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Why Trust with Customers will Reshape Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders


Why Trust with Customers will Reshape Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders

Consumers have a larger voice today, powered by a plethora of information sources and endless opportunities to voice their opinion on social media. As a result, modern businesses and their marketing arms realize they need more customer-centric approaches that foster more direct relationships through engagement and more personalized experiences. 

In order to accomplish this, businesses need a more direct pathway and visibility into each and every individual customer’s behaviors, needs, and preferences. Organizations have traditionally relied on third-party data to reach their customers, but changing regulations and the realization that this type of data cannot provide reliable insight into personalized preferences has left businesses looking for new and better options. 

Businesses are now building strategies to collect this personalized data through direct interactions with their customers, known as zero-party data or explicit first-party data. As a result, this process will result in greater trust between the customer and business and will foster more longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. 

Customers are willing to share personalized data with companies they trust 

For many years, businesses preferred the use of third-party data because they thought it was a more expedient and efficient way to reach consumers. However, consumers have demonstrated their willingness to provide personal information with businesses they perceive as trustworthy. This means that trust has become a leading business strategy for today’s modern businesses. 

Companies that establish a distinct line of trust with their customers will be able to collect highly personalized, unique information on each customer, and will build their own datasets for each customer – rendering their outdated third-party datasets useless or at best secondary to zero-party data. These modern businesses will quickly realize they have a clear competitive advantage within the markets they serve. 

Companies have been their own worst enemy 

There are a handful of reasons why this shift is taking place. As a result of hundreds of data breaches that have plagued businesses of every size, customers have become weary of the way in which companies use and mishandle their personal data. This has led to stricter regulations, such as the EU’s GDPR, California’s CCPA and many more, that impact how businesses are allowed to use their customers’ data. Many leading companies are now taking measures to change the way in which customer data can be collected, utilized and shared. 

This has resulted in drastic changes in data privacy, a byproduct of which includes, companies building more personalized relationships with their customers in the name of trust. 

What is zero-party data and how can companies collect this info 

Especially driven by today’s e-commerce and mobile device landscape, the most valuable data a modern marketer or business can have comes directly from customers themselves. Personalized information shared directly from a customer to an organization is referred to as “Zero-Party” data. 

Zero-party data is highly personalized insight a customer intentionally, directly, and proactively provides to a brand because they have built a level of trust with that company. This personalized insight may include preferences, insights, profile data or consents, and how the individual wants the business to engage them. 

What’s in it for the customer? 

Why are customers willing to share such personal and private details with companies? Because it results in a better, more personalized experience with a brand. Think of a beauty products maker that can send emails, texts, and promotions that speak directly to the unique needs of a customer who has specific allergic sensitivities to his or her skin. These types of modern marketing promotions illustrate to the customer that the company is truly listening to their needs, and in return that customer will show a higher level of engagement to the marketing messages. Like a snowball rolling downhill, once this company can demonstrate they are truly listening to this customer’s unique needs, the customer builds trust with the company and is willing to continue sharing even more of their data over time. 

Customers become more satisfied because the brand is doing a much better job of meeting their needs, and they reward the brand with loyalty, advocacy, and bigger purchases. Each time there is a successful data-value exchange between the business and customer, it positively reinforces the relationship and incrementally strengthens customer trust which increases their propensity to share more data. And the cycle continues. 

These modern brands recognize the powerful voice customers now have today. They also recognize the quickly changing regulatory environment and are rapidly adapting to the new ways of customer engagement through trust and personalization. These modern brands will take a leadership position – no matter the size of their company – and shape the way entire omnichannel-driven industries operate in the future. 


As PossibleNOW’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Consulting, Jeff provides thought leadership related to the deployment and utilization of zero-party data (customer consents, preferences, and insights). He handles executive management responsibilities for pre-sales, strategic consulting, and implementation services. He helps customers identify pain points, craft solutions unique to their needs, and provides guidance across the implementation and assessment processes.  

