After data from half a billion Facebook users was leaked, the company isn’t planning to tell people if they were impacted

facebook mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In the wake of news that personal information from over 533 million Facebook users leaked online, the company said it won’t inform impacted users.

The social media giant isn’t informing users because it isn’t sure which users were impacted, a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters. Moreover, since users are unable to fix the issue and the data is already public, Facebook is choosing not to identify and inform users.

The data leak included phone numbers, full names, locations, email addresses, and biographical information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries. US users made up the majority with over 32 million users impacted, with users in the UK and India representing the second- and third-most impacted regions.

The breach wasn’t disclosed by Facebook, and the company didn’t address it until Insider reported on the data trove’s appearance on a hacking forum last week.

Read more: Leaked Amazon documents detail a controversial system that insiders say forces managers to give bad reviews to good employees

In a blog post on Tuesday, Facebook product management director Mike Clark said it didn’t disclose the breach because of the way that the leaked data was obtained. Rather than a hack, Facebook said the data was obtained, “by scraping it from our platform prior to September 2019.”

In short: Hackers didn’t break into Facebook’s servers and steal a bunch of user data. Instead, the data was pulled from publicly available Facebook pages.

That may also be key to why Facebook isn’t able to determine which users were impacted. Clark said that the data is suspected to have been scraped using Facebook’s contact importer tool, which was available to all users.

Without Facebook telling its impacted users about the data breach, third-party services like “Have I been pwned” have filled the void – here’s how to see if you were impacted in the breach.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s phone number appeared among the leaked data of Facebook users, according to a researcher

mark zuckerberg facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s personal information appears to be among data posted on a hacking forum.
  • A cyber researcher said Facebook’s co-founders also had their information exposed.
  • Insider’s Aaron Holmes previously reported the leak, which affected more than 500 million users.

The cell-phone number of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is among the personal information leaked online in a low-level hacking forum, according to a researcher.

Multiple outlets reported the claims about Zuckerberg’s leaked personal information. Data including his name, location, and marriage details, birth date, and Facebook user ID was exposed, The Sun stated.

Insider’s Aaron Holmes had previously reported on the leak, which involved the personal information of more than 500 million Facebook users being posted in the forum.

Cyber researcher, Dave Walker, said Zuckerberg, as well as Facebook Inc’s co-founder, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz, were among the 533 million users who had personal data posted on the forum.

“Regarding the #FacebookLeak, of the 533M people in the leak – the irony is that Mark Zuckerberg is regrettably included in the leak as well,” Walker tweeted.

When Insider contacted Facebook on Sunday, a spokesperson said: “This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.” They did not comment on the reports about Zuckerberg’s information.

Holmes reported, however, that the posting of the entire dataset on the hacking forum for free could now make it widely available to anyone with rudimentary data skills. His report quoted Alon Gal, CTO of cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, who first discovered the entire trough of leaked data online on Saturday.

Previous Facebook privacy breaches include the much-publicized Cambridge Analytica saga. In that incident, personal data from over 87 million Facebook users was improperly obtained by the political data-analytics firm.

Facebook was hit with a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission as part of a settlement over claims the company mishandled user data.

The company has vowed to clamp down on data breaches. In a post on its website in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, it said it would take action on potential past abuse and putting stronger protections in place to prevent future abuse.

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Facebook stock jumped more than 4% after Mark Zuckerberg said Apple’s privacy update will help the social media giant

Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook stock climbed 4.1%, closing at $290.11 on Friday, after Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on Clubhouse.
  • “I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday.
  • The Apple iOS 14 software update allows users to opt-out from being tracked.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook stock climbed 4.1% on Friday after CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed his tune on Apple’s imminent privacy update.

The social media company had been fighting with Apple over the changes for months, but Zuckerberg reversed course this week and said he actually thinks the new policies will help the social media giant. Shares rose following the comments, closing at $290.11 on Friday.

“I think the reality is that I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation, Zuckerberg said in a discussion Thursday on Clubhouse. “And we’ll be in a good position. I think it’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position.”

The Apple iOS 14 software update will require app developers including Facebook to request permission from users before tracking them through Apple’s Identified for Advertisers (IDFA).

“Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct commerce on our platforms, by making it harder for them to basically use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” Zuckerberg said during the Clubhouse talk.

Facebook has been pushing back against the Apple iOS update since August. The company said in a blog post that the changes will impact its Audience Network by limiting its ability to deliver targeted advertising, which will slash its revenue on iOS up to 50%.

