Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How data and compliance can unlock the door to marketing success

By Darshan Shankavaram, Leader of Global Digital Customer Experience Practice at Capgemini

When digital marketing was still in its infancy, customers happily handed over data in exchange for some personalized services to improve their lives. However, bombarded by irrelevant and incessant ads, concerned by data leaks, and more aware of privacy regulations, many people soon felt they may have given away too much, too easily.

Our research suggests that 40% of customers would increase their online spend if they received certain assurances around data privacy and cybersecurity[i]. That means compliance is more than just a necessity – it’s an asset. Yet for marketers who want to focus on the creative aspects of a campaign in an attempt to make it more relevant and personalized, evolving and inconsistent regulatory and compliance standards can be a challenge.

Therefore, rather than getting to grips with compliance, we still see many Chief Marketing Officers (CMO)s allocating budget to pay non-compliance fines instead of investing in a compliant and data-driven marketing strategy that makes their customers happy and gain their trust. But, will that help customer loyalty? Learning that a brand’s approach to data privacy is to throw money at non-compliance penalties is hardly going to increase consumer trust. The ultimate penalty will certainly be heftier than a fine – lasting reputational damage and, potentially, threat to business continuity.

Uncovering the hidden opportunity

With greater access than ever to huge volumes of data, emerging technology and channels, there are multiple opportunities to engage with customers and reimagine their journeys. Customers care about their privacy, and they want to know how and why their data is being used. This is a great opportunity for marketers to build trust and make privacy both a brand differentiator and agrowth enabler.

CMOs should organize data and processes to embed privacy-by design in the customer journey, understand their customer needs and target engagement in a way that addresses privacy concerns.

Unlocking the value of data for its customers

While increasing amounts of customer-related data and channels should result in better insights and customer loyalty, this isn’t always the case. Marketers have been busy developing cross-device products and services like chatbots and AI-powered interactions, yet research suggests that only 30% of the data provided is actually collected[1].

CMOs need to take a firm lead, keeping up with new channels and championing change rather than seeing it as disruption. It is up to them to establish shared goals and advocate for the customer within the company – embedding data and compliance along the way. Of course, this is easier said than done, and there are certain hurdles to overcome in the process:

  • An ever-changing business landscape: Adapting to change requires collaboration between many moving parts. From ensuring a robust understanding of current governance and compliance principles, to aligning with internal and external stakeholders on key priorities, the CMO must be the one providing continuity.
  • Disrupted customer data: Without a full understanding of all touchpoints, preferences, and permissions linked to a customer, important data can be missed or its relevance can fail to be recognized. In addition, the quality of the data itself must be closely monitored to build truly personalized products and services while remaining compliant.
  • Ethics and regulation: The wide range of global data regulations requires a constantly adapted marketing operational model. This may rely on a mature data privacy strategy and governance, with different regulatory environments being considered. CMOs must understand the impact that different geographies have on their marketing strategy, and ensure products and services are compliant. For data to be considered ethical, the purpose for its collection must be clear and transparent.

Investing in the data and compliance goldmine

When implementing data-driven solutions, marketers must focus on the three pillars of customer needs: transparency, accountability, and empowerment. The simplest way to gain consumer trust is to be open and honest about data use – ensure internal transparency of customer data and promote data transparency in a way that your customers will see and understand.

When it comes to data, consent is fundamental. Ensure compliance by only addressing those customers who give their consent and want to be included in marketing activities. Customers who see that they are being treated fairly, with their rights being taken seriously, will view your brand in a positive light. Lastly, there is much to be gained by placing control back in customers’ hands. Through the likes of self-service portals, customers feel more empowered, knowing they can manage the data given to a company and their consent to use it.

Ultimately, the goal is creating a context in which a customer provides the necessary data of their own initiative. When this is achieved, the marketing possibilities are endless, can be truly personalized and most importantly – compliant.


[1] “Only 30% of marketers collect data across all channels,” Clément Fages. June 3, 2020


[i] “Cybersecurity: The New Source of Competitive Advantage for Retailers.” Capgemini Research Institute, May 2018.

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