The EU’s Meta ruling in January 2023 means that all digital marketing practices need explicit user consent to operate within the requirements of the European data protection regulations (like the GDPR), effectively making consent-based marketing the future-proof industry standard.
Most marketers have strongly relied on Meta’s platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp) as sources for lead generation, retargeting and customer acquisition. The EU’s Meta ruling signals a paradigm shift in digital marketing, as explicit user consent wins — a shift that could affect most marketing KPIs, like lower conversion rates and a decrease in lead volumes.
So, what’s next? In this article, we show you how to easily obtain user consent in a compliant way, and how to leverage consented data to propel your digital marketing activities through consent-based marketing.
What is consent-based marketing?
Consent-based marketing involves only serving ad content to users who have given their prior consent, such as saying ‘yes’ to trackers on websites and in mobile apps.
Data privacy laws create demand for compliance solutions like our Consent Management Platform (CMP), but the bigger user-centric paradigm shift means that user consent is no longer only a legal requirement, but must be factored into the core of marketing strategies and KPIs in the cookieless future.
Consent-based marketing involves clearly asking for the user’s permission to show ads that have been individually targeted based on their personal data. To do this, companies rely on technologies that can automate the user consent transaction and integrate it across marketing tools and platforms to run a smooth, compliant and qualified process. This results in highly engaging, personalized marketing content for the user who, importantly, has said ‘yes’ to exactly that.
On the surface, digital marketing is at a challenging crossroads between one trend (users want more personalized interactions from companies) and another (users increasingly worry about how companies handle their personal data), but both trends actually point to the same thing: consent.
Consent-based marketing has a privacy-by-design approach that helps ensure compliance with all major data privacy laws around the world. Securing consent, in turn, creates the opportunity to serve highly personalized ad content to users that are asking for it.
The consent-based future is hurtling towards us faster than most marketers are prepared for.
Many marketers are still very dependent on big technology platforms like Google and Meta for vital activities like lead generation and customer acquisition, even though EU rulings and the end of third-party cookies are clear signs that things are changing.
To ensure continued growth and flow, marketers need to stop thinking about user consent in terms of ‘compliance’ and start thinking about it in terms of a base element in every important marketing activity.
Why should marketers care about data privacy compliance?
Users will give their data to companies they trust will protect it, because users also want more personalization. Companies need the consent of users to not only operate within the law but because without it, they can’t personalize their marketing activities to the user.
As the industry changes from reliance on third-party to first-party data, marketers are looking for ways to minimize their dependence on mass data collection and discover new ways to engage customers in a personalized and trustworthy way.
The benefits of consent-based marketing include regulatory compliance, cost effectiveness, and building trust with your customers, as trends show data privacy awareness is increasingly driving consumer decisions.
According to a 2021 study by Cisco:
- 79% of consumers say that data privacy is a buying factor for them.
- 47% of consumers say they have switched companies over a company’s data policies or data sharing practices.
- 19% of consumers say they have terminated a relationship with a retailer, ecommerce website, or online businesses over their data policies or data sharing practices.
That’s why getting consent in a compliant way is important: consent makes the data valuable and usable for retargeting and user acquisition, ultimately enabling you to serve the user more personalized content.
Meta was fined € 390 million by EU authorities for including the user consent transaction in their terms of service agreements, sending a clear message to marketers that relying on big tech as a main source for lead generation is becoming a risky, short-term strategy.
In short, marketers need new marketing strategies to match the changing legal and technological landscape, like doing consent-based marketing in compliance with data privacy laws like the EU’s GDPR.
But what does it mean practically to be GDPR-compliant? How do you secure consent from users in the right way?
How to do compliant marketing
Step 1: Collect explicit consent from all your audiences across all channels
A consent management platform (CMP) offers easy automation of the entire process of obtaining, documenting and securely storing user consent. That’s why it’s a preferred solution for most website administrators and executives as opposed to building one themselves.
Step 2: Ensure that your marketing tech stack is GDPR-compliant
To do consent-based marketing, you need a strong tech stack.
First of all, a staple in your tech stack should be a consent management platform that is able to make the consent transaction effortless for users and the company, while ensuring compliance under relevant data privacy laws. It also should not demand a lot of resources for teams to implement and maintain.
Here’s a checklist for GDPR compliance:
- Consent must be obtained from users before any activation of cookies or other trackers (apart from whitelisted, necessary trackers).
- Granular consent must enable users to activate some cookie categories and not others.
- Consents must be freely given, i.e. not nudged or coerced in any way.
- Users must be able to withdraw or change consent as easily as they gave it.
- Consents must be securely stored as legal documentation.
- Consent must be renewed at least once per year, though some national data protection guidelines recommend more frequent renewal, e.g. every six months, and companies should check local data protection guidelines for compliance requirements.
Any consent management platform worth a penny should be able to handle all of the above with full automation, solving the most complex legal issues so you can focus on your wider consent-based marketing strategies.
Other tools for your consent-based marketing tech stack include:
- Google Consent Mode can help you streamline user consent across all your favorite services (like Google Ads and Google Tag Manager) and help you get measurements and data even if users don’t give their consent.
- Marketing automation tools like Dashly or Drift can help with conversational marketing activities, e.g. personalization of communications.
- CMSs like Hubspot can help you craft more personalized and flexible marketing content for users.
- Tools for video marketing like TubeRanker can help you optimize video content and gain higher ranking on Google and YouTube.
Step 3: Optimize your data use
What emerges from the changing landscape around data privacy is a digital economy that is structured around the transaction of consent with new innovations to match the challenges of this transitional phase from the third-party cookie era into the first-party consent era.
For marketers, this change means moving away from big tech dependence towards collecting zero- and first-party data for customer preferences and more personalized targeting.
One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is how to leverage user consent to qualify and optimize your company’s marketing strategy instead of losing data.
While consent-based marketing can seem like a limited approach, this is only because we have been used to operating under the paradigm of mass data collection by third-party tech, where user consent was too often an annoying headache often disregarded.
Marketers must explore new marketing strategies that, to a much higher degree than before, include the user and their consent to build closer, more trustworthy and personalized experiences.
The Usercentrics Consent Management Platform (CMP) delivers industry-leading consent and compliance solutions that can help automate most legal complexities for your business.
Our product delivers easy automation and granular customization to fit your brand while handling legal complexity.
Usercentrics delivers full control of your website’s data processing through unrivaled scanning technology that protects personal data based on the consent choice.
If the user says yes, our CMP documents and maintains consent through regular renewal (as the GDPR requires).
Usercentrics also enables compliance with California’s CCPA, South Africa’s POPIA, Brazil’s LGPD and more.
Our consent management platform integrates seamlessly as a certified partner of Google Consent Mode, enabling consent to work for both the user and the company.
Integrations with WordPress, HubSpot, Google Tag Manager and many more help make GDPR compliance an easy and integrated part of your consent-based marketing strategies.
Our product’s high customizability offers ways to optimize consent rates with increased user trust, balancing data privacy and data-driven business.