“This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately Apple’s updates to iOS 14 have forced this decision. We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future,” the blog post said in August.

During the Clubhouse discussion, Zuckerberg said that these changes will affect small businesses and developers. “I just think it’s one of the reasons why Facebook has been a bit outspoken on this is, there are certain principles that we care about and empowering individuals is one of them,” he added.

Apple has hit back at Facebook’s criticism, telling Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton it was standing up for its users by creating the new privacy features.

“Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites – and they should have the choice to allow that or not,” an Apple spokesperson said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What is a digital footprint? How to protect yourself online, and keep your data from being used against you

professional working from home on laptop smartphone
It’s important to know what kind of traces, or digital footprint, your online activities leave behind.

  • Your digital footprint refers to all the personal data and information available about you online.
  • Your active digital footprint includes your emails, social media posts, and other messages with your name attached.
  • Your passive digital footprint is information you unintentionally leave behind, like your IP address.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

As the internet is deeply entwined in almost every aspect of modern life, it’s difficult to avoid having some kind of presence online.

The degree to which you leave traces of your online activities is referred to as your digital footprint – it’s akin to the evidence you might leave behind after going camping, such as remnants of a campfire, your dinner scraps, and the path you carved in the woods while hiking.

In the case of your digital footprint, the evidence you leave behind is data. This footprint tends to fall into two major categories, depending on whether you’re leaving an “active” digital footprint or a “passive” one.

How to delete yourself from the internet with 5 different methodsWhat is spyware? 5 ways to protect your computer from being infectedWhat is doxxing? Here’s what you need to know, including how to protect your personal informationWhat is a cyberattack? A guide to the different methods cybercriminals use to harm computers and steal data

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Period apps are a privacy nightmare – should you still use them?

menstruation app data protection 2x1
  • Period-tracking apps collect incredibly intimate data about their users.
  • They also have a track record of shaky privacy practices.
  • Insider spoke to an expert about what happens to do your data – and whether you should use the apps
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When you tell an app about your period, it’s hard to know exactly where that data is going.

Period-tracking apps offer clear health benefits to users, allowing them to track and anticipate symptoms, as well as providing an aid for people hoping to conceive. They are also hugely popular – period tracker app Flo has more than 50 million downloads on the Google Play store. Its next big competitor Clue has more than 10 million. It’s a competitive market, and even Apple launched its own period-tracking app in 2019.

Unfortunately, menstruation apps also have a track record of throwing up big privacy red flags. 

This manifested last week, when popular period-tracking app Flo reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after the FTC alleged it shared sensitive user data with third parties including Facebook and Google – a practice that was revealed by a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2019.

Stories like Flo’s leave users wondering: do the health benefits of using a period tracker outweigh the privacy risks?

Privacy International in December published an analysis of how five period and fertility monitoring apps (including Flo and Clue) moved their users’ data around.

Eva Blum-Dumontet, the researcher who led Privacy International’s report, said even though she has been studying the field for years, she was taken aback by just how much data the apps stored about their users. This included the contents of notes on users’ masturbation habits and how frequently they go to the bathroom.

Carrie Walter, general counsel at Berlin-based Clue, said the amount of data Clue processes is no cause for concern.

“The fact that every interaction with the app generates data stored on our servers is neither surprising nor inappropriate. We are a cycle tracking app, dedicated to providing our users with personalised insights about their wellbeing based on the data they track. We could not provide this service if we did not store the data that people choose to input,” she said in an email to Insider.

Could your data be used to target you with ads?

Exactly what happens after apps collect this data and pass it on can be fairly opaque, especially to consumers. This makes it hard to confirm definitively whether information you give to a menstruation app could be used to target you with ads elsewhere on the internet.

Privacy International report found some period-trackers, including Clue, were sharing data with third parties. This data isn’t being used elsewhere online, but it can be used to target users with ads inside the apps.

There is functionality behind this; some period apps process their users’ data in order to target them with articles – for example if a user frequently gets oily skin around their period, the app will give them skincare advice.

While Privacy International’s research showed some of the third parties processing period-tracking data included big household name tech companies like Amazon and Google, Blum-Dumontet said that isn’t a big concern for her, as Amazon and Google provide very rudimentary services such as web hosting.

She instead pointed to a handful of companies that showed up in her research, which specialize in profiling and targeting users including Braze and Amplitude.

“What they are offering as a service to those apps is to be able to target and to create a profile of you – and again that’s not to say the profile will be shared with others, but it is using your data to target and and to build a profile and expectations of what you want to see, what kind of ads you should be receiving,” she said.

