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Do you know your customers ? On the importance of data sovereignty

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On the occasion of my keynote at RTBF, I introduced the term of “data sovereignty” to justify the use of a single-sign-on system.
In today’s blog post I’d like to come back on my concept of “data sovereignty” and what it means for your business.

75% of internet trafic goes through facebook and google

In his famous article “The web began dying in 2014, here’s how” André Staltz shows that most of the internet trafic goes though either the Facebook or the Google ecosystems.
Actually 75% of all internet trafic goes to those 2 ecosystems, leaving a mere 25% of direct access to websites.

For my website for instance some 90% of the trafic comes from organic search, leaving a mere 10 of direct access. If Google changes its rules, my blog will become invisible, unfindable and my efforts of the last 10 years will be worth nothing.
Google rolls out many releases of its ranking algorithm each and every year. While most of them are minor, some are major and do affect trafic. Panda, rolled out in 2015, became famous because trafic at some sites was hit severely (see the “hubpages” example here).
Facebok too changes its algorithm on a regular basis; actually it not only changes its algorithms but also the rules of the entire game which can have some very serious consequences. Forbes listed the media that were the most hit, some losing up to nearly 50% of their trafic (like Vice.com). The LittleThings website closed and fired 100 people after Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018.

The concept of data sovereignty

With that in mind, each and every website owner should understand the very necesity of “data sovereignty”. It is instrumental to know whom you are talking to and to be able to talk to them directly. Getting their primary email address is of the essence.

How do you talk to your customers? 

After all, when you want to call someone you dial his or her phone number You don’t call the yellow or white pages, right?
When you use Google it’s like using the yellow or white pages. You are looking for someone but you don’t know how to reach him. But once you’ve reached him and have had a conversation, you should register his phone number to call directly the next time (that’s called “bookmarks”).
Unfortunately that probably doesn’t happen anymore. It has become easier to google things than to bookmark them, even if it’s always the same. I couldn’t find any evidence of it but my assumption is that browsers’ bookmarketing functionality shows decreasing use patterns. And as a matter of fact we have become etremely dependent on Google and Facebook and hence extremely vulnerable.

How do you become data sovereign ?

Data sovereignty is a long-term process which you can initiate through Facebook or Google. You need to

  • design strategies to retain people on your website, mobile application
  • start a conversation with them (through recommended content, personalized notifications, …) and get their trust
  • obtain a way to contact them (email address, phon number, account registration, …)
  • propose them directly tailored content that will make them go back

I remember a self-proclaimed web guru that declared a few years ago that social media was the future and websites were dead. The Internet has become a winner-takes-all game and in that game websites have indeed no future. This guru was so short-sighted that he actually promoted a world where nothing would subsist but Google and Facebook. Is it what we want? Certainly not. That’s why our efforts must be directed towards producing great content that will be sufficiently attractive to make people come again and again directly without intermediaries on the way.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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