Every marketer worth their salt knows that connected, multi-channel, personalised experiences are table stakes now. Customers expect them, and will happily abandon brands that don’t deliver them for those that do. 

At the same time, we’re well and truly in the age of GDPR. Customers care about getting personalised experiences – but they also care about how you’re using their data to deliver them (and only 25% of them believe most companies handle their sensitive personal data responsibly). And data breaches and misuse in the news isn’t exactly reassuring them.

Marketers have become the custodians of customer privacy. We’ve been given a mandate to balance privacy and personalisation – and while more and more marketers are turning to new technologies like artificial intelligence to deliver personalisation at scale, we’re also on the hook for safeguarding customer data. 

We drilled into the data behind our State of Marketing, 5th Edition report to see how UK marketers are juggling those two imperatives – and why doing so successfully is actually one of the biggest opportunities around. 


GDPR hasn’t dampened our appetite for data.

Europe’s new data protection regulations haven’t had a noticeable impact on the popularity of data-driven marketing initiatives – rather the contrary. 

In the UK, marketers’ median number of data sources has actually risen by 50% since 2017 in order to deliver the personalised experiences customers expect.

This isn’t surprising when you consider that 79% of customers are willing to share data in exchange for contextualised experiences – and 88% will do so for personalised offers.

Marketers themselves acknowledge that personalisation improves almost every aspect of their marketing – from customer acquisition to customer retention and advocacy. 99% of UK marketers agreed that personalisation improved revenue growth, and 98% said that it improved their overall marketing programme. 


The question is, how to deliver at scale?

Personalisation at scale – in real time across channels and devices – is no small ask. That’s why marketers are turning to new technologies to help them deliver on customer experiences – with 91% considering investment in new tech a priority for their team. 

AI is one of those – usage is on the up across UK marketing teams, with 31% of UK marketers currently using it, and 40% piloting or planning to use it in the next two years. And it’s hugely versatile too – there is no one single dominant use case for it.

Whether it’s being used to suggest next-best offers based on user behaviour (62%), personalising the overall customer journey (66%), or generating dynamic landing pages (61%) – marketers are only just beginning to scratch the surface. 

In the next two years, 58% are planning to pilot the tech to personalise channel experiences and improve customer segmentation and lookalike audience modelling, for example; 56% are looking to automate customer interactions. 

And the list of possible use cases will only increase, given 90% of UK marketers have already said that their use of AI has improved their overall marketing programme. 


But the key to effective marketing is trust.

With increased focus on privacy and security not just from consumers but from regulatory bodies too, the secret to effectively leveraging AI is not which use cases you’re focusing on, but doing so in a privacy-conscious way. And therein lies the opportunity.

99% of UK marketers say balancing personalisation with privacy is a priority for their business. 

100% say complying with regional and local privacy regulations is a priority too.

And while 60% of marketers feel they are more mindful about balancing personalisation with privacy than they were two years ago, only 41% of marketers feel their organisation goes beyond regulations and industry standards to protect and respect their customers’ privacy and rights.


That’s the real differentiator – and one that’s still all to play for. 

So if you’re a marketer on a mission to deliver personalised, multi-channel customer experiences, effectively balancing privacy and personalisation could be the key that unlocks your marketing effectiveness. 


The data from this post was collected from the State of Marketing Report, 5th Edition. Check out the full report for more insights on global marketing trends – and the impact they’re having on UK marketers.