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Are you familiar with the “do-not-track” concept that is one of the hot topics in the world of digital marketing today?  In a blog post on Ad Age Digital, Adam Lehman explores the topic of “How Digital Marketers Will Survive in the Coming ‘Do-Not-Track’ World.”  If you’re new to the topic, do-not-track is a topic that has been kicked around for a few years and is gaining momentum behind legislation, industry moves and increasing awareness of consumers about how their activities are tracked while they are online.  It would severely restrict and in some cases outright stop digital marketers from tracking, collecting and acting on data from interactions with their online audience. I’ll leave to others the wisdom of whether or not legislation/industry action/etc. is needed.  My concern is focused more on how small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should prepare for these changes and in today’s post, I’ll look at three things you and your business should do to begin preparing for this new landscape.

1. Make sure you know what data you collect today and how it is used.  To some, this may seem obvious.  But for many companies, they do not have a clear idea of what kind of information they collect, who is responsible for maintaining that data and what (if any) restrictions — imposed by the company, legislation, industry groups, etc. — there may be on that data.  Take your e-mail marketing program.  What kind of information do you have on your subscribers?  How did you collect that information?  What did you tell your subscribers you would do (or not do) with that information once they provided it?  Where is that data stored?  Who is the keeper of your dataset?  Do you have checks and balances in place to keep that person honest?  What will you do if there is a breach and someone gains access to that data?  Think it can’t happen?  Ask LinkedIn about the recent hack into their password file that exposed 6.5 million passwords to the world.  Bottom line: you need to know what you collect today, who has access to it and what you can/cannot do with that information.

2. Familiarize yourself with industry developments regarding do-not-track.  Microsoft, the maker of the widely-used Internet Explorer Web browser, recently announced that the newest version of Internet Explorer will include “do-not-track” enabled by default.  This means that many visitors to your Web site that use IE (you do know the most widely used browsers by visitors to your site, don’t you?!) may soon simply disappear from any tracking you may be doing, regardless of whether or not they no longer wanted to be tracked.  Microsoft isn’t the first to make a change along these lines and they certainly won’t be the last.  Bottom line: you’ll need to stay up on developments like these so that you can keep ahead of the curve of your digital marketing efforts as much as possible.

3. Build a strong relationship with your customers.  This is one of the fundamental goals of business, right?  If you’re working hard to build a strong relationship with your customers, are seen as a “helper” and less as a marketer and truly care about the needs of your customers, you will build a level of trust that will far surpass the impacts of any do-not-track efforts.  Bottom line: if you build a solid relationship with your customers they will continue to carry on a relationship with you no matter what.

Of course, legislation and any number of trends can greatly impact your business and its digital marketing efforts.  As a result, this makes it very difficult to predict the future.  We want to know: what potential impacts do you think do-not-track will have on your business and what are you doing to prepare for it?  Leave us a comment below and be sure to contact Dijital Farm if you have any questions about this critical topic.