Business Advice

How to strike the right balance between personalisation and privacy

- April 20, 2022 2 MIN READ
Screen showing various forms of data

If the majority of consumers prefer brands that offer personalisation, can privacy and personalisation co-exist? James Smith, CEO of Smith Brothers Media, shares some top advice for all business owners about the privacy-personalisation paradox.

Consumers of today have come to expect the personal touch when interacting with brands. Personalisation has become a business essential; from putting someone’s name at the top of a marketing email, all the way to showing people ads suited to their personal tastes.

90 per cent of consumers say receiving personalised experiences from a company is ‘appealing’. From small businesses to multinational juggernauts, in a world demanding personalisation, those that don’t prioritise creating a tailored experience run the risk of getting left behind.

Brands that base their offerings on current data gleaned about their customers’ interests, beliefs, moods, activities and locations are winning the battle.


All that sounds great, but where does all this personal data come from?

That’s where privacy enters the equation, and things get a whole lot more complicated.

The privacy-personalisation paradox

The privacy-personalisation paradox refers to a continuous tension between personalised experiences and maintaining privacy. There’s a balance to be struck, but it’s a dicey subject that’s rife with controversy.

Brands can spook their followers by appearing to know too much. For example, customers can find themselves put off by re-marketing emails and ads that seem to have been following their every move, commenting on items they’ve viewed or put in their virtual shopping cart.


Deloitte’s Consumer Review found that there was a level of distrust between companies and consumers, with 78 per cent of consumers believing that companies are not taking proper steps to protect their personal data and 43 per cent unwilling to share their personal information to receive tailored experiences.

New legal restrictions around age, third-party cookies and device IDs, complicated privacy regulations in every country and region; they’re all posing challenges for marketers.

But heightened privacy can still be an opportunity, and although we can never please everyone, there are a few strategies for keeping the balance.

Three ways to keep the privacy-personalisation balance

1. Be transparent:

A bit of honesty really does go a long way. Make it clear upfront what data you’re collecting, what it’s being used for, and that people can get this data from you if they ask.

2. Enhance the customer experience (and nothing else):

This is the end goal of all data collection. Yes, enhancing the customer experience helps your business in the long run, but the first step is making things easier for people to access your products and services.

3. Keep up to date:

Regulations change all the time. Make sure your customers know for a fact that you’re hot on the case of keeping their data safe, even with the changing digital landscape.

Trust is key

The relationship with your customer should be at the forefront of how you make decisions. From communication, to UX changes, to marketing campaigns; envision the experience you want your customer to have, building a foundation of trust at every step.

And then? Use your data to make that experience a reality.


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Now read this: 

Behavioural data: what it is, why you should be collecting it and how it will help your business

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