In a statement to Insider, a spokeswoman for Clue said the app doesn’t send these companies any health data, and that they are used for internal analytics and functions including in-app messaging and notifications. She added that Clue is in the process of building an internal analytics tool to replace Amplitude.

“This is part of our broader roadmap to replace third party services with self-built tools whenever possible,” the spokeswoman said.

Walter emphasised that none of the data entered into Clue into ad networks, and that Clue does not allow outside advertisers to target people inside the app.

“We are a company that needs to pay its own way, so we do use ad networks for online marketing. But, again, the crucial point is in the detail: we are extremely careful with users’ health data. It never goes to ad networks, nor do we use it to target ads on behalf of others in our own app,” she said.

Could your data be passed along to medical insurers?

Blum-Dumontet said there was no evidence in her research that data from menstruation apps is being passed along to entities like medical insurers, and in the UK and EU countries data protection laws forbid companies from repackaging data for purposes other than what users consented for it to be used for.

In the rest of the world – including the US – regulation is less robust, and Blum-Dumontet thinks it’s possible menstruation app data could end up feeding into companies including insurers. “Outside of the European Union or the UK it’s essentially a data wild west, and yeah this is definitely a scenario that could happen,” she said.

Blum-Dumontet doesn’t want to see period-tracking apps eradicated, and she doesn’t even think users should necessarily delete their apps.

Read more: Pioneering femtech startup Elvie is bringing Apple’s model to women’s health despite coronavirus disruption

“Meeting people who use menstruation apps it’s always the question that comes up […] do I have to delete it. And my answer to that question is: if it is useful to you no, don’t delete it,” she said.

She believes it’s the companies, not the consumers, that need to change their behavior.

The first change she thinks they should implement is designing their apps to store and process data locally on users’ phones, rather than siphoning it off to a central server where they have access to it. Secondly, she says apps can minimise the amount of data they collect in the first place.

“We really have to ask ourselves what data is essential for the app to function. They also have to ask themselves what services are essential,” she said.

The period-tracking app industry has already shown some signs of shifting. In 2019, Privacy International discovered some apps were sharing alarming amounts of intimate data with Facebook, and developer behind menstruation app Maya modified its app to stop this.

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GOP politicians lost tens of thousands of followers after Twitter purged QAnon accounts. Here’s who lost the most.

Silhouetted figures stand before large Twitter logo
GOP officials lost thousands of followers after Twitter’s purge of QAnon-related accounts.

  • GOP elected officials lost thousands of Twitter followers over the weekend, as the company cracked down on QAnon accounts in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots.
  • Insider analyzed the Twitter followings of the entire GOP congressional caucus and every Republican governor tracked by Social Blade. 94% have lost followers since January 6th.
  • More than 100,000 of Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rand Paul’s followers were purged or defected. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s Twitter following dropped by more than 80,000, and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s dropped by more than 70,000.
  • Reps. Clay Higgins and Devin Nunes lost the largest share of their followers, with each shedding more than 15%.
  • Congress Democrats did not experience comparable declines, Insider found. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Nearly every major GOP elected official has hemorrhaged Twitter followers since the company cracked down on QAnon accounts following last Wednesday’s riots in the Capitol, according to Insider’s analysis of the lawmakers’ public profiles. Republican congressmen lost nearly 6,000 followers on average over the weekend, with some legislators’ follower counts dropping by more than 100,000. 

Twitter announced on Tuesday that it had permanently suspended more than 70,000 accounts from its platform. “Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon,” the company said. 

The announcement came days after Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, his former attorney Sidney Powell, and 8chan founder Ron Watkins-all of whom have played a prominent role in amplifying QAnon content. They and other banned accounts, Twitter explained, were “engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.”

Twitter took action shortly after banning President Trump himself over a pair of tweets, published during the Capitol riots, that it said were “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021.”

The large scale of lesser-known removals did not go unnoticed. Prominent conservative figures, from Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Dave Rubin and Bari Weiss, publicly complained about losing followers. 

The vast majority of Republican officials lost followers after Twitter began purging QAnon-related accounts

Insider analyzed the Twitter followers of 248 GOP congressmen and state governors, using data collected from Social Blade. Our analysis, which does not include newly-elected congressmen who took office on January 3, 2021 or less influential officials not tracked by Social Blade, found that 94% of major GOP elected officials lost followers in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots.

Democrats, meanwhile, did not experience the same declines. Business Insider performed the same analysis on the Democratic caucus’ Twitter accounts and found that 93% lost no followers over the weekend. Those who did lost no more than 0.15% of their followings.

