National privacy conversations are introducing troubling aspects that threaten the very bedrock of successful one-to-one marketing: customer engagement. Despite repeated and dogged attempts, no one—not Congress, not the FTC, not the producers of 60 Minutes or CNN—can actually find any harm to consumers from the responsible use of marketing data. Still, recent broadcasts and articles about the use of marketing data and predictive analytics (often called “consumer scores” to make them sound scary) have pitted consumers against marketers. But, in fact, we’re on the same side.
Consumers and marketers want the same things when it comes to using data for marketing purposes:
1. Consumers want to choose what they receive, in what channel, and when.
2. Consumers want to receive offers that are important to them.
3. Consumers expect marketers to recognize and greet them across channels.
4. Consumers are delighted when their loyalty is celebrated and rewarded.
5. Consumers want great offers from brands they love. They also want to be “insiders” and receive—early information and access to cool engagement experiences.
Marketers want all that, too—not just to save on marketing costs by using more effective and responsive segmentation and offer strategies, but also because they truly want to build relationships with customers and increase loyalty and brand trust. After all, trust is the foundation of customer-brand relationships. It’s a precious asset that the best marketers care about, protect, and nurture carefully.
Responsible and relevant marketing earns that trust every day. Consumers are ready for marketers to meet them across channels, devices, wearable gadgets, and product lines. The level of trust is demonstrated by their active participation, their constant online exploration and engagement, and their willingness to provide preference information and engage with brands in a multichannel way.
I’ve often said that self-regulation is doing the right thing before someone regulates that you must. Our industry has operated successfully under a self-regulatory model that protects consumers and innovation and is responsive to market evolution.
Every marketer is part of that success. When we all take the time to act responsibly, follow, and embrace the letter and spirit of industry standards and guidelines, we contribute to the continued self-regulatory status of our industry.
Why must we be extra vigilant and transparent now? Self-regulation is under attack both in the halls of policy makers and in the living rooms of public opinion. But self-regulation protects consumers and businesses without stifling innovation or hampering the economy. Here’s how:
- Self-regulation promotes innovation. Consumers love their data-driven lifestyles, as evidenced by their high participation in every aspect of e-commerce. Marketers make that happen. Restrictive legislation would kill off the innovative aspects of data-driven marketing, including cutting-edge customer service, rewards, preferences, relationships, and ever-greater relevance.
- Self-regulation is nimble. Unlike legislation, which is static and runs the risk of codifying practices that may become out-of-date even before a bill turns into law, industry self-regulation is nimble by its very nature and better suited to provide protections in innovative, fast-evolving areas like Big Data analytics.
- Safeguards are already in place. The remarkable growth of the data-driven marketing economy is due in part to the robust framework of sectoral laws and self-regulatory protections that already apply to the use of Big Data for marketing purposes. And for more than 40 years, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has promulgated and enforced its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which inform marketers about the responsible collection and use of data for marketing purposes.
- Consumers have choices. Through DMAchoice consumers can exercise their preferences about the mail they receive. In addition, the AdChoices icon enables consumers to opt out of any or all behavioral advertising.
- Self-regulation is in the best interest of both marketers and consumers. Marketers work daily to serve individuals by delivering relevance and honoring their choices. Abiding by self-regulatory guidelines and using consumer data responsibly helps marketers earn consumers’ trust. In turn, consumers derive the greatest value.
- Self-regulation works. Marketers have responsibly collected and used data for marketing purposes for more than 100 years. Marketers are the best stewards of marketing data out there. They use it responsibly to maintain excellent customer service while honoring individual customer preferences.
|Stephanie Miller is VP of member relations and chief listening officer at the Direct Marketing Association. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue.|