Jeff has a broad and extensive background in domestic and international business environments across myriad industries. He has held executive positions with FreebeePay, Agentek, SupportSoft, and CoreNetworks and management positions with Mosaix, Sequent Computer and IBM, helping companies drive business growth, develop high-performance sales and service organizations and implement process best practices. 


Common E-commerce Mistakes to Avoid: How Many Are You Making?

E-commerce is a truly amazing idea. You can market your product to thousands of customers without the marketing budget of a multinational company, take orders, and deliver them all at the same platform.

With the COVID-19 pandemic locking people up in their homes, online shopping has become the new norm, making e-commerce almost a necessity for most modern businesses.

While the possibilities are endless, it’s easy for things to go wrong with e-commerce if you don’t keep a few basic points in mind. If you’re wondering why your online business hasn’t achieved the growth it should have had, here are some common mistakes you might be making.

1. You have insufficient information on your store.

While everyone includes basic information like product descriptions and pricing, it’s easy to neglect the pages you think are unimportant.

One page people tend to neglect is the “About Us” page. You might think buyers aren’t interested in reading about you but you’re wrong. Buyers are curious about the person or company they’re buying from, especially if you’re just starting out and not big yet.

A well-written about us page helps you connect with your customers by sharing your personal story with them, which builds trust and credibility. At the end of the day, less buyers are going to bounce off your store.

At other times, e-commerce stores fail to clearly outline sales terms and conditions, leaving users confused about their refund and exchange policy. This can turn away a good number of buyers (no one likes taking risks with their money!), so make sure to include this information in clear terms in your store. A good online business lawyer can help you in this regard.

2. Your store is not designed for phones.

Mobile phones are a major medium people use to shop online. You could have the most amazing store, but if it’s not optimized for mobile phones, you’ve lost a lot of customers in an instant.

Open your store on your mobile browser, and see if it runs as smoothly as it does on a desktop. If it’s displayed incorrectly, lags, or is not very responsive, it means you need to have a conversation with your software team!

3. You haven’t researched the market.

This mistake can be made with any business, but it’s particularly easy to make with online businesses because they’re so easy to set up.

You can have full confidence in your product, but your business won’t flourish if no one wants your product. So it’s extremely important to find out the demand your product has before launching a store.

Another common mistake people make is failing to niche down. You should clearly define your niche, and then aim to engage your target audience. If you don’t niche down, you won’t be targeting a specific audience. You’ll basically be shooting in the dark.

4. You’ve neglected SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what makes your store visible on the internet. When you type “best pencil holders” in Google, you see a list of websites. Those websites aren’t ranked randomly but by how well they’re optimized for search engines.

Every piece of text that you put onto your store (from product descriptions to the About Us page) is an opportunity to make use of the right keywords and improve your SEO. Many e-commerce owners neglect the content they put on their website when it’s one of the most powerful tools to drive the right kind of customers to their store.

But SEO is not just about content. As competition between websites is increasing, SEO is getting more and more complex with constantly evolving on-page and off-page SEO best practices.

So it’s unlikely you’ll be able to tackle your store’s SEO by yourself. If you’re a startup, consider working with a budget-friendly SEO agency to take your store to the next level!

5. You’re not loud enough.

You can have the most amazing e-commerce store out there but it’s going to be useless if people don’t know about it.

You need to make use of all marketing platforms available to you to promote your website. Creating a brand identity and a story that people can relate with help in website promotion, so it’s a good idea to work on those aspects of your store as well.

Placing ads on social media platforms, collaborating with influencers and YouTubers, and making the right use of SEO content are some ways to promote your website. Many more ideas exist, and no one idea alone can turn things around for your store.

If you’d like to take all the ideas and turn them into an effective marketing strategy, your best bet is to work with a good digital marketer who can help you scream out as loud as possible!

6. You’re failing to close the deal.

The checkout process is the most important part of your store when it comes to closing the deal. If it’s too cumbersome, there’s a very good chance your customer will abandon the cart.

