Keys to Unlocking Better Customer Relationships: Connecting in a Privacy-First World

graphic of a padlock splitting light like a prism

By Tina Eskridge, Marketing Leader at Microsoft Advertising

You don’t need to be reminded that 2020 was a year of immense change.  In fact, 2021 has shown that a lot of what we thought would be temporary is now the norm. The rules of engagement are changing as people shift more of their lives online and their values play a bigger role in purchase decisions. Privacy concerns, regulations, and cookie deprecation are top of mind and impacting how advertisers think of data collection going forward.  You are likely asking yourself how you can remain successful in delivering the best experience to your customers with all these changes and factors at play?

Three keys to unlock better customer relationships that drive growth in your advertising channels

As cookies and mobile IDs become a thing of the past, we propose three ‘keys’ to unlocking customer relationships that set you up for future growth.

  1. The first key is to have foundational technology that allows your company to unlock your data’s potential, enabling you to unify, organize, enrich, and activate on that data across your advertising channels.
  2. The second key is leveraging audience intelligence and signals to enhance your customer understanding and find new customers.
  3. The third key is ensuring that you are building trust with your customers which creates brand love and loyalty. It can’t be all about conversions and clicks!

#1: Unlock your data’s potential

The first key to unlock better customer relationships is investment in your customer data.  Companies that leverage data to create exceptional customer experiences can set themselves apart. Organizations that harness customer data for insights achieve:

  • Revenue gains of 5-10%1
  • Reduced costs by 15-25 % within two or three years1

The tool of choice is the Customer Data Platform (CDP).  There is nothing more powerful than turning your data into actionable insights.  Those insights can inform the offers that you make, the content you create, the messages you craft, and the experiences you deliver across all your customer touchpoints. It’s important to think about the investments you are making today that will allow you to leverage your data to support your bottom line.

There are three critical aspects to consider in unlocking the potential of your customer data:

  • the first is using the cloud to consolidate and enrich your data
  • the second is applying AI to be a powerful interpretive layer, the magic in the middle and,
  • the third is consent and compliance to ensure reconciliation of customer consent across all channels, and that you are complying with industry laws and regulations.

Microsoft provides a cloud-powered, consent enabled CDP which provides a 360-degree view of your customers.  Our solution, Dynamics 365 Customer Insights helps your organization:

  • deliver more personalized experiences with insights into who your customers are and how they engage with you, by unifying customer data across multiple sources to get a single view
  • leverage AI-powered insights and analytics to predict customer needs, drive meaningful actions, discover new audience segments, and define KPIs to maximize business performance
  • maintain full control over the customer data for data security, governance, and compliance.
  • leverage your enriched data across multiple advertising channels and platforms, with Microsoft Advertising as one of those destinations through Customer Match targeting.

Increasingly, data is playing a starring role in your advertising.  With the coming deprecation of 3rd party cookies, it will become important that you are empowered with your first-party data strategy through a CDP to reach your customer across their entire decision journey no matter the channel. A very pivotal question to ask yourself — are your current partnerships empowering you with the independence to build your customer relationships through insights and data, and the ability to activate anywhere your customer is??

#2: Enhance your customer understanding and find new customers

The second key to unlock better customer relationships is enhancing data with signals that pinpoint your ideal customer and identify new customers based on intent.

We know that customers leave traces of data generated by internal and external sources, which can often hinder a full behavioral view. To get the full picture of your customer you need to ensure you are leveraging a wide variety of signals from internal and external data sources. The external data signals can help enhance your understanding of your customer’s journey off your website, and help improve your advertising performance through more targeted, personalized experiences.

While respecting user privacy, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to understand over 1 billion people that use the Microsoft ecosystem of sites and services monthly, better than any 3rd party data provider or external demand platform targeting the same inventory. Microsoft’s audience intelligence is comprised of billions of signals from search and web activity, and unique data only we have, like LinkedIn professional profiles.  We put the power of this audience intelligence to work, delivering great experiences for people through personalization, and better marketing performance for you.

The Microsoft Audience Network is a massive investment area for us that leverages our audience intelligence.  It’s the perfect marriage of search and display –the beauty of display, but the brains of search!  When we apply AI to our audience intelligence, the impact on advertising performance is positive – it not only increases click-through rates (CTRs), but a combined search and native buy increases search performance.

#3: Building trust

The third key to unlock better customer relationships is how you approach trust.  Earning and maintaining people’s trust has never been more paramount to building a stronger and healthier business for the future.  People are demanding it, and its paying incredible dividends for brands that are making the change.

Microsoft has a set of principles for how we use data. Principles are choices, they are self-imposed, and guide our path to the future. One of our guiding principles is that privacy is a human right.  Microsoft believes that people should be in full control of their privacy.  We also believe brands should be in complete control of their own permissioned 1st party data and what they use it for. You should be in control of any customer data that you use for advertising.  Ensuring transparency and respecting user privacy.

Additionally, you can build trust that creates brand love and loyalty by understanding your customer’s values.  Our industry uses language when we speak about advertising to customers like targeting, reaching, influencing, and converting.  Yet, as people, wouldn’t we rather feel understood, heard, included, and welcomed?  Understanding what people value and identifying how your company purpose aligns with those values can create shared meaning.  In return, customers will naturally share what is important to them. And understanding what is personally relevant to your customers helps you create a more authentic and genuine brand that is proven to increase trust and loyalty.

At Microsoft Advertising, we are focused on ‘Marketing with Purpose’.  It is founded in consumer research, and we leverage it to guide our clients to build trust and create more personally relevant and inclusive brands.

We recently launched the Marketing with Purpose automated extensions that allow you to showcase your company’s purpose and values to customers:

  • You can now enhance your search ads with display badges such as your accessible business attributes, whether you are a minority-owned, LGBTQ+ Owned business, and if you are a sustainable business or offer eco-friendly products.

Purpose is infused in everything we do for our clients, and we will continue to share important insights and provide training that will help you build trust.  Check out our Marketing with Purpose playbook and have your teams take the Marketing with Purpose course.

Empowering marketers to achieve more

Choosing a successful path starts with strengthening and leveraging your data to benefit your bottom line….not ours. Today there is an increasing dependency on technology partners for you to understand and reach your own customers.  Our approach at Microsoft is to give you full control over your data and allow you to leverage that data to best serve your customer’s needs.

You should feel in control of your customer data and confident that it is managed in a safe, privacy compliant, open, and collaborative way so your customers continue to build trust with you and grow in lifetime value.

Microsoft puts its clients success at the center of our universe.
That illuminates an industry.  

Growth is about applying powerful intelligence to data to unlock potential, lifetime value and brand loyalty.
That illuminates businesses. 

And it’s about investing in building trust, protecting people, and leading with purpose.
We hope this illuminates’ generations.  

The difference is gaining a conversion today or creating a customer for life.  With Microsoft Advertising, great relationships start here.