Dozens of Republican congressmen lost more than 10% of their entire Twitter base, including outgoing Senator Kelly Loeffler, who enthusiastically accepted an endorsement from QAnon supporter and House freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene ahead of Georgia’s runoff Senate races. Reps. Clay Higgins and Devin Nunes lost the greatest share of followers, each shedding more than 15%.

By sheer number, Rep. Jim Jordan, Sen. Rand Paul, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy topped the list of legislators who lost the most, dropping by 149,564, 115,770, and 88,627 followers respectively between Thursday and Monday afternoon.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota – who reportedly greeted Trump with a replica of Mount Rushmore bearing his likeness in August – lost more than any other state governor. Twitter’s clampdown cost Noem nearly 48,000 followers, about 12% of her total following on the platform.

A small minority of Republican politicians emerged unscathed from Twitter’s crackdown. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah attracted 24,100 followers over the weekend, while Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois picked up more than 50,000  – a 41% gain.

Twitter’s wave of suspensions only partially explains why Republican officials lost so many followers

The figures cited above are significantly higher than Twitter’s stated number of removed QAnon accounts, suggesting additional factors at play, such as the routine removal of spam bots, or a loss of public favor brought on by the attack on the Capitol.

“It is against the Twitter Rules to engage in spamming behavior, including bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity. That’s why we routinely deploy anti-spam challenges to accounts to fight this behavior and protect the public conversation,” Twitter said. Such removals are temporary, and accounts are restored once the owners verify their authenticity.

Despite outcry from conservatives online, some of whom referred to the measures as the largest online purge in history, Twitter has reacted with greater severity and less transparency in the past. In 2018, the company revealed that it had suspended more than 1.2 million accounts associated with publishing terrorist content since 2015.

Twitter declined to comment. Most officials highly impacted by Twitter’s recent action did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Rep. Clay Higgins told Insider, “This purge is just Twitter’s latest abuse of power. It’s a suppression of free speech. Twitter wants to completely silence Conservative voices. It’s part of the Left’s ongoing effort to cancel anyone they deem unworthy.”

We will update this article if we receive additional responses.

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How to destroy a hard drive after removing it from your computer, so that its contents can never be recovered

computer hard drive internal
If you want to be sure your hard drive’s data is never recoverable, you can physically destroy it.

  • You can destroy a hard drive by wiping its contents and disassembling its parts for ultimate security.
  • If you’re donating, selling, or recycling a computer, you’ll want to make absolutely sure you’re not giving away the personal and private information on your hard drive.
  • Here’s how to disassemble and destroy your hard drive with just a few common tools. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

When you’re selling, donating, or recycling a computer, it’s critical that you ensure you’re not accidentally giving someone else access to your personal and private data stored on the computer. One way to do that is to thoroughly wipe (not simply erase) your old hard drive – for details on how to do that, see our article on fully wiping your computer’s hard drive

You can go further, though. For the ultimate personal security, you can remove the hard drive from your computer before you give it away and destroy the drive. That’s not as hard as it sounds, and ensures your old data is completely inaccessible to anyone ever again. 

The tools you’ll need to remove and destroy a hard drive

You don’t need much to disassemble and ruin a hard drive:

  • A Torx screwdriver to open the case
  • A flathead screwdriver to pry open the case
How to destroy a hard drive 1
The only unusual tool you need is a Torx screwdriver (not everyone has one in their toolkit).

How to find and remove the hard drive from your computer

Start by removing the hard drive from your PC. If you have a desktop or tower PC, unplug it and remove the cover or side panel (some cases are toolless and you only need to loosen some restraints, while others might require a screwdriver to remove screws). 

Look for the hard drive, which will be inserted in a drive bay or screwed to the side of the chassis. In most cases, you can simply disconnect the power and data cables and slide the drive out of the computer, but it might be screwed in place, in which case you’ll need to use a Philips head screwdriver to get it out of the PC.

If you have a laptop, you might need to refer to your user guide or contact the laptop’s customer support for information on how to remove the hard drive – the access panel might be on the bottom of the case or you might need to remove the keyboard to reach the hard drive.  

How to destroy a hard drive the fast way

If you’re in a hurry, you can damage it in a way that only a dedicated hacker will be able to recover any data.

1. Flip the hard drive over so you can see the main circuit board. 

How to destroy a hard drive 2
The fast way to render a hard drive unusable is to remove the exterior circuit board.

