With the online world and mobile technology becoming increasingly large parts of people’s lives, it’s never been easier to connect with new customers.
But people don’t just want to connect with the companies and brands they buy from anymore. They want to build actual relationships that feel intimate and personal.
Data and digital marketing have been a massive part of how marketing professionals have helped that happen.
It’s made it possible to learn about customers in record time and really reach them where they live.
However, today’s consumers are increasingly concerned with how much of their personal data marketers have in the first place, as well as with how it’s used.
Taking a more transparent approach to digital marketing is the key to striking the right balance between effective advertising tactics and respect for your customers’ privacy.
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know to upgrade your marketing campaigns so that they’re fully in step with this significant emerging trend.
What is Transparent Digital Marketing?
Spider-Man’s own Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
That’s just as true in the world of digital marketing as it is in any other. Information is power, and saying that modern marketing professionals have a wealth of sensitive information at their fingertips these days is an absolute understatement.
The average marketer knows just about everything they could want to know about their existing and potential customers.
They certainly know all the basics, including:
- Where people live.
- What they do for a living.
- Their age demographic
- What types of online content they’re most interested in.
However, it’s also easy enough to use collected data to infer even more things about any consumer, including their personality type or most deeply held fears.
In some ways, marketers may know even more about consumers than those same consumers understand about themselves.
And the more someone knows about you, the greater the potential they could use what they know to take advantage of you.
Modern consumers fully understand this potential is there, and they need to know they can trust you to be responsible with it.
That’s where transparency comes in.
Transparent digital marketing does away with secrecy and any possibility of deceit in favor of being upfront with people and allowing them a look behind the curtain when it makes sense.
When your customers feel like they truly know what information you have and how it’s used, they also feel they can trust you. That’s when everyone wins.
Why is Transparency in Digital Marketing Important?
With the whole of the world’s information at their fingertips, it’s safe to say that the modern consumer is an informed consumer.
They’re used to knowing what they want to know when they want to know it, and they expect that same level of understanding about the companies they buy from.
Yes, they want to know what you put in your products and how they’re manufactured. But they also want to know what your company values are and whether you’re running an ethical business.
And when it comes to digital marketing, they certainly want to know whether their personal data is safe with you.
Adopting a transparent approach gives your customers what they want and expect from you. It also benefits your company in some powerful ways.
Here are a few examples.
Transparency shows you can be trusted
In a world where many people feel almost hyper-connected at times, there are so many ways information could be misused or fall into the wrong hands.
Data breaches are a genuine concern, but so is the possibility of one’s information being sold or shared with unauthorized third parties.
But when a brand is transparent about its marketing practices and data uses, it shows its customers that it can be trusted.
They don’t care to hide anything because there’s nothing to hide in the first place.
And the greater the history a brand has with transparent marketing practices, the better its reputation and the higher the rates of customer trust.
Transparency keeps customers loyal
Your customers don’t want to buy their products and services from a bunch of random businesses.
Instead, they want to build lasting relationships with one company that cares about meeting their expectations and retaining their business.
Transparent digital marketing assures your customer that they’re part of your inner circle and sends the message that you’re serious about growing with them.
And an additional 75 percent of those consumers said they’d happily pay more for services and products that come from fully transparent companies.
Bringing your customers on board with your digital marketing practices makes them feel valued and shows you genuinely care about your role in their lives.
Transparency contributes to a stellar reputation
It’s no longer enough for a company to put fantastic products and services out there that do what they promise to do.
People want to buy from brands that value integrity, meaning they act with honesty and consistency even when no one is looking or actively holding them accountable.
This is especially important when it comes to customers’ sensitive data and personal information.
Being forthcoming with important information supports a solid brand reputation, as does inviting consumers to ask any additional questions they might have.
It shows that not only are you eager to keep your clientele in the loop but that your door is always open should they need anything additional from you.
Embracing transparency may improve the overall morale of your team, as well.
People don’t just prefer to buy from honest, forthright companies they feel they can trust. They want to work for them, as well.
A happy team will reinforce your marketing efforts by sharing their high opinion of your company with your customers.
How Transparent Should a Brand Truly Be About Data Usage?
The push toward a more transparent approach to digital marketing may be a hot topic these days, but it’s not entirely new.
In 2016, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed. It then officially went into effect in 2018, replacing the long outmoded 1995 Data Protection Directive.