Your goal should be to make your checkout process as smooth as possible. You can do this by ensuring good page load speeds and a clean, intuitive user interface. At this point in the buying process, you should keep things minimal and avoid distracting the customer with offers, promotions, and advertisements.

It’s also helpful to keep the information required for making the purchase minimum — today’s internet users crave instant gratification and too much typing while shopping online annoys them.

Finally, try to offer as many payment options as you can. Nothing breaks the heart of an e-commerce customer like the unavailability of their preferred payment option, which sometimes is the only option they really have!


When Determining the Right Preference and Consent Provider, Know the Differences in Capabilities

Thousands of companies today, large and small, are realizing the importance of building trust and giving customers a voice through functions such as customer consent and preference management. Regulations such as GDPR and CCPA, as well as customer backlash related to poor customer experiences, has forced much of this shifting environment for brands today.  

Why is consent and preference management becoming more important? 

Customer consent is important because it grants permission for brands to provide marketing or service communications with prospects and customers. Preference management is also important. We all sign up for newsletters, product information, promotions as well as lifestyle preferences related to things such as travel. Therefore, it is important for all customer-facing departments (e.g. marketing, sales, and customer service) within a business to make it very easy for customers to indicate and change their preferences as their interests evolve over time. 

Companies today are spending millions on marketing technologies that enable seamless customer consent and preference management. Research firm Markets and Markets1 estimates that the consent management industry will represent $765 million by 2025, up from $317 million in 2020.  

Not all preference and consent providers are equal  

While many businesses are realizing they need these critical technologies to enhance, refine and preserve the overall customer experience, they should do their homework when selecting the right preference and consent management technology provider to work with – as not all are created equal. 

All-in-one may not mean the best solution 

At first glance, there are a handful of enterprise-level technology providers that do everything from customer relationship management to marketing automation to preference management. These cloud-based software companies have the look and feel of a “Big Box” provider and offer a suite of applications that help companies manage all aspects of their business.   

The allure of working with a provider such as this is the single vendor, “all-in-one” solution where there are often no additional costs or integration required for a core platform. However, what they gain in their single-stop allure, they often fall short in truly satisfying the unique, holistic, and cross-platform solutions needed for preference and consent management requirements for each individual company. 

Specialty vendors can build custom solutions 

On the other hand, specialty and boutique providers that focus on preference management and consent solutions offer a more holistic approach that includes strategy, best practices, process, and governance in addition to technology. They often start by interviewing their customer’s customer to understand what’s truly important to the consumer. With this insight in hand, they are able to design a holistic solution that meets both the consumer’s and organization’s needs. With this roadmap in place, they are ready to manage the deployment process and help gain adoption. This greater internal and external adoption leads to increased customer engagement, improved marketing ROI, and higher revenue potential.  

Along with internal adoption comes the ability to help integrate preferences for consumers across the entire organization and its many departments – a critical function that can be missed by “big box” providers whose offerings aren’t designed to meet this unique set of needs. As a result, this leads to a single view of the customer, greater customer trust, and assurance of regulatory compliance.  

On the surface, listening to customers and honoring their preferences is not only obvious, it’s also a must in today’s customer-driven business climate. Every business today must listen to their customers and the outcomes are immediate and apparent. As digital environments grow increasingly more complex – along with the penalties introduced for non-compliance – businesses of every size, and in every region must rely on the right solutions. It is up to each individual business to determine the right provider to work with for the right set of unique solutions. 


Editor’s Note: Tom Fricano is the Practice Director of Strategy and Consulting at PossibleNOW. With more than 25 years of experience, Tom assists clients with customer experience, preference management and consent initiatives through advisory and strategic consulting, technology expertise and project to product to implementation roadmaps.

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Apple, Facebook and Google are Reshaping How Businesses Leverage Consumer Data

The landscape for how companies deliver content to consumers and the way they obtain consent to use personal data is changing before our eyes. Apple, maker of the iPhone and iPad, recently announced changes to the way it will handle privacy for its users. Specifically, they plan to give customers enhanced control over privacy settings that will empower them to have more say over which of their personal data is provided to brands. 

