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Guarantee trust by handing privacy power back to the consumer

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Today’s data collection and user privacy landscape is a minefield. But it also provides important business advantages for brands and companies to address privacy concerns head-on and establish a foundation of trust with their loyal customer base.

Understanding how customers perceive your company’s data practices in this complicated landscape will help you develop the transparent strategies to build the trust you need moving forward.

A new paradigm for privacy in today’s world

Gone are the days of total privacy when it comes to personal data. Every time you walk out the door, you encounter situations where you’re willingly giving personal information away — when you buy a coffee on the way to work, as you pump gas, or listen to the new song you downloaded onto your Spotify playlist.

These seemingly innocuous actions all pile up together and morph into a personalized, digital persona that helps inform how brands and companies speak and interact with each and every consumer. The majority of people may hate this, but let’s be clear: Everyone signed up for it. Time and time again.

How often have you nonchalantly scrolled through a Terms of Service page only to click “accept” without reading anything at all? How many times have you searched for something on Google, whether to find the nearest grocery store or to look up the cheapest flights for an upcoming vacation? As a consumer society, we’ve granted companies the power to take first-party data, and zero-party data, and all kinds of information whenever they so choose, just by living our day-to-day lives.

The privacy paradox

By now, you’d assume people would be comfortable with giving up their personal data in exchange for the assurance of daily conveniences. However, a recent report shows that only 40% of users trust brands to use their personal data responsibly.

This juxtaposition — when consumers continue to give their personal data away but still don’t trust brands to act responsibly with that information — is called the “privacy paradox.” It sums up most touchpoints we have when interacting with brands and companies.

First used as a term in 2001, the privacy paradox is a dichotomy in how a person intends to protect their online privacy versus how they actually behave online, ultimately not protecting their information. This is usually because of an unwillingness to break convenient habits or behaviors. For instance, taking the required time to read the Terms of Service before downloading an app or signing up for a user platform.

While data privacy has always been a top consumer concern, in recent years it’s become an increasingly high priority with major tech companies like Apple, Google, and others receiving intense pressure to heighten security regulations for personal data use. This has led to recent privacy updates that allow users to opt out of tracking and limit the amount of information brands and companies can now obtain. 

According to a McKinsey survey, one in 10 internet users worldwide (and three in 10 U.S. users) deploys ad-blocking software to prevent companies from tracking online activity. 87% of consumers say they would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices, and 71% said they would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission.

Consumers are increasingly buying products and services only from brands and companies they trust and believe are both protecting their personal data while also using it to connect with them through hyper personalized and engaging touchpoints.

Read next: Build trust, gain sales

Lead with first-party data transparency

First-party data is perhaps the most simple and ultimately effective personal data to collect from users. This data is information companies collect from consumers through owned digital channels. Examples of first-party data include survey data, purchase history, website activity, email engagement, sales interactions, support calls, customer feedback programs, interests, and general behavior in owned digital channels.

What makes first-party data such an opportune marketing tool is that consumers have willingly given brands this personal data. This makes it reliable and future-proof as long as people have consented for their data to be used by marketers to make contact and engage.

With this information captured, it’s imperative for brands and companies to ensure points of contact with users are effective, personalized, and clearly define how and when their data will be used for their personal benefit. Effective methods include an email or text communication that clearly state a person’s information will be kept private and not sold to a third-party; or that a user can easily choose to opt out of communications with a simple click or two.

Consumers respect brands and companies that emphasize an individual’s right to opt out of sharing data, so offering an easy-to-use consumer data opt-out feature, and being very clear about your intended use of their data, is key to establishing a baseline foundation of trust for future engagement.

Give power back to the consumer

According to the Cisco 2021 Consumer Privacy Survey (2,600 anonymous responses across 12 countries), nearly half of respondents feel they are unable to protect their personal data. They cited that the main reason is that companies aren’t being clear about how they are using peoples’ personal data. As a result, one-third have become “Privacy Actives” and stopped interacting or doing business with traditional companies like retail stores, banks and credit card companies. In addition, 25% have made inquiries to organizations about their data and 17% have requested changes or deletions to this data.

The customer should always come before the data — no exceptions. Smart brands and companies will view privacy and respect for customer data as a potential differentiator rather than a barrier to entry. In addition to the tactics described above to help brands and companies be more candid and open with users, there are also important tactics that are easily implemented to continue building trust and to empower consumers to have a say in the conversation about their own data privacy.

First, every company should proactively send out quarterly or annual user data privacy reports that specifically outline how customer data is being used, as well as the safeguards being implemented to protect that data from potential data leaks or hacks. The company should also provide additional levels of assurance of how information is being used to line up with ever-evolving customer comfort levels.

Additionally, the way in which you provide this type of informative, personalized information is key to whether a consumer will choose to react positively or negatively. A post from Statista shows that 97% of people between 18 and 34 accept conditions without reading them. Additionally, the time needed to read through terms of service agreements for today’s leading online services and platforms can be more than an hour. While consumers should be reading the fine print, it’s clear the majority fail to do so — but still expect brands and companies to offer up ultimate transparency when it comes to their personal data use.

How to communicate privacy information

A solution to help bridge this gap and continue to build trust, instead of lengthy emails and updates, is to deliver this information in more visual forms like an infographic, chart, or video message. Personalized touchpoints with consented consumers could include:

  • Surveys.
  • Quizzes.
  • Personalized emails addressing a customer’s specific needs.
  • Rewards or promos designed specifically for each user based on their personal behaviors.

These are just some of the strategies every company — big or small — should be considering to maintain long-term consumer trust and mutual openness.

The data privacy conversation is sticky and comes with many opportunities for brands and companies to mess up and lose consumer trust. With so many opportunities for failure, it’s imperative for brands and companies to be strategically thinking about the most effective ways they can use consumer first-party data to immediately establish trust, consistently work to maintain consumer relationships, and provide the level of user data and privacy transparency that is ultimately expected in today’s evolving digital age. 


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Josh has been at the forefront of innovative and inclusive data-led marketing for more than 26 years. During this time, he’s had the privilege of building an independent, data-led CRM agency that works with the world’s leading CPG, Financial, Travel, and B2B brands, companies, and organizations to achieve optimal growth between brands and their customers. An architect of Response Media’s Relationship Marketing System™, Josh leads the agency in facilitating true connections between brands and consumers, using digital marketing to deliver relevancy, meaning, trust, and mutual value at scale.
He has pioneered best-in-class consumer acquisition, brand partnerships, and relationship marketing platforms for some of the world’s largest advertisers and brands, including Procter & Gamble, American Red Cross, The Humane Society, ConAgra Foods, IBM, Disney, and Capital One.



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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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