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Why You Need to Think About Online Privacy & Marketing Now

P-R-I-V-A-C-Y. We believe that increasing online privacy is a trend that will continue in 2022 and beyond. What does that mean online and on social media? Are online platforms finally respecting information about their users? As a marketer or small business owner, what can you do to continue building relationships with your current and potential customers while respecting their privacy? We go more in-depth into this trend here.

First, here's some background information about online privacy. Click here if you're already familiar and just want to get to solutions.

One of the most significant moments that led to this discussion is that tech companies allowed countless amounts of misinformation online, leading to today's current polarization and decisions based on outrage. Even though social media offers many positive solutions, helps local businesses and nonprofits find customers, and connects people in unprecedented ways, they are also hot spots for disinformation. For example, Facebook's mission statement says they "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." Facebook also deploys various strategies to keep people on their platform for as long as possible. They amplify emotionally-charged content and voices according to each user's beliefs, opinions, and biases (Kyl, 2018). Furthermore, Facebook is committed to "making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas," whether they are based on information that may or may not be accurate.

Facebook, Google, and other media giants have also abused netizens' personal information by using cookies to track their activities without seeking proper consent. At the same time, cookies can be essential for a website's functioning—allowing for user authentication and remembering preferences, among other things—used to track a user's online behavior and serve them advertising (Forbes). The danger lies in the numerous possibilities of having cookies hijacked by bad actors seeking to track browsing histories.

These business practices encouraged the quick spread of disinformation, polarization, and civil unrest, leading many people to ask: how do media giants respect people's privacy while also keeping their service free to users through advertising?

Facebook (Meta) recently launched a new 'Privacy Center' to control their privacy and data-sharing options. Although, it will come to desktop users first and then eventually mobile app users. Meta's Facebook Privacy Center will "educate people on their privacy options and make it easier to understand how we collect and use information." As Meta expands Facebook's Privacy Center, they will add more ways to access it in places where you may have privacy concerns.

Another Media giant that will contribute to regaining online privacy is Google. Last year, Google announced that they plan to replace third-party cookies with more privacy-conscious technologies, a project delayed until late 2022, with a cookieless world as the end-goal by 2023.

This means it will become more challenging to accurately track marketing KPIs and what digital marketing activity leads to conversions (i.e., sales, email opt-ins) is working.

What can marketers and business owners do to create effective online marketing strategies?

At its core, customer relationship management (CRM) is all of the activities, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage their interactions with their current and potential customers (Forbes). Customer retention is a valuable long-term solution for increased revenue and sustainable growth, but it's not always easy to cultivate that kind of loyalty (Hubspot). If you don't have a customer relationship management (CRM) and retention strategy, create and invest in them now.

Although this is an expensive investment, your data is one of the most important assets in your business. If you don't already have CRM software, get it now. If you already have one, invest in data hygiene and create systems to ensure that the data you enter is clean, segmented into customer profile or past purchase behavior, and easy to pull.

In the coming years, gather contact information for your potential, current, and lapsed customers and ask them for permission to contact them through email, direct mail, text messages, and more. Carefully segment them into lists according to their purchasing behavior, demographics, and more.

Once this is in place, it's much easier to coordinate sending well-timed, high-quality, and relevant information about your products and services to your people through email, direct mail, text messages, and more, in addition to social media.

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