How to differentiate yourself from your competitors? The issue is now more critical than ever. In a previous blog article, we talked about Responsive Customer Experience, a new marketing paradigm that should help brands stand out amongst competitors. Nowadays, brands have no choice but to go the extra mile: they must know how to customise, on a large scale and dynamically, all customer interactions according to preferences, behaviours and goals…
After having addressed the potential of the company’s internal repositories, I would like to focus today on the customer consent step. Which, like repositories, is still very much an under-exploited resource.
What do we mean by customer consent?
For years, we heard about the opt-in & opt-out used by companies to collect their customers’ preferences: which communication channels to use (phone, email, etc.) as well as the subscriptions to mailings & newsletters.
For security purposes and to validate the quality of collected email addresses, the double opt-in method emerged a few years back.
Then came the GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, cookie blockers, the example of increasingly heavy fines imposed on GAFAM by various international data protection agencies. And also the famous consent banners displayed as soon as we land on websites, asking us if we agree to our data being collected and used (those banners often mention the term cookies as if everyone knows what they are…).
Consents were initially managed through marketing automation, e-commerce and even CMS (website management) solutions. But now, brands are deploying dedicated solutions in order to collect visitors’ consent and authorise data collection in accordance with data protection agencies’ interpretations and recommendations. These are called consent management platforms (CMP).
The “end” of third-party cookies: 3 key results in digital marketing
To be clear: the significant impact in regard to customer data protection within the information system will not be covered here for the sake of simplicity. We will do so in a future article.
For digital marketing professionals, the three immediate impacts of a substantial drop in the number of their own cookies are obvious:
- Less cookies = less visitor tracking = less ability to assess the performance of their advertising budgets and SEO strategy.
- Less tracking = Less collected data = less ability to monetise their advertising space and visitor data.
- Less customer tracking = less customisation and follow-ups = less performance.
For these professionals who are used to monitoring their activities to the nearest click and cent, in complete autonomy, it is a hard blow. And for many brands, monetisation is not a trivial matter: it is a real source of income, especially for those with heavy traffic, such as the press and large retailers. It is essential therefore that CMPs have the capacity to tackle all these issues. They must be able to:
- Block all cookies or authorise some of them based on consent
- Provide a cookie wall
- Rapidly communicate with SSPs (Selling Side Platforms) to sell advertising spaces in real time
And never mind the fact that the collected consent history must be reliable according to the law (some vendors propose to be a trusted third parties). Customer experience means a unified experience across various points of contact. Customers must be able to access their consent in a simple, quick and consistent manner (if not the exact same manner) from any digital contact point (web, email, chat, social, app, etc.).
If you are dealing with multiple channels, it is preferable to assign consent management to a cross-functional solution such as a CMP rather than to use a form provided by the marketing automation or e-commerce solution. These solutions are not very good at redistributing their data to several other tools/solutions and in fact, you could even end up creating silos if you insist on using them for consent management.
CMPs are dedicated to a key category of contact points
For a long time, we used to evaluate campaign performance and monetise advertising spaces and data with a rough knowledge as following:
- To generate and measure traffic
- To keep previously tracked visitors/customers, and build loyalty
- To analyse and share data
But today, a prior call to action is required: the collection of visitor/customer consent. And call to action means … customer experience. Basically, all CMP solutions must therefore also help:
- To provide efficient, brand-specific customer experience
- To measure and analyse conversion rates (bounces/collections/rejections)
From a technical perspective, this is why we recommend CMPs that include data collection modules and configurable HMIs as well as an API and an SDK so that brands can build their own pages and forms (e.g.: Didomi).
CMP: two other features necessary to establish a relationship of trust
The preference center presented to visitors/customers today should go way beyond consent regarding some cookies and subscriptions. It is the materialisation of the relationship of trust between the brand and the customer with:
- All the data that the customer agrees to share with the brand (zero-party data): consents, communication preferences, subscriptions, tastes, contact details, browsing history… (see what some GAFAM are already doing)
- Administration of this data (request for access, deletion and modification, agreement/request to share with other brands…)
To make this happen, both customer’s choices and requests must be taken into account quickly by the entire IS (marketing, CRM, business, ERP, Data Warehouse, etc.) in order to ensure legal compliance and to benefit customer experience.
For example, if a group markets several brands, the preference center should be able to manage consent for all brands. If the group has several websites, it should be possible to request (global) consent only once and not systematically on each site. If a brand has a large catalog of products and services, the preference center should be able to collect all the themes that interest the customer to better personalise (e-)mailings and newsletters, with a hierarchy of themes and preferences to ensure readability!
Beyond those business processes that must be executed in compliance with the law (which Business & Decision can audit and support), the CMP’s capabilities in terms of distribution and interaction with other business applications must also therefore be technically powerful. Either directly through its own connectors, or indirectly: for example, using a CDP for real-time to digital tools, or through a back office SCV to business applications.
CMPs and Responsive Customer Experience
In the new Responsive Customer Experience paradigm, we believe that the use and content of the preference centre should also be adapted to the customers’ profile and behaviour. For instance:
- The brand could suggest a preference (a consent) to a customer based on her/his behaviour (e.g.: display a widget along the customer’s path, an SMS/RCS (Rich Communication Services, thought to be the successor to SMSs), an email …)
- The brand could use the customer’s profile (purchase history, subscription, years of loyalty, life cycle, etc.) to increasingly fine-tuned customisation
- Consent collection should not be limited to the digital framework. It could be done by phone, in stores or in the field, even in offline mode if necessary! It could also be exported to partner sites/channels if the customer journey justifies it
- Whenever a brand is able to customise an experience, this customisation should be made available in the form of a new preference (preference centre update and information campaign)
- Consent and access to the preferences page should always be easy and consistent, even on new channels (e.g.: connected TV)
- As the preference center ultimately gives access to all or part of the customer data, this data access should be protected through an SSO link with the customer portal if the latter exists, and archived (for legal compliance and analysis)
To shift to Responsive Customer Experience, brands must therefore build their customer capital so they can generalise customisation based on a dialogue of trust, materialised today by CMPs and zero-party data. Data collection, as well as legal compliance and consistent customer experience clearly require fine-tuned management based on KPIs.