This has angered executives at Facebook who say the changes will limit and significantly diminish the ability to deliver highly targeted content and ads to its users – a move that is sure to damage advertising revenue from the millions of businesses that depend on targeted content, messages and offers for a more personalized experience and effective campaigns.  

Additionally, Google, which has established itself as the number-one digital advertising platform through its search engine, has also recently announced it will make changes to the way in which it delivers personalized content and ads. They are proposing their own new set of technologies that they say still allows them to track web users personally, but in a way that respects their privacy. According to the company, they can do this through tools that promise to group consumers into interest groups on their devices, and never send their browsing information to a central server. 

What’s At Stake – How We Currently Use Marketing Data 

What’s at stake is the way in which companies use technology and algorithms to track individual users. For example, if Google enhances privacy by masking consumer data, then businesses must go through Google to purchase ads and thereby gain access to targeting data in order to deliver messages in front of a specific user base. 

Driven by Big Data, these ads have helped companies target people who have the characteristics of someone to whom the messages and offers are likely to be of interest.  

Of course, Big Data is the process of purchasing data from a third-party provider, collecting online activity, purchase history, social media content and more to identify people that are potentially interested in what companies have to offer.  

However, one inherent problem is that companies are making assumptions based on this data, and also many times those assumptions are based on very outdated and/or inaccurate data – in addition to the fact that people know this is happening and see it as “creepy”. For example, a person Googles a certain topic and then they are served targeted digital ads about the same product.   

Because of this, Big Data is falling out of favor because many times it is inaccurate, and it lacks consumer transparency and control.  At the same time, companies like Google and Apple want to do a better job of keeping consumer data more private while also continuing to deliver a personalized Internet experience for the consumer. 

How Will Companies Deliver Personalization While Enhancing Privacy? 

There has been a war waging for some time now over a person’s right to data privacy. Further, there’s a privacy/personalization paradox that exists. This refers to the fact that consumers want data privacy and to know that their data is safe. However, at the same time, we live in a digital world and most people feel overwhelmed with all the messages coming at them daily. Therefore, they also want messages to be personalized and relevant and have expectations that businesses will provide great customer experiences for them. 

How Will Use of Data Change? 

That being said, there must be a fundamental change in the way companies collect and use data. As we’ve discussed, big data is often inaccurate, feels like an invasion of privacy, and breed’s mistrust.  

What’s happening, as a result, is that companies are now embracing the collection of zero-party data. Zero-party data is information a customer freely and intentionally shares with a brand they trust. It can include personal insights like preferences, feedback, profile information, interests, consent, and purchase intent.  

The Result is More Trust, Empowerment & Data Control 

This step is in the right direction in that customers should be more in control of their data. The benefit of using zero-party data is that: 

-it is unique to the brand and no other brand has the same data;  

-it’s the ultimate source of truth in that the customer offers up their own insight, rather than making assumptions based on big data and;  

-it is relationship-based so it relies on a higher level of trust with the customer which means the company must be transparent about their use of the data and the relationship must be mutually beneficial. 

The key to all of this is that businesses in every industry, no matter their size or location, must change the way they engage and interact with their customers. They must build trust so that their customers and prospects are willing to share zero-party data with them. 

In doing so, these businesses will gain access to the data they need to engage with customers on their terms and provide enhanced value in return such as better customer service and relevant customer experiences.  And by providing customers easy access to update and edit their data, they will be in control of their data which not only builds trust but also keeps their data current. And that leads to a mutually beneficial relationship. 


Scott Frey is the original founder of PossibleNOW formed in 2000. Today, he serves as the President and CEO for PossibleNOW, Inc. and PossibleNOW’s wholly-owned subsidiary, CompliancePoint. Frey is responsible for the business growth and acquisition strategy, product development initiatives, and all sales and marketing strategy for both companies. He specializes in designing technology and professional services solutions to solve complex business challenges related to marketing and compliance operations. 