The GDPR formally established newer, stricter minimum standards to which websites must comply regarding the use and storage of their visitors’ personal data.
Personal data is defined as any information that can be used to discover a particular person’s identity.
This information can either be freely given, inferred, or collected via other means.
Some key examples that fall under the umbrella of personal include:
- Date of birth
- Email address, IP address, or physical location
- Ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender
- Spiritual or political beliefs
- Photos, videos, and similar media
Under the GDPR, visitors to governed websites are granted specific rights.
For instance, they can demand that the website tell them what information is saved, why it’s being saved, and how it may be used.
They also have the right to demand access to the information, as well as to facilitate the transfer of that information to a third party of their choice.
In addition, they can request that their information be corrected and erased, as well as command the website to stop processing it in the first place.
In other words, your customers already have the right to know quite a bit about how your website, brand, and marketing teams use their data.
But smart businesses don’t wait for people to demand this information.
Instead, they rise to the occasion and weave transparency into their business and marketing practices willingly, setting themselves apart from their competition in some pretty powerful ways.
How Can You Integrate Transparency into Your Marketing Strategy?
Successful businesses are experts at not only meeting their own marketing objectives but at giving their customers what they really want.
Today’s customers want transparency, and 86 percent of them say a lack of it is enough to drive them away from one company and toward another.
Here’s how to be more transparent in your digital marketing practices.
1. Make information (and assistance) accessible
Let your customers see your business’s human side, both on social media and through your marketing materials.
Present your brand as a trusted friend that’s always there for its customers.
Then follow up by making important information about your products, company process, and marketing practices easily accessible to people who want it.
This leaves much less room for misunderstanding.
You’ll also want to give your customers a way to open up a dialogue with you if they have unique questions or concerns they can’t find the answers to.
Respond to requests for information candidly, quickly, and graciously. Take special care to address concerns from customers who may be unsatisfied or skeptical, as well.
A little communication is often all it takes to prevent a bad review or negative word-of-mouth.
2. Own up to mistakes and make them right
How an individual or company responds to a mistake or misstep is everything regarding customer loyalty.
Never attempt to cover up a problem, mislead your customers about what happened, or transfer the blame to someone else.
Instead, be proactive about the situation and keep your customers in the loop.
Own up to what happened and admit any fault that might be yours in the situation. Then act to rectify the situation.
Let your customers know what you’re doing to make things right.
Again, consumers appreciate companies that operate with integrity and aren’t afraid to be honest. Mistakes can easily be turned into opportunities to boost customer loyalty and fortify essential relationships.
3. Utilize and share analytics
If your company is like most, you leverage analytics and use tracking data to bolster the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Take things one step further and share that data with your customers.
Give them a chance to be part of your efforts by sharing your strategies and using your data to show their effectiveness.
Today’s customers are interested in how the businesses they buy from manage their operations, and most would welcome a chance to see how you really do things.
Allowing yours to have that opportunity is a great way to win trust, generate additional interest in your brand, and leave much less room for miscommunication in the future.
4. Allow your customers to opt-in
Never simply take your customers’ data or personal information.
Instead, always allow them to opt-in when it comes to accepting cookies, sharing their browsing data, and so forth. (Apple’s new opt-in approach to app tracking is an excellent example of this in action.)
You’ll find many customers have much less of a problem sharing their data when you simply ask them nicely for it.
Choose the wording of your opt-in messages carefully. Be polite, gracious, friendly, and accommodating. Make it sound like they’re opting into a sought-after inner circle.
A little friendliness really does go a long way when it comes to people’s willingness to oblige.
5. Maintain an active social media presence
The more active your company is on top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, the more relatable and accessible you’ll appear to your valued customers.
In addition to using your feed to share promotions, company news, and current industry trends, make sure you’re giving your audience insights into your business processes and marketing efforts.
Social media is a powerful way to make customers feel like they’re truly part of what your company stands for, so make the most of it.
Engage with customers or curious consumers who comment on your posts.
Listen to their feedback, and respond with promptness and courtesy.
An active social media presence lets people know your company is available and interested in their concerns.
Wrap Up: The Marketing Strategies of the Future Put People First
Data is at the center of any effective marketing strategy, but transparency as to how that data is collected and used is the key to preserving your customers’ trust.
Now that you know a bit about how that transparency can be leveraged to make your marketing strategies more customer-friendly moving forward, it’s time to take the next step.
Learn more about how to build a stellar human-first data experience here!