By Tom Fricano

Over the past two years, we have experienced a significant shift to online commerce. Not only are these voluminous transactions regulated by privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA, businesses are also receiving customer backlash related to poor customer experiences.

This transformation of interacting with customers online has called for greater strategy and technology capability, in which the balance between data collection and customer experience must be established to succeed. In fact, the very practice of how businesses collect customer data will either build or destroy customer trust.

Why is consent and preference management becoming more important?

Customer consent is important because it grants permission for brands to provide marketing or service communications with prospects and customers, hence, comply with regulations. While customer preferences such as product interest, channel preference, and frequency of communications help brands understand what’s best for the customer based on their wants and needs.

Preference management is also important, as constant collection of customer data will help drive the brand’s revenue, marketing efficiencies, and other KPIs. We all sign up for newsletters, product information, promotions as well as lifestyle preferences related to things such as travel. Therefore, it is important for all customer-facing departments (e.g., marketing, sales and customer service) within a business to make it easy for customers to indicate and change their preferences as their interests evolve over time.

Companies today are spending millions on marketing technologies that enable seamless customer consent and preference management. Research firm Allied Market Research estimates that the consent management industry will represent $2,271.1 million by 2030, up from $318.3 million in 2020 and registering a compound annual growth rate of 21.9 percent from 2021 to 2030.

Not all preference and consent providers are equal

While many businesses are realizing they need these critical technologies to enhance, refine and preserve the overall customer experience, they should do their homework when selecting the right preference and consent management technology provider to work with – as not all have the same capabilities.

All-in-one may not mean best solution

At first glance, there are a handful of enterprise-level technology providers that do everything from customer relationship management to marketing automation to preference management. These cloud-based software companies have the look and feel of a “Big Box” provider and offer a suite of applications in their own customer data platform to help companies manage all aspects of their business and maintain relationships with their customers.

The allure of working with a provider such as this is the single vendor, “all-in-one” solution where there are often no additional costs or integration required for a core platform. However, what they gain in their one-stop allure, they often fall short in truly satisfying the need for depth of functionality, configurability, regulatory compliance, and the ability to activate data across-platforms.

Specialty vendors can build custom solutions

On the other hand, specialty providers that focus on consent and preference management solutions offer a more holistic approach that includes strategy, best practices, process, and governance in addition to technology. They often start by interviewing their customer’s customer to understand what’s truly important to them. With this insight in hand, they can design a holistic solution that meets both the consumers and organization’s needs. Then they are ready to manage the deployment process and help gain adoption. This greater internal and external adoption leads to increased customer engagement, improved marketing ROI and higher revenue potential. In short, providers that offer strategic and professional services can help you get far more out of the platform than you can realize on your own.

Along with internal adoption comes the ability to help integrate preferences for customers across the entire organization and its many departments — a critical function that can be missed by “big box” providers whose offerings aren’t designed to meet this unique set of needs. As a result, this leads to a single view of the customer, greater customer trust and assurance of regulatory compliance.

On the surface, listening to customers and honoring their preferences is not only obvious, it’s a must in today’s customer-driven business climate. Every business today must listen to their customers and the outcomes are immediate and apparent. As digital environments grow increasingly more complex — along with the penalties introduced for non-compliance — businesses of every size, and in every region must rely on the right solutions. Digital transformation of collecting customer consent and preferences is an iterative process that will continuously change and adapt to an ever-evolving marketplace, but it is now up to each individual business to determine the right provider to work with for the right set of unique solutions.


Tom Fricano is the Senior Practice Director of Strategy and Consulting at PossibleNOW. With more than 25 years of experience, Tom assists clients with customer experience, preference management and consent initiatives through advisory and strategic consulting, technology expertise and project to product to implementation roadmaps.

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