Great Data, Great Responsibility: How SMBs Can Improve Transparent Marketing Practices

Marketing Technology Plan and Transparent Data for SMB

Customer data is essential for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to better understand customer needs and how they interact with the brand. In a highly competitive world, businesses can stand out by leveraging data to create more impactful, personalized experiences for their customers.

The foundation of an effective customer data strategy is customer trust. And with the growing expectation for more transparent marketing from consumers and regulators, there’s no better time to take a look at how you’re using customer data and how to improve marketing practices that cultivate credibility and customer trust.

Regulations are driving more aggressive data protection rules

States such as California, Colorado, and Virginia have implemented their own privacy policies for how businesses can collect and use customer data. Outside the U.S., China’s Personal Information Protection Law and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation both place restrictions on how citizens’ personal data can be processed.

Additionally, major tech players have announced changes to their own data tracking practices. In the next two years, third-party cookies will become obsolete on Google Chrome, a move following other browsers like Safari and Firefox that have already begun blocking third-party tracking cookies. Apple has also started placing restrictions on personal data collected in apps.

Consumer expectations are shifting as well.

76% of consumers are somewhat or extremely concerned about how companies collect and use their personal data. What’s more, 59% of consumers say they’d rather give up personalized experiences (e.g., ads, recommendations, etc.) than to have their digital activity tracked by brands.

Gartner, Data Privacy Best Practices: How to Ask Customers for Information During the Pandemic

Personalized Experiences and Data Tracking

In the future, we can expect more restrictions to protect personal data. These factors point to the need to re-evaluate marketing practices to ensure they are in accordance with government policies but also reflect a changing industry and consumer expectations.

The good news is that customer data protection is already a business priority for many SMBs.

55% of surveyed SMBs in the U.S. rate data and information security technology as critical for their business operations, indicating the concern to protect customer data. (See the bottom of the page for the survey methodology.)

GetApp’s 2021 Top Technology Trends Survey

How is your business communicating your data practices to customers? In this next section, we’ll cover best practices for transparent marketing that help strengthen customer relationships through trust.

Tools and tips to improve transparent marketing practices

Here are a few steps marketers can take and tools to implement that can help improve transparent marketing practices.

  1. Give customers more control – First and foremost, it’s important to give customers flexibility over how their data is being collected and used. This includes offering opt-in and out-out options for customers sharing personal data. Lead generation software can be a useful tool by allowing you to create website forms that transparently collect customer data.
  2. Clearly communicate how customer data is protected – Be explicit about how you’re collecting and using customer data. Explain to customers the actions you’re taking to protect their data or if any changes are being made to how it’s being safeguarded. You can do this by using an all-in-one marketing tool to coordinate messaging about customer data protection and usage across multiple outreach channels.
  3. Offer real value in exchange for data – Consumers say they’re enticed by monetary rewards in exchange for their personal data. Consider offering a tangible benefit to customers in exchange for their data. Survey software is a great way to explicitly ask for and collect data in exchange for a monetary reward.

53% of consumers are willing to share their personal data in exchange for cash rewards and 42% for free products or services, respectively. Another 34% say they’d share personal data in exchange for discounts or coupons.

Gartner, Data Privacy Best Practices: How to Ask Customers for Information During the Pandemic

  1. Be responsive – Acknowledging customer requests or concerns quickly and transparently will help build trust, a key step for a positive customer experience. Tools that offer marketing automation, personalization, social media, email, and chat functions can help your business efficiently and consistently respond to customers.
  2. Ask for feedback – Feedback is a gift! Gauge how your marketing tactics are performing by going straight to the source—your customers. Gathering regular feedback allows marketing teams to adjust strategies as needed. A market research tool can help you collect and analyze data when surveying your customers.

Ensure you’ve got a plan for your tech

As I shared above, there are many ways to leverage tools to support transparent marketing practices, but simply having the technology isn’t enough. In GetApp’s 2021 Marketing Trends Survey:

41% of startups say they haven’t developed a plan for their marketing technology. What’s more, startups that don’t have a plan for marketing technology are more than four times as likely to say their marketing technology does not meet their business objectives.

GetApp’s 2021 Marketing Trends Survey

Your business may be interested in or currently using several types of software to collect data and communicate data practices with customers. To make the most of the technology and ensure its effectiveness, it’s important to create a marketing technology plan and follow it.

5 Steps for Marketing Tech Plan

When it comes to honest and transparent marketing, there’s a lot at stake—credibility, customer trust, and loyalty. These tips are a starting point to prepare for the changing landscape in data protection while strengthening relationships with customers.

Visit GetApp for software reviews and expert insights to help you make informed strategic decisions.

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Survey Methodologies

GetApp’s 2021 Top Technology Trends Survey was conducted from August through September 2021, among 548 respondents across the U.S., to identify technology needs, challenges, and trends for small businesses. Respondents were required to be involved in the technology purchasing decisions at companies with 2 to 500 employees and hold a manager-level position or above in the company.

GetApp’s Marketing Trends Survey was conducted in April 2021 among 455 U.S.-based respondents to learn more about marketing and technology trends. Respondents were screened for decision-making roles in sales, marketing, or customer service at companies with 2 to 250 employees.