It’s no secret that there are clear pros and cons to offering users gated and ungated content, it’s a question we’ve debated ourselves in a previous blog post. But one of the aspects to this argument that’s rarely (if ever) discussed is the value of content gating to support a user’s online privacy.
At first glance, it may sound counterintuitive. The idea that gathering user data via a gated piece of content might actually work in the users favor – some might go so far as to badge content gating as a ‘hero’ in a new privacy savvy world, but we assure you there’s logic to this argument.
In order to understand how content gating can support user privacy it’s important to have a clear view of the data privacy landscape we’re all operating in right now.
Data privacy in context post pandemic
In a keynote speech delivered at a European Conference on data privacy in 2021, it was cited that data protection and privacy have become even more important in the context of the pandemic and the increased digitization of our lives. Web visitors are more privacy conscious than ever and generally dislike parting with personal information. A modern approach to data regulation with a core set of individual rights were cited as key to the response to the global challenges we face today.
In response to this challenging privacy backdrop, we’re also seeing the advent of significant, high impact privacy changes that favor consumers such as Google 3rd party cookies and Apple’s IDFA.
The ever evolving importance of data privacy against an increasingly digitized backdrop has added to the friction between user experience/data privacy and demand generation that already existed as a day to day reality for enterprise marketing operations professionals.
How are organizations responding to tighter privacy rules?
To counter these challenges, a lot of organizations are increasing their use of data enrichment tools as a workaround to supplement the information that they need when they’re unable to easily collect, store or utilize individual consumer data. The question is how ethical are the use of data enrichment services when it comes to protecting user privacy?
On the surface, bringing together data about consumers so organizations can deliver better products and services to them is fine, but it’s not watertight. Ask yourself these simple questions. Why is data enrichment needed in the first place? Why is your data incomplete? And from whose perspective is it incomplete?
There are significant differences between what businesses think of as a complete set of data, and what consumers think of as complete. And that difference represents the ethical risk that data enrichment introduces to a digital strategy. In that difference lies all sorts of issues, such as fairness, discrimination, access, vulnerability, autonomy, transparency and confidentiality.
Content gating as the ethical choice
Data enrichment removes the agency of web visitors because their information gets collected, but they haven’t necessarily made a choice to let it happen.
On the other hand, content gating is a voluntary form of data surrender that allows the user to preserve their own agency because they’ve actively chosen to trade their data for something of perceived value. This is where content gating becomes crucial to perform an ethical, user centric approach to data capture, ensuring users retain control of their online privacy by allowing them to choose what they share through a content gating form.
From a business perspective this data is also likely to be more reliable and up to date than intelligence provided through data enrichment services, meaning higher quality data sets; better quality targeting and improved conversion rates in the long run.
What’s the solution – content gating or data enrichment?
Don’t get us wrong, data enrichment isn’t inherently bad. As a business GatedContent.com manages governance and data privacy through martech on a daily basis so we’re well versed in data privacy rules, GDPR etc.
Data enrichment doesn’t directly violate any of the GDPR guidelines. The information that companies use to improve data quality is available to look up via public sources and is accessible to everyone. Data enrichment serves to build more detailed customer profiles based on the information you already have about them.
So as long as everyone involved in the data enrichment process follows data privacy guidelines, then there is no reason that it shouldn’t be compliant. That said, the company whose data needs enriching is ultimately responsible for adhering to privacy rules.
The point here is to remember content gating and data enrichment both have value. But when talking specifically about user privacy online, businesses need to remember that giving online users agency over their data privacy is always preferable to scraping data without their knowledge or explicit consent. The more autonomy and choice organizations offer to users when it comes to sharing their data will increase the chance of seeing a positive impact on conversion.
GatedContent.com’s hybrid solution
GatedContent.com was built with data at the forefront of our thinking. We have always been committed to delivering clean, actionable lead data that our clients can extract genuine value from, whilst ensuring the ever evolving data privacy rights and user experience expectations of those individuals are met automatically and without fail. There are a number of ways we make this happen:
We integrate with relevant and high quality platforms including:
- DemandBase (data enrichment);
- Dun and Bradstreet (data enrichment)
- One Trust (privacy and cookie manager)
- By default GatedContent.com will respect the privacy settings of the web user’s browser
These integrations allow the client to create smaller forms, using just the email and company name to auto-fill additional data like number of employees; annual revenue and HQ address, passing them in a hidden field, making the user experience more efficient.
You can also present all the information from the lookup to the user upfront, allowing them to choose to submit as is or update fields if they notice something out of date. This reduces friction when inputting information, but gives the user agency over their data.
Alternatively, you could present all the fields as empty and submit both explicit fields (data from the user) and implicit fields (data from enrichment services) so your sales team have access to both. This provides agency to the user and a number of options of rich data to the sales team.
If you’d like to know more about how GatedContent.com can help you deliver higher volumes of great quality leads, without compromising the data privacy of your potential customers, simply get a demo.