Collaboration is nothing new in marketing. One can hardly think of the Olympics without longtime sponsors such as Coca-cola and Visa, or remember the days when credit cards weren’t co branded with airlines, retailers, automakers and other companies.
But marketers become hesitant when they see “data” in front of “collaboration”. Suddenly, people get nervous about the very idea of using first-party data to collaborate with other teams or companies because they worry that partners might access sensitive information and misuse it, or that the data will become less valuable.
Both are valid concerns that shouldn’t be brushed off, but also shouldn’t be thought of in such stark terms. Increasingly, the brands that have a complete view of their consumers — a feat that can only be achieved through a data strategy that includes collaboration — are the ones poised to succeed by gaining customer intelligence to build long-lasting customer relationships.
Build privacy-conscious data collaborations
Successful data collaborations come from addressing preconceived notions, understanding why they have become myths and championing privacy-conscious ways of working with trusted partners.
Myth 1: Data collaborations with first-party data should be avoided.
First-party data is undoubtedly valuable. It can feel easier to continually keep it under lock and key rather than imagine ways to collaborate with others in a way that preserves privacy and fidelity. For example, it can be challenging to jumpstart data partnerships with a financial services or health care company if you are not in those industries. Doing so requires familiarity with the regulations they must adhere to and the technologies that help can facilitate collaboration in a safe, secure manner.
However, if you continue to not consider data collaboration options in a way that protects privacy, you miss out on shared insights that can drive your business forward. Knowing how your customers prefer to pay can become the cornerstone of significant marketing campaigns, as we saw from Burger King’s holiday promotion with Venmo, whereby the fast food chain sent $1 to select customers via the app.
If you already have partners you trust, an easy place to start conceptualizing how data collaboration could work is by discussing how you might mutually benefit from each other's proprietary data sets. You may also want to speak with a technology vendor who can help support data collaboration in a transparent, secure manner.
Myth 2: My consumers don’t want their data to be used.
This is certainly true of certain consumers who may never understand or accept the use of data in marketing. However, brands should see consumers’ growing awareness of the use of their data as an occasion to rise to, not a challenge to shy away from. The emergence of “privacy actives”, an attractive cohort of mostly younger, affluent digital natives who make purchase decisions based on how companies treat their data, shows that there is value in treating privacy as an open, ongoing dialogue on value exchange that sets a floor for engagement, rather than a ceiling.
For example, if you are a retailer, there’s no harm in asking your audience — even consumers who have been buying from you for years — how they want to interact with your brand. Many will appreciate the agency to selectively opt into marketing, and see these engagements as part of your customer experience rooted in building trust through transparency. Informing consumers of data usage is yet another way to show them that you do not take their attention or loyalty for granted. We can expect the privacy actives cohort to grow as consumers demand more transparency on how their data is used and reward brands that are upfront with their loyalty.
Myth 3: I don’t need data collaboration — I know everything about my audience.
As their acquisition histories reveal, even the tech giants can’t paint a complete picture of their consumers alone. Amazon’s acquisitions of IMDB, Audible and Whole Foods hint at gaps in understanding how people consume media and shop for groceries However, acquisition certainly isn’t the only path to knowing more about audiences.
Formulating a new data strategy to connect your first-party data and safely and securely collaborate with others is becoming a new way for brands to differentiate themselves, better understand consumers’ needs and augment intelligence about shared audiences with trusted partners. With third-party cookies going away and big tech eliminating access, customer intelligence is becoming scarce. If you keep the status quo with your data strategy — same sources, same technology, same silos — you’re only going to know less about audiences you thought you already knew while your business slowly degrades.
New year, new data strategy
As consumers’ needs have changed, so have brands’ abilities to meet them in the moment. Some have been able to move quickly and address new demands, while others did not.
Dismissing data collaboration can only continue to hinder consumer-friendly customer intelligence that fuels agility and therefore, business growth. The companies with the openness to put outdated ideas on data collaboration behind them and forge new partnerships will know their customers better, engage them more successfully and truly own their future.