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New Privacy Changes Simplified: 3 Actionable Ways to Respond

By Josh Hansen March 3, 2022

Privacy. You’re probably hearing a lot about it these days, especially if you work in marketing. And for good reason.

Privacy-related changes in technology platforms (like browsers and mobile operating systems), regulatory actions, and consumer preferences are forcing the digital marketing industry to rethink how they collect and analyze consumer data to understand how well they’re connecting with their audiences.

While these changes make a marketer’s job more difficult, the industry shift to greater privacy is good for consumers, and people are taking advantage of these new privacy controls. How many of us click on that “Ask App Not to Track” pop-up? I’m guessing most.

The best path forward for organizations to adapt to these seismic changes is by revamping digital marketing strategies to prioritize data they collect directly from their audiences — otherwise known as first-party (or even zero-party) data.

Two people sitting at a desk looking at a computer
Collecting first-party data can help you better know and more meaningfully engage your donors, which leads to stronger donor relationships.

And while first-party data is essential for targeting audiences and tracking marketing behavior, there’s something even more fundamental to this emphasis on first-party data that every organization needs to focus on: We’re marketing to people.

Shifting to a first-party data strategy is an opportunity for your organization to build trusted, direct relationships with your human supporters at scale by collecting and using their personal data with consent.

It’s an opportunity to better know them and provide them with something meaningful as they join you in furthering your mission.

The good news is that anyone can develop a marketing strategy anchored in first-party data. Here’s a framework with a few tips to help you get started.

1. Collect First-Party Data to Better Know Your Supporters

The first step in this journey requires your organization to understand what first-party data you already have and determine how to strategically collect additional data directly from your constituents.

Organizations don’t necessarily need a lot of data to be effective, they just need enough of the right data. Having enough of the right data will require your teams to first determine the content, conversations, and experiences you want to create for your supporters.

Once you identify what data you need, make a plan for how you will collect (and protect) first-party data directly from your organization’s supporters.

Tips to consider:

  • Provide value in exchange for asking someone to share their data with you, and clearly communicate why you’re asking for this information. This could be as simple as providing email updates about the program they’re interested in.
  • Be tactful with where you gather information. Consider new opportunities where you can creatively and directly collect information from a supporter, like having volunteers sign in on an iPad at an event or embedding a survey form within an email.
  • Be thoughtful about what and how much information you ask for. You probably have opportunities to ask for more than a name and email address but probably don’t need to know where their kids go to school.

2. Use First-Party Data to Meaningfully Engage Your Supporters

This is where that vision for how your organization engages with donors, members, or volunteers comes to life.

We’ve already established that your organization is tasked with cultivating relationships with people who care about your mission. Collecting and connecting data about each supporter enables you to craft digital experiences that make them feel known and increases their propensity to feel and be engaged with your mission.

Tips to consider:

  • Segment audiences based on behavior. One of the simplest ways to begin personalizing how you engage with your supporters is by segmenting them into lists based on how they engage with your organization. This can be as simple as separating donors from volunteers for your email lists, to more complex segments like donors who gave a certain amount or who give to a specific program.
  • Customize relevant content based on interests.As you collect more information about your supporters’ interests, you can customize the content you deliver based on what you know they’re interested in. This could mean sending a program update newsletter to people who told you they’re interested in those updates. Or you can infer interests based on activity like visiting certain webpages or opening certain emails, and leverage those insights to customize the content they receive from you.
  • Leverage personal data to truly personalize communication. In its simplest form, don’t underestimate the impact of addressing somebody by name. But beyond including that first name, leveraging other information you know about your supporters can produce powerful moments to deepen those relationships. A birthday email, a local event, a service reminder, or an impact report customized to a specific donation amount are all examples of ways an organization can thoughtfully leverage first-party data to meaningfully personalize engagement with supporters.

3. Measure First-Party Data to Improve Supporter Relationships

Analytics are still critical tools for organizations to measure how their marketing efforts are driving results and understand how to improve supporter relationships with each digital touchpoint.

Marketers still want and need to be data-driven. But what does it look like to be data-driven in a privacy-forward environment?

The future of digital marketing includes a reality with fewer observable conversions. Marketers, in turn, need to shift measurement strategies to accommodate.

Organizations will need to again rely more heavily on first-party data for their measurement solutions and will also need to adapt their measurement strategies to look at data differently as the signals marketing can accurately track and measure changes.

Tools like Marketing Cloud Intelligence already offer solutions to help you adjust to these changes.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Integrate and centralize data across the organization. Integrating your first-party data from multiple sources into a single source of truth creates a holistic view of your supporters and increases the interactions you can observe. Breaking down data silos by connecting your website, email, and donation activities, for instance, improves your ability to attribute donor conversions to your specific marketing initiatives.
  • Shift to data modeling with aggregate, cross-channel data. Remember, the new marketing reality means even with a first-party data approach. Privacy controls are being given back to consumers and some constituents will still choose to keep their online activity private, leaving you with conversions that aren’t trackable. Relying on analytics solutions that ingest aggregated data from across channels and model conversions with approaches such as MMM (marketing mix modeling) provide for more privacy-durable solutions to directionally understand campaign attribution and marketing impact.
  • Measure metrics that matter. First, are the metrics you’re using to evaluate success connected to reaching your goals and objectives? Second, with privacy-related impacts to accurately tracking metrics like impressions, view-through conversions, or email opens, marketers need to shift measurement strategies toward deeper engagement metrics like click-based actions, conversions, and revenue.


That age-old saying, “the only constant is change,” is true here as well. Data privacy changes and marketing adaptation will only continue to evolve. While technologies and tactics change, growing trusted, direct relationships with your supporters should be a lasting core tenant to guide your marketing forward.

Interested in learning more about how nonprofit marketers are adapting their digital strategies? Download the latest State of Nonprofit Marketing Report to inspire your own supporter engagement strategy.

About the Author

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Josh Hansen
Josh Hansen is a Nonprofit Marketing Specialist at He is passionate about helping nonprofits sustainably grow their impact at the intersection of marketing, technology and storytelling. Prior to joining, Josh worked at Google and in ad agencies helping organizations develop and execute growth marketing strategies.