate, your marketing efforts are resonating on certain channels during a particular time can be just as, if not more important, than knowing exactly who it worked on.

This is particularly true when you’re using an ecosystem approach to your marketing efforts versus an old school funnel approach. When you have relationships that deepen over time, which is the point of an ecosystem approach, valuing the privacy of those you’re in a relationship with becomes even more important.

A Pew Research survey of almost 700 business and policy leaders, tech experts, activists and researchers predicted that the future of digital marketing privacy includes, among other things, that:

  • Consumers’ privacy will be better protected online.
  • Digital privacy regulations will be created and enforced.
  • Public norms will shift toward more privacy protection online.
  • Targeted advertising will become less prevalent.

We owe it not just to our customers but to ourselves and the public at large to show our marketing peers that there can be a different world so long as we take a moment to think, reflect and actively make decisions that further the greater good by giving experiences that are meaningful and not creepy.

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