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2022 Predictions: Data strategy and privacy

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2022 Predictions: Data strategy and privacy


In the year ahead, successful marketers will be using data to initiate more communications while respecting consumers’ privacy. In many cases, one of the most important messages the brand will be communicating is how they are honoring a commitment to privacy.

If a message is of real value to a consumer, however, it will be easy to tell based on the actions that follow from it. In 2022, the deep analytical dive will occur before those messages go out. These data insights will embolden the marketers who wield them, fueling a larger number of precise communications, many of them automated.

Proactive approach

In the new year, it won’t be a question of whether to communicate manually with customers one at a time, or to put your marketing efforts on autopilot. Instead, automation will be a must, and it will be driven by data analytics and AI.

“2022 will require brands to use AI and analytics to acquire insights and learn more about their customers before they even reach out,” said Andy Traba, Director of Product Marketing for cloud-based experience platform NICE CXone. 

Marketers will have to do their homework ahead of time (because, of course, if they don’t, their competitors will). They should be analyzing the data points that tell them what service or product their customer might be looking for and what the preferred channel is to reach out to them.

“[This] will be the driving force for brands to better control the conversation – and have more meaningful interactions outright,” said Traba. “And, in order to build trust, appreciation and loyalty, brands must move away from ‘spamming’ and use more proactive communication to add value. This will mean using automated systems like smart, proactive AI-driven conversational chatbots to guide users through searches and early troubleshooting.”

Team adjustments

This doesn’t mean that communications with customers will be completely automated. Instead, it will be more important than ever to have service reps and other brand personnel at the ready and skilled in using new CX software.

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“Businesses understand the value of a positive customer experience in order to maintain brand loyalty,” said Traba. “Brands will tap into AI and analytics to guide employees during interactions and recommend next-best actions, as well as to automate the more basic tasks so agents can focus on providing better, more empathetic experiences. Brands will invest more in training for front line employees, using AI and analytics to ensure they are well-prepared to resolve even the most complex queries.”

Just as the pandemic became a global force fundamentally changing how customers interact digitally with brands, global forces are also affecting workers at all levels in the org.

“With the pandemic upending labor market dynamics leading Americans to early retirements, career changes and what’s currently known as ‘The Great Resignation,’ brands must evolve in order to hold onto workers in the face of an acute labor shortage,” said Traba.

Using data in real time

In assembling a team of front line customer service professionals and sales staff, brands don’t have to be flying blind. Data on staff interactions with customers, online or in-store, is an important layer that helps deliver better CX and customer messaging. 

And it’ll be in real-time, according to George Shaw, CEO and Founder of Pathr.ai, an AI-powered platform that provides insights into human behavior in physical spaces.

“Real-time human behavior analytics will help retailers achieve higher in-store sales through improved employee training,” Shaw said. “Real-time human behavior analytics in physical locations allows companies to address if staff is interacting effectively with customers. This could include anything from ensuring customers are being helped in a timely manner to making sure the proper number of cash registers are open and employees are focusing their efforts on high-margin items.”

Prioritizing first-party data

Google’s announced deprecation of third-party cookies rocked the boat enough in 2021 that marketers were left scrambling for alternative data sources to keep their future campaigns afloat.

“In 2022, the marketers who depend on third-party data, from cookies and other sources, will need to consider and prepare for the inevitable ‘death of the cookie,’” said Tracey Ryan O’Connor, Group Vice President at personalization technology company Qubit, which was recently acquired by AI-powered experience platform Coveo. “The retailers who prioritize first-party data sources from customer journey data, CRM platforms, POS systems, retail apps, affiliate marketing programs, etc. will be well-positioned. For the brands that use a mix of first-party and third-party data, they will face a myriad of challenges as they lose access to cookie data.”

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Marketers will also find that “renting” data in expensive advertising environments like Facebook is more costly than building your own first-party customer data resources, according to Michael Osborne, President of messaging and notification engine Wunderkind.

“Take advantage of your brand’s own consumer data before turning to rented data (Google, FB Ads, etc), as this can be a more cost-effective and bespoke solution,” said Osborne. “Analyzing your own customers’ shopping habits and implementing it towards a greater purpose is the solution.”

More loyalty

One benefit of a more regulated exchange of data between consumers and marketers is that consumers feel like they will be in more control of their data. This, in turn, might lead to more confidence in sharing data with trusted brands. 2022 will be a pivotal year in this evolution.

“Loyalty programs will be in the 2022 spotlight,” said Nikki Baird, Vice President of Retail Innovation at retail technology provider Aptos. “This new take on loyalty won’t be the pay-for-data schemes of old. A term that we’ll hear more and more is ‘zero-party data.’ This is the information that consumers intentionally share with a retailer.” 