2. Use a Torx driver to unscrew the circuit board using the four Torx screws.

3. Remove the board, break it in half, and discard it. 

How to destroy a hard drive 3
Unscrew and remove the board.

4. Now you can recycle the hard drive knowing that someone can’t simply connect the drive to another PC to read its data, so it’s safe from casual users. 

How to destroy a hard drive the thorough way

If you are going to take the time to get your Torx driver and remove the circuit board, you might as well be thorough, since it only takes another five minutes to completely destroy the drive. 

1. Remove the Torx screws around the outside edge of the top plate on the hard drive case.

2. There will usually be one additional “hidden” Torx screw under the paper label. Feel around with your finger for a depression and then use a flathead screwdriver to tear the label away. Then use the Torx driver to remove the final screw. 

How_to_destroy_a_hard_drive 4
Most hard drives have an additional Torx screw under the paper label.

3. Pull the top plate off. You’ll probably need to pry it off with the flathead screwdriver. If it’s extremely hard to remove, make sure there isn’t an additional screw holding it together. 

How to destroy a hard drive 5
Use a flathead screwdriver to pry the top plate off.

4. Now you can see the hard drive platters – there might be several of them stacked atop one another, each with its own read/write head which looks sort of like a phonograph’s tone arm.  

How to destroy a hard drive 6
Once you remove the cover, you can see the tone arms and platters, which are also held in place with more Torx screws.

5. Continue to disassemble the internal components by removing the tone arm and the platters themselves. There will probably be about three Torx screws on the spindle holding the platters in place.

6. At this point, the very act of exposing the platters to air and handling them with unprotected fingers has almost certainly destroyed the data on the drive. To be thorough, use a flathead screwdriver to scratch the surface of each platter. Now anyone would be hard-pressed to recover anything of value from this drive.

How to destroy a hard drive 7
Remove the platters and scratch them to make data recovery impossible.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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4 Data-Driven Digital Marketing Tactics to Embrace in 2021

The new year is fast-approaching, so it’s high time that we evaluate our marketing strategy and come up with tactics to shake things up.

Digital marketing is one of the fastest-changing industries out there – is your marketing strategy agile enough to adapt?

There have been multiple marketing innovations introduced in 2020 (driven by both technology and the pandemic that has changed all the aspects of our lives), yet one trend is the most prominent one: Data

Never before have brands had access to so much marketing data that includes:

  • Internal / private data (customers’ emails, buying preferences, etc.)
  • Public data (like competitors’ identifiable marketing tactics, overall shopping trends, etc.)

You don’t need to be a data scientist or invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in data collection agencies to create a data-driven marketing strategy these days. Thanks to the Internet, big and small brands can access more data that they can process.

And it is a beautiful thing because it gives a competitive advantage to smaller brands that are eager to innovate.

Here are a few data-driven tactics anyone can implement, even without technical skills:

Improve Your Data Quality

Data: Brands lose up to 20% of revenue due to poor data quality practices (Source: zdnet/ Data Quality)

Sisense defines data quality as follows:

Data quality measures the condition of your data, using factors such as accuracy, consistency (in all fields across data sources), integrity (whether the fields are complete), and usability.

How to identify poor data quality? There can be a variety of factors including:

  • Is your data consistent? In other words, if it’s coming from different sources (which is usually the case), does it correlate?
  • Is your data relevant? In other words, are you using the data that helps your company’s bottom line? If you are using Facebook likes as the measure of your success, what exactly does this data do to help your revenue grow?
  • Do you collect the data you need? Does your company have the necessary data that would foster growth?

Improving your data quality is not just necessary, it’s also quite doable. There are multiple solutions that collect, organize and blend data to turn it into actionable insights delivered to each of your teams. The two easiest and the most affordable solutions include:

  • Cyfe (create dashboards to consolidate data and deliver most relevant data to each of your teams)
  • SE Ranking (pull lots of data from various sources to monitor your site health, positions, traffic, etc.)
  • Whatagraph (turn data into visualized email reports that are delivered to different teams within your organizations

Whatagraph

Embrace Inclusive Marketing

Data: Over 25% (i.e. one in 4) of US adults have a disability (Source: CDC / Disability & Health Infographics).

Are you including these people in your target audience? Do you create marketing personas that would include a disability?

Inclusive marketing refers to adapting technologies and messaging to enable underrepresented groups to fully connect with and experience brands online.

In web context, inclusive marketing often means making your website accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities and difficulties. These disabilities may prevent web users from being able to see page elements or navigate a site using a mouse or touchpad.

