Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild Podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life in-the-wild stories about business and marketing.

Hey everyone! So today we are going to be talking about data privacy and personalization. Can they coexist? I’ve been thinking about it today in particular, because I just got off of a summit put on by Meta. Meta is Facebook and Instagram. Now that they’re married, they call themselves Meta. Meta’s Agency Summit. So they put on this event for agencies that are using their tools to develop client work, whether it’s social, ads, et cetera. We do a lot of that. So I went to this agency summit online, and one of the things that they were talking about was their new conversions API. It’s not super new, but it is rolling out, and they’re expanding it to collect data in a lot of different sources, like from your website, from your social media. They even have ways to do it in person if you have a brick and mortar. It’s really fascinating. One of the things that the speaker was talking about was that he wanted to live in a world in which data privacy and personalization could coexist. 

So I’ve been thinking about it, because as consumers, I want my data to be private. Like I get so exhausted by getting mailers from random companies that I don’t care about. And then that’s also why on the flip side, I like personalization. And so as marketers, we’re told all the time, personalize it, make sure you add their first name in your email, things like that. Those are small pieces of marketing personalization. Marketing personalization works, and it works wonders. And it’s because as consumers, when we see things that are personalized, we appreciate it. So a good example for it is a grocery store called Smith’s. It’s from the Kroger family. And I don’t know about you, but if you shop at a Kroger, you might get coupons in the mail if you sign up for their Kroger discounts. 

So we’ve given them our phone number, name, address in order to get discounts. But then guys, it is magic, because every month we get some coupons in the mail and I’m always like, “How did they know that we eat this brand of bacon all the time?” Well, duh, they’re collecting that. And so they give me coupons for the things that I want rather than the random things that I could care less about. That is where personalization and marketing works really well. So when I was thinking about this data privacy personalization conversation, I was thinking about, okay, well, if as consumers we want our data to be private, but we also enjoy, and like, and buy more of when things are personalized, what does that mean for me as a consumer? And then what also does that mean for me as a marketer if I know that people want that? They wanna live in this world where both can coexist. 

Before I keep going, I just feel like I need to point out the elephant in the room, that Meta is one of the biggest offenders, and there are a lot of other companies that are trying to protect consumers from Meta. And so I do wanna acknowledge that. 

I also wanna acknowledge the documentary that came out a few years ago called The Social Dilemma, and I highly recommend it. It created a personal dilemma actually for me, wondering whether I should really be in the social world as a company. But The Social Dilemma talks through the bad side of personalization and data privacy in the sense that it can really affect people who are shopaholics. Like how can shopaholics use social media while trying to curb their shopping addiction if they’re getting shown ads all the time? So those are my two elephants that I wanted to point out because I realized that data privacy is important, but it feels like as a marketer, I’m in this catch 22, like how do I keep people’s data and honor their privacy? But then how else do I create personalization for my success as a business, also my clients, but then also to create a win for those customers that we’re personalizing it for? 

So as I’ve been mulling these things around, I’ve come up with some key stones that I think are like parts of my answer, like, can they coexist? These are my answers of how to make it coexist. For one, Stratos especially, but I think all companies, if you’re collecting data, keep that data, don’t sell it. That’s just like a crappy move to do to your clients. It happens, it sucks. Keep it safe, keep it locked down. Don’t sell it. Make sure people can’t hack into it. That’s the first thing. My second thing is to collect the information that is important to you. You don’t have to have it all. I’ve worked with people who when they’re collecting information about their clients, they have like 12 questions. For one, that’s gonna turn a client off, or a customer off, they’re not gonna answer those 12 questions. Two, do you really need that information? Every time I look through things I’m like, do we really need this? Like, what is the minimum viable amount of questions for the information that I need without going overboard? 

