The increased digitisation of almost every element of our lives is a legacy of the COVID pandemic, and with that comes a huge increase in shared personal data.

Whether you’re verging on computer illiteracy or at the cutting edge of digital tech, your personal data will be out there somewhere. Analysing and selling this data is profitable, and, as we’ve increasingly seen over the last few years, data hacks and breaches are a worryingly common event.

However, as consumers begin to better understand exactly how much of their data is out there, and why this might not be ideal, data protection has fast become a priority in the digital world. Let’s take a look at some of the emerging battlefields when it comes to protecting personal data and how digital marketing needs to adapt to support them.

The impact of data privacy on digital marketing in the post-pandemic world

Issue: Users don’t want to be tracked by search engines

Those concerned about exactly how much of their data Google is tracking (spoiler alert: it’s loads) might look to alternative search engines that take a more ethical approach. The stand-out champion of ethical data handling, and a model for businesses everywhere, is DuckDuckGo.

They make a simple and elegant promise. Your personal data will never be stored, and you will never, ever be tracked around the internet.

Like all search engines, they make their money from paid ads, but DuckDuckGo pride themselves on only showing ads that are relevant to a user’s current search. No previous history, and no creepy ads giving unwelcome chase. It’s little wonder users are flocking (sorry, couldn’t help myself) to them.

Herein lies a problem for digital marketers. With little underlying data to work on it can be very difficult to ensure that our target audience sees our content or ads.

Solution: Focus on quality content

By not being able to target content or ads to a certain demographic, untracked search engines like DuckDuckGo present the challenge of creating high-quality content with top-tier SEO. For adverts, marketers need to craft copy with broader appeal to capture the attention of more than a very narrow demographic.

While this might be a struggle, it gives marketers the chance to stretch their creative muscles and try something new, instead of just cheekily bidding on competitors’ branded keywords.

Issue: Users are distrusting of targeted ads

A large part of the monetisation of personal data comes in the form of personalised ads. We’ve all had that jarring experience of searching for a product and then seeing ads for it for the next six months.

To restrict the reach of targeted marketing and any associated nefarious schemes, users are choosing to use ad blockers, make stricter choices when accepting cookies, and even using a VPN to mask their location. However, this data is essential for marketers, who need to come up with new ways to encourage users to hand over this important information.

Solution: Encourage users to share their data

Gener8 Ads is a British start-up that has taken this idea and run with it, giving users full control over their (anonymised) data while also offering an incentive that doesn’t alienate marketers. By simply installing a free browser, Gener8 users have the option to enter ‘privacy mode’, which stops companies from tracking them at all, or ‘rewards mode’, which allows them to earn points from any ad they see and redeem them for products, vouchers or charity donations. It’s a stroke of genius, and they’ve already got dragons on board.

This is a great example of how we can support users’ desire to better control their online privacy, while also making the lives of digital marketers easier. By weighing up the perceived value of their data versus the reward gained by sharing it, marketers can leverage downloadable guides, rewards programmes, discount codes and more to obtain useful data while giving users something beneficial in exchange. Win win.

The impact of data privacy on digital marketing in the post-pandemic world

Issue: Users are suspicious of unsolicited emails

Email use is practically universal for those of us with any online presence. We rely on it for a huge percentage of our general correspondence, especially with the prevalence of online shopping. Email is the go-to medium for the world at large to contact us, meaning inboxes full of spam are commonplace.

Unfortunately, the ease with which emails can be sent to vast numbers of people makes it an extremely useful tool for those with nefarious intentions, and messages containing phishing scams and viruses have become an almost unavoidable experience for email users.

Over the years, email accounts also gather an extraordinary amount of data. If that account were to get into the wrong hands, no end of problems could ensue. All of this is starting to make consumers a little distrusting of anything that drops in their inbox.

Yet again, innovative businesses are beginning to fight back and return data control to the user. Email providers now tend to offer a vast array of helpful measures, including ad-blocking, spam filters, tracker blocking, encryption, multi-layered login and loads more tools to help keep confidential correspondence confidential.

Solution: Step back, and look at the bigger picture

As marketers, we must be respectful of our audience’s choices in data sharing. While we may receive less hard data on the success of our email campaigns, it doesn’t mean we should simply give up and stop sending them.

Consider switching to integrated brand metrics, focusing less on the minute detail of campaign performance, and more on the larger pictures such as ROI and overall ad spend. By creating more targeted email campaigns, such as for a specific product or service, your website analytics, sales and enquiries should give you at least some insight into the performance of your email marketing efforts.

Digital marketing & data privacy

The future holds massive changes for the landscape of digital marketing, and they’re already well underway. The pandemic taught us to adapt our business strategies to survive, and we must continue to do so as the COVID legacy persists.

If you’re struggling to keep pace with the changes to digital marketing then DWH can help. Contact us today to discuss all of your branding and marketing needs.