The Wild West Days of Data May Be Over, But the Opportunities for Marketers Are Just Beginning

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There have been many data privacy incidents over the past five years that have concerned consumers and caused headaches for brands, but the recent Facebook–Cambridge Analytica scandal was unique in that it exposed the sheer volume of consumer data the social media leader and other web giants like it had accumulated. It also made consumers aware about the data they had unknowingly shared.

For years, enterprises have been pushing for more interactions, marketing leads, and clicks, but a significant shift is happening now. New regulations, recent missteps, and heightened awareness have customers demanding a more responsible, personal and private marketing and sales experience. It’s a watershed moment, and companies are struggling to responsibly manage oceans of data. At the same time, they are beginning to realize they need to treat people not as 1s and 0s, but human beings.

This shift—among brands and consumers—represents a fundamental change in mind-set and an end to the “Wild Wild West” days of data collection. With this shift comes new challenges and opportunities for senior marketers from a brand and leadership standpoint. Marketers focusing on just the checkboxes are missing the mark and opportunity to leap beyond compliance to a better customer opportunity. Below are the top considerations for marketers looking to seize the opportunity as we enter this new era of transparent, data-driven marketing.

Stewardship vs. Storage

Enterprises have a data-hoarding problem, amassing mountains of customer and device data that’s often meaningless and not responsibly handled. Up until recently, marketing efforts were so focused on gathering as much data as possible that companies struggled with figuring out how to leverage it for real value once they had it. Now these same enterprises face a far bigger issue—the potential to violate a customer’s trust—by using data the consumer didn’t know was collected; storing data they don’t need; or, worst of all, intentionally or non-intentionally sharing it with a third party. Once a prized possession for marketers, databases of customer data might contain a modern-day Trojan horse that destroys your brand credibility with one click. In this new paradigm, marketers must take ownership of data and ensure all team members act as stewards of customer information. It’s about responsibly delivering the right and remarkable customer experience at the right moment that matters.

Processes and Education

To protect customers, CMOs should ensure that their teams understand what data can be collected, how it should be stored, and the parameters for sharing and with whom. Processes must be put in place to protect customers and their brand, so no one is “trusting their gut” when a decision needs to be made on the fly. (Gone are the days of two cowboys pulling out their revolvers and yelling “Draw!”) Any request for data access or new customer acquisition should be met with clear action and communication. A sophisticated, educated marketing team is critical to ensure the proper consent is granted, the right data is collected, and that secure storage and sharing protocols are in place.

A New Leadership Opportunity

As CMOs take on this new role of data steward and company educator, they also gain a new platform for leadership within their organization. Marketers that step up to the plate at this critical moment to advocate for customers and train their teams will find themselves with a seat at the table with CEOs who are laser-focused on reducing churn and driving customer loyalty. This in turn will result in more cross-collaboration across the organization and create new connections for marketers professionally as their leadership profile grows. Where the explosion of MarTech has taken marketers further from the customer, marketers can bring them back front and center, and this focus and transparency will pay dividends on a personal and career level. By seizing this opportunity, marketers will provide significant value for their organizations, perform at a higher level, inspire loyalty from their teams, and become stronger leaders.

The increased focus on data collection and storage presents many opportunities for marketers and their teams, the last but not least being a return to customer-centric decision making and communications. Marketers that seize this perfect moment in time will find a stepping stone to future business, leadership and career growth. Further, the marketing teams focused on customer experiences rather than quick clicks and conversions will create the customers for life that drive the next million (or billion) dollars in revenue.

As chief marketing officer at Treasure Data, Rob Glickman manages all aspects of marketing, including go-to-market strategy, demand generation, and corporate, product, partner, and industry marketing. A modern and metrics-driven marketer, Glickman has seen first-hand the critical need to unify customer data from multiple silos by creating and maintaining an accurate customer profile. Before joining Treasure Data, Glickman was vice president of audience marketing at SAP, where he led a global team of marketers chartered with driving modern marketing demand generation programs. He brings nearly 20 years of marketing experience ranging from lean start-ups to large enterprises, including running product marketing for Symantec, as well as seven years at eBay where he held various marketing leadership roles globally.

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