What messages is your brand sending to consumers when they visit your site? Are you telling them things about the way your company views your customers without realizing it?
No doubt you've spent a lot of time thinking about your brand values, and the best way to express it via carefully curated digital experiences. But are your data privacy policies sending another message to customers, prospects and audiences?
It's a question worth asking, as privacy has become a top concern for all consumers, which gives you the opportunity to leverage it to differentiate your brand.
Consumers Really Care About Privacy
Consumers care very much about their personal data, and they have big concerns over what happens to it once it's collected.
How do we know that?
A recent study by MAGNA surveyed more than 2,500 consumers and shows that nearly three-quarters of them "highly value" data privacy. In fact, 82% said they're concerned about how their data is gathered and used. It turns out that the cookie banners they encounter when arriving at a website for the first time don't do enough to allay their fears (which isn't surprising given how confusing and over-technical many of them are).
More importantly, it's clear that consumers recognize when a brand collects, uses and sells their data without their permission, and are distrustful of those brands as a result. This is a shame given the high cost of acquiring a new customer. Why waste all of that investment by not having your privacy house in order?
On the flip side, companies that have solid and transparent data privacy in place are poised to win and cement customer loyalty. What's interesting is that consumers are quite willing to share their data with a brand, as long as they understand why you need it, how you'll use it, and are assured that you won't use it for any other purpose. In other words, they care about transparency into your use of their data.
They also want control over their data, meaning that if they ask you to stop using parts of it, or delete some or all of it, they want assurances that you will respect their wishes.
Through our survey and numerous conversations we've had with both consumers and brands, it's obvious that people understand why brands need their data, and that they benefit when they disclose it. They just want to know the value exchange upfront, and to be the ones to decide how their data is used.
Respecting Consumer Data Privacy is a Smart Business Move
You can expect to reap rewards if you take the time to explain your brand's data practices in plain English, and offer the tools that empower your users to control how their data is used. Consider this:
Nearly half of consumers said they trust a brand more, and 43% said they'd favor that brand over others in the same sector.
Over one-third (37%) said they'd spend more with that company, and 15% went so far as to say they'd pay more to shop with that brand.
Now is a great time to get your privacy house in order. Let's look at three best practices that allow you to do just that.
Given that people are concerned about how their data is used, make transparency your mantra. Explain how you will use their data and protect it against unauthorized uses.
Privacy is one aspect of building a solid relationship with your customer. Your visitors may be willing to share their data if they understand the value exchange (e.g. share your email address to receive timely offers when new merchandise arrives). As the relationship strengthens and trust builds, the consumer may be willing to share more data, such as their mobile number, to receive SMS marketing messages from you.
In this respect, privacy becomes a foundation for building relationships with your customers.
Personalized Preference Center
We've mentioned throughout this piece that consumers want control over how their data is used, but it turns out they have a clear vision of how that should look. According to the MAGNA report, people favor personalized preference centers with clear and easy to understand privacy choices written in plain English (or Spanish, French, Korean, and so on). A vastly improved experience over the cookie notices consumers encounter when they arrive on a website for the first time. Smart brands already give them control over their marketing and communication preferences, why not do the same for privacy?
Cookie banners don't cut it, they're difficult to understand and don't get to the heart of what you're doing with data. For example, clarity on what you're doing with data e.g. analytics or personalized experiences vs do you consent to cookie GA-4578.
Thought and Effort into the Privacy Experience
Think about the privacy experience as carefully and thoughtfully as you did when designing your overall digital experiences. Privacy isn't effective if it's just a bunch of legalese that people click on quickly because they're in a hurry to get to your website.
Your privacy experience is an expression of the values that you share with your customers. Make sure your policy is written in a way that allows them to identify with it. Additionally, make sure your privacy preference center is easy to locate on your site so that consumers can easily find it. These steps will help build confidence in your brand.
Finally, back up privacy promises with responsible data practices. For instance, it's one thing to tell people they're free to opt-out of targeted advertising, it's an entirely different thing to follow through with that promise. Keeping your promise will require that all of the point solutions in your tech stack can accept and honor those privacy requests, of course.
Do this and you'll gain consumer trust and enable your brand to use data to fuel your growth. The study showed a 23% increase in purchase intent with responsible data practices. Clearly, consumers are craving this kind of approach.
About the Author: Jonathan Joseph is the Head of Solutions and Marketing at Ketch, a platform for programmatic privacy, governance, and security. Passionate about innovation, his career is focused on disruptive technology and organizational change. He serves on the Board of Directors at Reel Works, which builds opportunities for diversity and inclusion in media, through a platform that empowers underserved NYC youth to share their stories through filmmaking, creating a springboard to successful careers.