She added, “Armed with this insight into shoppers’ preferences, purchase intentions, and context, optimally, a retailer can deliver a better and more personalized experience. But retailers need to be mindful – when a shopper freely gives you their information, they expect you to put it to good use and provide value in return. 

‘Clean rooms’ and publisher data

Robust loyalty programs of the future will help marketers grow value from existing customers. To acquire new customers, the advertising ecosphere will have to be more data-driven than ever because of rising consumer expectations for relevant ads.

So, in 2022 this balancing act between harder-to-come-by data and relevant ad experiences will become more challenging, and the full value of data collaborations will manifest.

“As we face a cookie-less future, clean rooms will emerge as the answer to providing more advanced analysis around attribution and measurement,” said Libby Morgan, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer for IAB. “Clean rooms are where the walled gardens are able to share aggregated data with advertisers while still adhering to privacy laws and data restrictions. Whether used for transactional audience matching and segment building or for advancements in how data is shared, clean room solutions will continue to grow and mature as true cross-platform opportunities associated with the promise of ‘right ad at the right time’ continue to evolve.”

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“One of the most promising solutions for a cookie-less future lies in publisher first-party data, and in 2022 I believe we will see an increase in its value to buyers,” said Ashley Wheeler, Vice President, Seller Accounts for independent SSP Magnite. “While the true value in publisher first-party data as a replacement to the third-party cookie lies in its ability to scale to the open marketplace, in the near term, I think buyers will start to increase their reliance on publisher first-party data and publishers will lean into first-party data as a key point of differentiation to drive revenue from the open marketplace into private marketplaces.”

“The future of data collaboration will rely on secure, data matching services that can allow agnostic collaboration and not require data to be moved,” said Kristen Williams, Magnite’s Senior Vice President, Strategy Partnerships. “There won’t be one solution that will provide the answers to all of the industry’s identity needs, so tools will need to be able to reach across service providers.”

Proactive accountability

The confidence that successful marketers take into their new data-backed communications with customers in 2022 will give them an edge against competitors. Being proactive about consumer privacy and data transparency will also help establish a trusting relationship that can only add to the marketers’ swagger.

“With all the news about protecting, and being transparent about consumer privacy, it only makes sense for consumers to want more clarity on how their data is being used,” said Shubham A. Mishra, CEO and Co-Founder of Pyxis One, a codeless AI infrastructure company. “More information on what consumers are saying ‘Yes’ to when they click on the ‘I Agree’ button of privacy policies is a huge potential story.”

Just as marketers bring more data into the fold for consumer messaging and staff support, they should expand the conversation around privacy. The more they know about how the customer feels on these issues, the more trust and loyalty they can earn in the coming year.

Read next: 2022 Predictions: Customer Experience & Digital Experience

About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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How To Plan a Content ‘Season’ Like a Hollywood Showrunner

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How To Plan a Content 'Season' Like a Hollywood Showrunner

What should we talk about in our content?

This question plagues many content marketing teams. The brand message might be crystal clear. The products have clear value propositions and differentiators. The marketing team understands its paid media schedule, the agency is working out the creative elements, and the PR team is readying news around new hires, products, and partnerships.

The content team, however, struggles with topics.

Content marketers often approach this by getting a meeting together to brainstorm.

Here’s how that usually goes:

Someone from the demand generation team suggests creating a list of all the questions buyers might ask about the company’s particular approach.

The product marketing manager likes that idea and says, “We could create articles answering those questions and then sprinkle in how we solve those challenges.”

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The brand marketing manager says, “Why don’t we write some posts about our new brand mission and how our products and services are helping solve climate change?” They punctuate their suggestion by throwing a copy of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why onto the table.

The product marketing manager chimes in: “Yes, and we could sprinkle in a bit about how our product solves those challenges.”

“I know,” says someone from PR, “let’s write posts that feature profiles of our executives and their thought leadership in the market.”

The brand marketing manager nods in appreciation. “Yes, great idea. That’s storytelling. It’s got a hero.”

The product marketing manager stands up and says, “I like it. And maybe the executives could talk a little about how our product solves difficult challenges.”

Only the content marketing team sits silently, looking down at their notebooks. They’ve taken exactly zero notes.

The pizza arrives, and the meeting ends. The brand marketing manager says, “I don’t know what you all were so worried about. We’ve got tons of things to talk about.”

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

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Finding the bigger story

I work with content marketing teams for brands all over the world. I’ve noticed that when teams struggle to find a focused editorial direction for their content platform, it’s usually because they haven’t set the foundation for a bigger story.

Without a focused story (or stories), any alternative feels valid. As a result, their blog feels like an ad hoc collection of answers to FAQs. The resource center is a random collection of promotional materials and case studies. Their webinar program is just a catch-all featuring whoever is available to talk about how their product solves things.