Including these people into your marketing strategy is not only a smart move (otherwise, every fourth user of your site may have hard time navigating it or making a purchase). It’s also a way to show that you care. This means making your marketing philanthropic.

The good news, it is also pretty easy to implement. You don’t have to re-design your site to make it accessible to users with disabilities. You can easily optimize your site for just about any sort of disability by using a solution called accessiBe.

accessiBe

There’s also a DIY way to make your site accessible but it is likely to take you some time.

Use Cross-Channel Marketing

Data: The number of channels consumers are using to make a buying decision is growing. Just over a decade ago the average consumer used two touch-points when buying an item. Four years ago consumers were already using an average of six touch-points with almost 50% regularly using more than four. (Marketing Week / Why marketers are failing to target consumers at key life events)

Many of those touch-points tend to happen on different devices and through different channels. Millennial shoppers shop from mobile devices,

For example, a contemporary consumer will search Google before buying an item after seeing a social media ad. And these two touch-points are very likely to happen on different devices.

What does it mean for businesses?

They need to be everywhere.

You should also be diversifying your content strategy with a wide array of types, in order to reach the highest potential audience, on more channels. This will also help your project build authority, which is critical in retention, churn reduction and overall brand loyalty.

Yes, have a blog. It is a great SEO tool and you should already know how to be targeting keywords by now. But in addition to this, make videos, create infographics, launch a podcast, guest on other podcasts and YouTube channels, embrace newer networks like TikTok and Instagram, and contribute to other blogs. You should be producing diverse content constantly to be able to market to different channels.

Luckily, content re-packaging tools make this process easy and affordable for brands:

  • Venngage: Turn any text into an infographic
  • Haiku Deck: Turn any text into a slideshow
  • InVideo: Turn any text into an engaging video

InVideo

[Invideo allows you to create videos for Instagram and Facebook ads, customize Youtube videos to brand them better, and more!]

Personalize Your Marketing

Data: 80% of people agree that they are much more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences (source: Epsilon Marketing / The impact of personalization)

Marketing personalization is one of the most powerful tactics out there, yet many brands don’t really understand it.

Marketing personalization is going far beyond using “the first name in the marketing email” or even “segmenting your email list by previous engagement”.

Marketing personalization is about creating on-site personalized experiences.

You are scrolling through a website and you see a handful of product suggestions on the bottom. It shows a strip of items that you can tell are based around people of your gender and your age, much of it not flattering. Mainly because it is a selection of products that you have never before purchased or needed to purchase, but that someone might assume a person of your target demographic would enjoy.

Or you are going through your email and catch sight of a message that is titled, “[Your Name], I need to speak to you right away!” Upon opening it, it is a generic, uninteresting automail from someone’s newsletter you forgot you had even signed up for. You roll your eyes and hit ‘delete’ without going any further.

The above examples show how you lazily customize to fit a potential customer. Is it any wonder the fish aren’t biting when the bait is so unappetizing?

Now imagine this:

You are on that same website and below is a collection of items you have been searching for price comparisons on all week. Others are items related to what you have purchased on the site in the past, or reviewed highly elsewhere. They are even within a decent price range of your usual budget.

Later, you are going through your email and there is a newsletter you forgot you signed up for. But rather than cheap clickbait, it has a subject line about something that interests you. You take the time to click and read the whole thing and even end up back on the website through a provided coupon for an item you had put in your cart a few days before but hadn’t pulled the trigger on because of the price. Now you are getting it for 15% off and you couldn’t be more thrilled!

Notice how each of the counterexamples totally changes the consumer experience and makes them more willing to engage with your brand. All because you showed them that you were actually paying attention to them as individuals, not a category or demographic. They are people, not walking dollar signs and stat sheets.

That is the true meaning of personalized ecommerce and when done correctly, it is a great way to generate leads that turn to profit and also build a relationship with your customer base.

Marketing personalization is becoming more and more available for smaller brands that lack huge budgets or technical teams. Finteza is a web analytics platform that comes with a powerful re-marketing solution allowing you to customize users’ experiences based on:

  • Source of traffic
  • On-site actions
  • Demographics (gender, age)
  • Location

Finteza

What’s more important, it is extremely easy to set up and very affordable.

What’s the real moral or takeaway here? Marketing innovation is a never-ending process. You can never consider this task done, but it is also what makes digital marketing such an exciting industry. Good luck innovating and reinventing!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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The post 4 Data-Driven Digital Marketing Tactics to Embrace in 2021 appeared first on Social Media Week.