Personalized Marketing and Data Privacy: How Healthcare Systems Can Meet the Needs of Consumers Who Want Both

Healthcare marketers are certainly faced with an array of challenges—including the shifting landscape of data-driven advertising. 

In an increasingly digital world, many consumers want the messaging they see to be relevant to their needs—but may be reluctant to give up the data that makes that type of personal touch possible.  

That’s according to recent research by BCG and Google, which referred to this conundrum as a “tricky paradox.”

“…on one hand, the fight for customer attention requires ever more relevant messages tailored to people’s interests at the moment they are most interested,” BCG experts said. “On the other hand, customers are increasingly concerned about providing the data marketers need to create those experiences.”

In this context, they described “successful” marketers as “tightrope walkers” who must balance the discomfort some consumers have about sharing personal information with their desire for “familiar, frictionless experiences with the brands they care about.”

And then there are the dicey third-party-cookie dynamics that are complicating things even more.

“…while walking that fine line, marketers must be ready for what’s next: staying ahead of platform changes due to third-party cookie deprecation and tightening global data regulations,” BCG said.

In the research, over 1000 consumers in the U.S and Canada were surveyed and more than thirty marketers at major companies were interviewed. What the researchers want to know included: 

  • “How consumers feel about the way their data is collected”
  • “What data they are willing to share”
  • “Which uses of data they are comfortable with or even prefer”
  • How marketers are responding to these “evolving consumer sentiments”

“The results were clear,” said BCG. “While many marketing teams are still struggling to find the right way to reach their consumers online, successful marketers take a consumer-centric approach to data collection across their organizations—and they take proactive steps to build trust with consumers by demonstrating their concern for data privacy.”

The following provides a snapshot of the results and what BCG recommends to help marketers optimize their efforts. 

How Consumers Responded

In their consumer surveys, BCG said the three things consumers said were most important to them were: 

  • What data is being collected? 
  • Why it is being collected? (In other words, what will it be used for?)
  • How is the data collected—and is there a clear value exchange offered?

What data is being collected? 

BCG said there were “certain types of data” people were generally more willing to share, including things like gender, age, zip code, and email addresses “with a specific company.” 

But they weren’t too keen on giving up their phone number, location, or online browsing activity—and were least uncomfortable with “companies recording their conversations.”  

However, since the results varied “significantly” among consumer segments, BCG said “marketers must consider their consumers’ unique preferences and situations and then define a segment-specific approach to data collection.” 

Why it is being collected? (In other words, what will it be used for?)

“Consumers’ perceptions of how their data will be used impact their willingness to share it in the first place,” BCG said. “They prefer that their data be used to create short, informative, and engaging advertising content, or to help companies understand what product innovations they’d like to see. But they are much less comfortable with their data being shared with other companies, and they’re especially uncomfortable with it being sold.”

BCG said these dynamics underscore the importance of transparency about how the data will be used once it is collected.  

How is the data collected—and is there a clear value exchange offered?

“Many consumers are willing to share their personal data with brands, but the majority want a clear incentive (or ‘value exchange’) to do so,” BCG said. “Even as privacy concerns mount, about 30% of respondents said they are willing to share their email addresses with a given company for no incentive. However, 90% are willing to share that data when presented with the right value exchange.”

The Importance of Trust

Establishing and maintaining trust with healthcare consumers is critical in all kinds of ways—including an organization’s marketing efforts. 

According to BCG’s research, “two-thirds of consumers want ads that are customized to their interests—yet nearly half are uncomfortable sharing their data to receive personalized ads.”

Which is where trust comes in. 

“When consumers trust a brand, they are about twice as willing to share their email addresses,” BCG said. “But 64% of consumers say they mistrust companies in at least one industry to protect their personal data and privacy online.”

The good news is that of those cited, healthcare is one of the industries consumers said they trust the most. 

3-Steps Toward “Privacy-First Marketing” 

As a result of its research, BCG has designed a “three-step action plan that companies can adopt to take a holistic, privacy-first approach to marketing.” Here are a few snippets from the 3-step strategy:

  1. Cultivate consumer trust through increased transparency and brand management: “Companies can build trust by communicating—in clear, concise language—what data is collected, how it will be used, and how it will benefit consumers.”
  2. Create great experiences by evolving your tech and data infrastructure: “In order to create great experiences, you must know your consumer—and that requires accelerating first-party data collection while redefining consumer interactions in a way that respects privacy sensitivities.”
  3. Build a data-centric organization with a privacy-first approach and mindset: “Since data privacy and communications are now critical for any brand, the role of chief marketing officer (CMO) should be reimagined as a data steward. …Another way to build a data-centric organization is to bolster internal education and culture change involving data privacy. …Lastly, building a data-centric organization requires applying the same privacy-first approaches beyond your four walls—which means including the data and services partners you work with.”

Acknowledging that addressing all of these requirements can be overwhelming, BCG underscored the importance of getting started sooner, rather than later. 

“Organizations need to move quickly and take a test-and-learn approach while also preparing for longer-term shifts,” BCG said. “To do so, they should start aligning on a privacy-readiness roadmap today.”

For more about the research results, recommended strategies, and BCG’s privacy-readiness roadmap, please access the full report. 

Contact us today to find out how we can help you level up your healthcare marketing strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

Published On: July 20, 2022

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