The recent story in Wall Street Journal about the Facebook kerfuffle was just one more voice in the crowd. We’re all just lab rats. Likely illegal. People are shocked. Why? Didn’t anyone hear about that little blip on the radar about the National Security Agency?
As a marketer, I find this uproar extremely interesting on several levels. First, I’m amused that people seem to feel so violated. If you’re online, big brother is watching. We know all about you, your friends, your family. Your digital footprint is everywhere.
Think about some of the tools of our trade. I’ve recently been learning about marketing automation platforms and what they can do to help marketers learn more about their customers. The software lets us know which campaigns work and which don’t, who is interested in a product and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Awesome, right?
Or, maybe just a little bit creepy? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and then read the Wikipedia entries for marketing automation and marketing intelligence software:
Marketing automation has a focus on moving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and then presented drip campaign messaging via email and social channels, thus nurturing them from first interest through to sale.
Marketing intelligence uses tracking codes in social media, email and webpages to track the behavior of anyone interested in a product or service to gain a measure of intent. It can record which social media group or thread they followed, which link was clicked on in an email or which search term was used to access a website. Multiple link analysis can then track buyer behavior – following links and multiple threads related to product A but not B will show an interest only in A. This allows more accurately targeted response and the development of a nurturing program specifically targeted towards their interest and vertical market.
How many of your customers know that B2B marketers use these types of tools all the time? Will they be in a furor if they learn about it? Think of themselves as lab rats? Wonder if it’s legal?
And this brings me to my second thought. Will the fact that people now know about Facebook’s little “experiment” impact our online marketing efforts? A cybersecurity expert seems to think so.
Think about the implications. Suddenly, everyone is more aware of what websites they visit, what they’re posting, what they’re sharing and with whom. They’re checking their privacy settings, installing ‘Do Not Track’ software. They’re even starting to read those 30-page Terms and Conditions agreements. Yikes!
What next? When a prospect hits your landing page, will they fill out the form? Will they be more wary?
What if they stop speaking to us?
If you are still reading, then I’ve either informed or entertained you enough to pay attention thus far. My hope is that this post inspires a little introspection into the value of privacy and trust.
I believe it is shortsighted to assume that consumers of content will not become increasingly reluctant to share personal or professional information. The secret sauce for continued content marketing success will be in the value of the content. The more commoditized and generic the content, the less value it will have.
And the less our customers and prospects will want to speak to us.