Under Frey’s tenure as CEO, the company has evolved from a marketing compliance solution provider solving privacy and compliance issues, to a more diverse organization that helps companies leverage PossibleNOW’s Enterprise Preference Management solutions to deliver relevant, targeted, personalized communications to their customers and prospects, increasing profitability and customer loyalty. 


What Do Consumers Want Now? The Data Knows.

Businesses seem to know more about you than you know about yourself.

Sign up for or log into any social media platform and you will encounter suggested buying options based on your personal interests or previous buying history.

There’s a reason for that. The market is a consumers’ market. Any company that wants the chance of long-term sustainability must know as much detailed information as possible about their ideal client or consumer, says Janét Aizenstros, Chairwoman & CEO of Ahava Digital Group (, a women-led digital consultancy that serves Fortune and multinational media companies in 15 locations globally using data and technology.

And it’s not just the business sector. Government agencies, political parties and private equity investors make decisions every day based on what data reveals to them about a person’s income, financial and buying habits, credit history, political identification, demographics, personal values, lifestyle, emotional sentiments, voting history, opinions and modeled behavior.

“Without good, verified data, decision-makers would have to rely on guesswork as they introduce products and services, plan an election campaign, or determine whether a community needs their next real estate project,” says Aizenstros, whose company gathers and provides ethically verified data to Fortune corporations seeking to nurture relationships with women consumers.

“Guesswork obviously is not the best approach, especially when millions of dollars are involved.” 

How do businesses use verified data to make short-term and long-term decisions for their consumers’ needs?

“Ideally, personal milestones change a person’s buying habits,” Aizenstros says. “Examples are highlights of becoming a new parent, moving to a new home, or getting married. If a business knows you’ve just had a baby, then they know you need car seats, toys, diapers and a host of other products they can market to you.”

Consumer data carries great value to businesses, but only if it’s verified, refreshed frequently and keeps up with data and privacy legislation changes by data being ethically-sourced, Aizenstros says.

Here are a few ways data is used to keep the economy, and the world in general, humming along:

Auto industryCar dealers need a good understanding of their potential customers’ income and what vehicles they might prefer based on lifestyle. GM, Ford, and others draw insights from consumer financial data and lifestyle data as they plan and implement marketing campaigns for new models.

Fashion industry. The fashion industry’s new focus is sustainability to capture the growing trend of fashionistas. The retail industry pre-COVID relied more on the human experience than the ecommerce experience for their consumers to make decisions. But now Estée Lauder, for example, has accelerated its focus on e-commerce because of the pandemic’s disruption to brick-and-mortar stores. With verified and predictive consumer data, fashion brands can quickly measure how customers react to ideas and make prompt adjustments accordingly.

Real estate. Real estate developers are always trying to figure out which areas of a community to focus on for their next investment. If they are slow to identify trends, they could miss out on making money. Data helps them monitor, for example, which areas of a city are showing a growing trend in mortgages and credit history.

Financial institutions. Financial institutions use data in such areas as credit-risk assessments or to send targeted offers of investment products to consumers.

“The reason obtaining ethically-sourced, verified data is so important to corporations is that they want to maximize their ad spend by diminishing their burn-and-churn rates,” Aizenstros says. “They need to know who their ideal client is and what they exactly want so the business can maximize their marketing investment by more than 90%.”


Janét Aizenstros is Chairwoman & CEO of Ahava Group Global (, a modern media parent company that serves Fortune and multinational media companies in 15 locations globally. Her background includes roles in finance at TD Canada Trust, Canon, and Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, along with management consulting in a broad range of functions, such as supply chain operations and data analysis. Aizenstros is a signatory with the United Nations Business Action Hub for the United Nations Global Compact program. She is an award-winning businesswoman with several leadership awards such as the Top 40 under 40, the Top 10 Inspiring Women in Canada, and 2019 Conscious Company Media’s Top 22 Business Leaders.