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How data management can establish trust and transparency

The relationship between brands and consumers is more direct and genuine than it’s ever been.

In a complex ecosystem, where consumers continue to have difficulty understanding who has access to their data and how they are using it, trust and transparency are at the heart of protecting a brand’s relationship with consumers. Marketers must be absolutely transparent with their customers, whether it concerns changing technologies, emerging cyber threats or government regulation.

As part of a large global financial services organization, we at Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) are experienced at helping our clients manage their customer data because we confront the evolution and complexity of consumer information every day—be it government regulation or the public’s concerns about privacy.

Here are some key takeaways from how our experience with data management has taught us about being a better brand and building better relationships.

1. Little things can lead to big insights

When looking for opportunities for our clients, we often leverage ourselves as guinea pigs. Where are our gaps? How critical are they? Through these exercises, we find real, relatable insights…easy ones and more complex opportunities. For example, EY Consulting created a new subscription and preference-center page that we were excited to share with our executive clients. In looking at real-life scenarios, there were some easy places to prioritize.

We learned through data analysis that a key client with whom our account team had a great relationship had never responded to our previous consent preferences. As a result, this executive was not receiving our latest thought leadership content or invitations to our personalized events.

That simple interaction highlighted a crucial gap and opened a world of opportunities for us to learn more about this client’s areas of interest so we could serve them better.

2. Proactively monitor changes to first-party data regulations

Data insights from our preference center have proved invaluable for our firm in growing and maintaining our database and its integrity. In one instance, we saw that a large global organization where we had a 60% opt-in to content, more than 600 people, suddenly dropped in one quarter due to changing regional and country-specific requirements. Fortunately, our real-time insights allowed us to see the change, understand the root cause and quickly correct course.

For any business, it is critical to understand regional and country-specific content rules that can continue to iterate and change all the time. Our firm’s ability to standardize the management of preferences is a significant advantage toward staying highly connected with our clients around the world. How is your business adapting?

3. The power of technology is great, but it’s meaningless without data @ your foundation

Like many of our customers, EY sales and marketing data can be located across various legacy and newer systems. To capture a complete view of our clients, we connected all these systems via the Adobe Experience Platform.

Connecting sales and marketing data allowed us to quickly improve the customer experience and open new opportunities with important and engaged clients.

When we connected our digital signals with our CRM data and marketing insights, we found that an executive at a priority account was highly engaged with our digital channels—attending our events, reading our newsletters and downloading our other content — but their last interaction with our EY account team was more than five years ago. This created a great opportunity for one of our client-facing executives to re-engage and tailor a conversation to what we were seeing as the key issue the client was consuming.

Building a smart dashboard for marketing and sales creates an interactive environment in which it’s easy to find opportunities for improvement and tailor personal interactions, as in this customer experience.

The foundation is important, but you are constantly evolving and adapting

As consumers continue to have experiences that match their expectations, it will lend more credibility to brands that work to protect customer data and those that use that data to personalize experiences and delight their customers.

Marketers must re-evaluate how they manage data protection:

  • It’s not just about the technology.
  • It’s not just about the world-class customer experiences being delivered.
  • It’s not just about data management.
  • And finally, it’s not even just about the brand.

As the world around the brand shifts, the various levers brands have at their disposal can be adjusted to maintain alignment and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Brands may have developed approaches to how the various actors in their organizations interact with data, but the question is: Are all these actors on the same page? At the end of the day, data is about an exchange in value.

How much are consumers willing to provide access to their personal information in exchange for some benefit? Are marketers willing to provide services that fulfill consumers’ expectations of brands today?


The market may have evolved, and new scenarios and challenges may emerge, but the basics of a brand’s relationship with its customers—trust and transparency—remain the same.

This article was originally published by Ad Age Studio 30.

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