So like for example, one of our clients, he works in the church space, and so when we’re collecting information, he wants their name and their email. Those are the two basic things. Everybody, you should be collecting names and emails so you can include their name when you email them. But then the only other question that he wants to ask is, are they a pastor or a leader, like a paid leader? Are they what’s called a lay leader, like a leader who’s not getting paid, like a volunteer leader? Or are they a parishioner or a congregant or an attendee? That’s how he wants to differentiate. And so we’re gonna be doing that in his actual lead form, but I think that there’s other ways to do it too. And so my first keystone, again, don’t sell your data. Don’t sell the data that people have given to you. Keep it safe. Number two, only ask the minimum viable questions when you are collecting data.Number three, use creative ways to get what you want. 

So here’s a good example. You guys have heard, my husband and I own a photo camper. It’s basically a photo booth inside of a camper, and we primarily take it to weddings, and then we also take it to corporate events. So instead of saying, “Hey, when you download this lead generator, tell us if you’re a bride or if you’re an event planner for your company”, what we have done is we’ve created the same lead generator twice. So it’s seven tips on how to have a trendy party, something like that, like 2024 trends. We have a bridal version of it, and we also have a corporate event version of it. All we’ve done is changed the titles. So we have seven wedding trends for 2024, and then the other one is seven tips on how to make your business event better or something like that. I can’t remember the title. 

But anyway, so now what we know is we have those set up separately, and so when people subscribe, we know automatically these people are interested in a wedding, these people are interested in corporate events. So when the wedding season kicks in high gear, we could start offering discounts to these brides, to the grooms, the people who’ve downloaded the wedding PDF. We also have the event for the corporate people as well. So that’s a creative way to get the information that you need. Hopefully that’s helpful. Another example is even Stratos does it, we have a website worksheet, we have 101 social media prompts, we have all sorts of things. And because of those, we can start telling like, okay, based on what this content is, it is safe to assume that these people are interested in building a website. Why else would they download it? Or my 101 social media prompts, it is safe to say that when people download it, it is a person who is trying to create social media for their company. And so I’m gonna follow that up with our DIY club, et cetera, et cetera. So those are some creative ways. 

So again, quick recap. We are not gonna sell data, we are gonna keep it safe and secure because we are committed to our customers. Number two, we are going to ask for the minimum viable information when we’re collecting data. Number three, we’re gonna even use creative ways to collect the data and segment it post collection. So those are my three keystones, the three ways that I think that as marketers, we can live in a world where data privacy and personalization exists because we’ll have the things that we need to personalize our marketing efforts without a conflict in the privacy, because we also know these people have come to us willingly giving us their email. 

My last thought is for those of us who are consumers, which is everybody, I would say think through who you really wanna give your information to and how long do you want them to have it. I go through these unsubscribe sprees in my email. Sometimes when I’m sitting in front of the tv, I’ll just go through and unsubscribe from the junk that I get. But that’s something that I would encourage us as consumers to think through. Like, Hey, yes, we want our stuff to be private. There is nothing wrong with that. But also, if we go full-fledged privacy, nobody knows anything about us, then we’re going to get ads that are totally off base and not important to us. And so I think that that’s where I come back to as a consumer, is what sort of ads do I wanna see? What sort of ads do I not wanna see? Because if I’m willing to give my information, I need to know and conscientiously know I’m gonna see ads from these people, I wanna get emails from them, and then I have the choice to unsubscribe at any point. 

So I’m gonna wrap it up. Can data privacy and personalization coexist? Possibly, as long as we do it ethically in consideration of our customer. That’s my answer, which I know is such a nuanced answer. But I think that if we don’t do it this way and we don’t do it ethically, carefully, honoring the people that we’re working with, in the long run, it’s gonna do us a disservice. In the short run, we’re gonna gain trust, build trust with our customers. 

So anyway, guys, tune in next week for some more thoughts, hopefully this was helpful. If it was, would you do me a favor and come over to the podcast platform that you’re listening to and give us a review? Those reviews mean the world to me, and I appreciate every single one of them. Bye, guys! Talk to you later!

Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have. If you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and wanna give us a rating or a review, I promise, we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us. 

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. 

Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week, and I hope you will be too.