I’ve discussed the importance of planning before. But within that planning process description lies the assumption that the relevant teams have met to decide on a bigger story to use as a foundation for planning.

But what if that hasn’t happened yet? How do you go about finding that bigger story?

As it turns out, you can learn a lot from media operations.

An overarching story helps #Content end the struggle to find editorial direction, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

What TV showrunners know

Television series are created by teams representing all aspects of producing great content. There are writers, directors, actors, editors, production specialists, and so on.

Similarly, multiple teams come together when a brand’s content marketing team embarks on a thought leadership program or content marketing initiative. These teams also rely on diverse experts: writers, designers, subject matter experts, and others.

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Both teams face similar problems. This chaotic, creative process requires participation from many different groups.

How do you align all those disciplines and develop a cohesive story?

The question in Hollywood: “What’s the story?”

The question in content marketing: “What’s the story?”

Here is an approach that I’ve seen work in both situations.

Find the story – then plan it out over a season

The first thing I advise content marketing teams to do is this: Find the focus for a story they want to tell over a specific period on specific platforms.

I’ve talked before about the approach of using your brand story to find your content stories and even rebooting your story from content you’ve written before.

But another (often overlooked) aspect of this first step is to plan how your story will play out over time.

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Hollywood showrunners do this by bringing all the writers together to generate ideas about episodes and character development arcs.

Content marketers can learn from this. Why not bring the team together to plan out a bunch of ideas that would help you tell a complete story?

Think of it like planning out an entire season of content. For example, you might theme your editorial strategy for the coming quarter, build it around a curriculum, or even align it to the seasonal calendar.

With this approach, you’ll end up with more than a list of titles of articles, posts, or assets to create. You’ll have planned different chapters (or episodes) of a broader story that may end up as many kinds of digital assets for different platforms.

Think of #content planning like plotting out an entire TV show season, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Outline the chapters – then create your packages

The next step for showrunners is to create outlines of the episodes that make up the show’s season. These detailed story outlines help the other professionals understand when things like specific locales, guest actors, or bigger budgets may be necessary.

In content marketing, outlining your story’s upcoming chapters can help you decide which formats would work best. For example, you may decide that for the initial “episode,” you want to create an article and a blog post. But you want to combine the second episode with a white paper, a webinar, and a blog post.

Deciding on these packages separates the content development from the digital assets you’ll package them into. Creators get a heads-up that they’ll need to write the content for the various interfaces selected to optimize accordingly. Designers will have a complete portfolio of content that they can use to create all the assets needed.

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Planning at this level of detail enables the true benefits of a content calendar. All the teams can see plans for the story to unfold and all the different platforms where it will be told. They may start to see that the content season will meet their needs – reducing the demand for ad hoc assets.

Planning a full season of #Content lets internal teams see how the story will meet their needs, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Create the content ­– not necessarily the assets

In the next stage, Hollywood showrunners assign the writing for the various episodes. All the writers know the story and the outlines for upcoming episodes so that the showrunner can choose the optimal writer for each episode.

A content marketing team might assign the first couple of episodes to one writing team, then assign another team to take up the project for episode three.

Think of it like this: If you’ve mapped out your entire story, you and the team know what’s coming. You can work on the chapters simultaneously, knowing that things can change if needed. More importantly, this approach lets you work ahead instead of constantly chasing deadlines.

The key here is to write the content, not necessarily the digital assets. The goal is to have the stories created well ahead of the deadlines in your story schedule. For example, one successful content marketing team I’ve worked with makes a “content digest” for each of their episodes. This single document includes all the written content for all the places it will live (e.g., promotional ads, blog posts, social posts, long-form articles, etc.) and a creative brief for all the asset elements the content will be packaged into. Once the content reaches production, the creative team creates all the design containers simultaneously.

Approaching content separately from production means you may have 10 or more episodes ready to go before the first one even publishes. This lets you adjust the production schedule as you learn from each episode as it rolls out. If episode 1 goes exceedingly well, for example, you can make changes to episode 6.  You’ve seen this in action with your favorite series. A character becomes a fan favorite in episode 1 – and suddenly has much more screen time by episode 5.

Additionally, it’s a much more efficient process. You know episode 3 (which is already written) will need a thought leadership paper, a webinar, and a blog post. Fantastic. Now, you know how to help the production team schedule their efforts. And, you have the room to change if the first webinar is so successful that you want to add more.

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One story to rule (out) them all

Setting the bigger story in place and working the plan through cross-functional teams does more than give you production efficiency. It also provides focus. You can weigh any proposed idea against something important: the bigger story.

So, when that inevitable “Yes, and can we sprinkle in a little more about how our product solves that challenge” comment comes in?

You can look down at your copious notes and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not part of this particular story.”

Remember, it’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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