Pollution, Privacy Policies, and the Future of Marketing in the Digital Age

By: Anna Wagenhauser
Pollution, Privacy Policies, and the Future of Marketing in the Digital Age

When I started working in marketing almost six years ago, the strategies for engaging an audience weren’t all that different from what we use today.

I was an intern at a marketing agency that focused on supporting SMBs in southwestern Ohio. We analyzed their competition, reviewed brand standards, and created plans for touchpoints – email marketing, social media, direct mail, content creation, and digital advertising – to help the client increase brand awareness and gain market share. When implemented, these strategies made a huge impact on the client’s business and gave them excitement and hope for the future.

Looking back on those early days in my career, there is one major factor that has changed – the market’s saturation from these digital marketing activities. As organizations of all sizes catch onto how digital marketing can be an amazing tool for sales enablement, it has also led to a fog of digital pollution that prospective customers deal with on a daily – if not hourly – basis.

Digital pollution has gotten to the point where global corporations like Apple, as well as the State of California, have implemented regulations to protect customers from being “spammed” by marketing outreach.

As a Manager of Marketing who works at a business growth agency, hearing about these regulations can be scary. I can’t help but think – “With these new rules, can we still create sales enablement and help our clients grow?” The answer to this question is a resounding YES. But in order to explain why, it takes a deeper understanding of what is currently being implemented to prevent digital pollution and taking the time to connect with the true meaning of growing your business.

The Apple That Fell Away from the Tree 

It’s no surprise that Apple, one of the world’s most influential brands and the creator of the iPhone, is a powerful player in the conversation on digital pollution, privacy, and marketing. In 2020 alone, Apple sold 194 million iPhones, 71 million iPads, and 20 million Mac and MacBook units. So, it is easy to assume that many of your sales and marketing prospects are using an Apple device to view your collateral.

During Apple’s WWDC 2021 event in early 2021, Apple announced privacy focused updates that would greatly influence the current marketing atmosphere.

One of the changes that has already rolled out is that iPhone and iPad users will now encounter pop-ups in their apps asking whether the user allows the app to “track activity across other companies’ apps and websites.” This will influence organizations like Facebook and Instagram – and companies who advertise through these platforms – who often use remarketing to show you ads for similar products or services you have previously been viewing.

The caveat in this conversation is the fact that prior to Apple implementing these laws, the majority of consumers’ data was (and still is) being collected and sold by third-party advertisers and data brokers. In fact, Apple says that the average app has six trackers harvesting your data so that organizations can predict and influence purchasing behaviors. And to be honest, being forced to go into your settings to turn off ad personalization is not an ideal option for consumers to opt-out of this tracking.

In addition, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature in iOS 15 will allow users to hide specific data such as their IP address or email opens. This data has become standard for sales and marketing professionals to measure touchpoint effectiveness and follow-up on email opens. While researching solutions to this predicament, the articles I found stated that marketers who wanted to continue using current email and digital ad routines needed to look at email click-through-rate instead of open-rate as a measure of success. However, I think many marketers are looking past the bigger picture – our current strategies need an overhaul.

Great Oaks Grow from Little Acorns 

How do you grow your business with these new rules in place?

While the analogy about little acorns may sound cheesy, the reality is that marketing practices in 2021 have become automated and un-personalized. The little acorns are the personal touches, the research and understanding of each individual prospect’s situation and needs, and the human interaction that builds long-term strategic business relationships.

To understand this, put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. For me, I tend to delete mass marketing emails immediately when they hit my inbox. My day-to-day is busy, and the last thing I want is for some random marketer or sales professional to be splattering their content to my inbox to see what sticks.

If this is the case for you as well, then it is hypocritical to think that others will accept that same type of un-personalized solicitation via email, social media, or digital ads remarketing.

The first step is to recognize that people buy from people. When you reach out over the phone to say hello, or write a hand-written note thanking someone for their conversation, you are acknowledging that their time is limited and valuable, and that they chose to spend their time with you. By sending a personalized email to a prospect with a blog article you think may be useful to them, you are respecting their humanity and the struggles they may be facing in their role.

At COACT, our core philosophy centers on using marketing as brand building – with quality human interaction, relationship development, and relationship management as the driver. We are experts at profiling buying systems and positioning buyers and sellers to build prosperous business systems. 

When organizations like Apple implement data restrictions, content constriction, or opt-in requirements, it takes a higher level of talent, tools, and process for your organization to connect with prospects and build awareness. COACT offers this solution to an often-times bewildered business community – providing an integrated approach to sales and marketing that will build brand awareness and relationships with your buying audience while limiting digital pollution.


COACT specializes in relationship development and management systems. Our team of business development and marketing professionals are experts at prospecting, pre-qualifying, and positioning strategic business opportunities for our clients – one quality interaction at a time. To learn more about how COACT creates strategic long-term growth for businesses around the world, contact us to schedule an introductory call.

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