Building Consumer Trust: How to Turn Data Privacy into a Marketing Advantage

Posted on Jun 15, 2020 · 6 min read

Had the authors of the US Declaration of Independence seen our day, they may have added data privacy to the list of “unalienable rights”—and for good reason. Every online interaction leaves a digital footprint of who you are, and this data is often tracked, collected, and sold without our knowledge or explicit consent. 

Brands that don’t respect data privacy or fail to secure personal data lose customer trust. And once you lose customer trust, you’ve lost a customer. In one survey, 73% of US adults said protecting personal data is “very important” when it comes to brand trust

And nearly two-thirds of global customers believe misusing personal data is the main reason for mistrusting tech companies.

Successful Brand Relationships Are Built on Consumer Trust

Customers won’t do business with a brand they don’t trust. Whether it’s conscious or not, they need to know that:

  • The quality of a product will be as good as advertised.
  • If they order online, the brand will actually deliver it.
  • The brand will address any issues—quickly, effectively, and graciously.
  • The exchange will be worth the hard-earned money spent on it.

Confidence that a brand will deliver this kind of service is why Amazon is so popular. 

“Amazon has earned our trust by delivering the products we want, on time, intact, in the same branded brown boxes—consistently,” said Anthony Smith, the founder and CEO of Insightly. 

And he’s right. Eighty-nine percent of Amazon shoppers say they’re more likely to buy from the brand than other e-commerce sites.

But Customers Are Wary of How Brands Use their Data

Brand trust is more than a reliance on quality products and prompt delivery, however. It’s an assurance that a company will ethically collect, use, and store the personal data required to build memorable customer experiences.

The Consumer Technographics® Benchmark Survey, Part 1, 2020 from Forrester Research reveals marketers have much to do to bolster that confidence: 58% of US consumers are concerned about their online behaviors being tracked, and only 21% feel safe sharing their personal information online.

And a McKinsey survey found that three in 10 US customers use ad-blocking software, and 71% said they would quit doing business with a brand if it shared sensitive data without permission

A deeper dive reveals even more dismal results. Customers were asked to select an industry they trusted the most when it comes to protecting data and privacy and nearly every one failed.

New Study Shows Marketers Know Consumer Trust Is Key

A new study conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by SheerID finds marketers recognize that building consumer trust is critical to their success. In fact, 85% report wanting to be a leader in establishing trust with consumers and believe upholding privacy is a cornerstone of trust. 

And 82% report that privacy concerns were impacting their results. They understand consumers want a brand to respect their data, and want the right to deny access to that data when a brand takes advantage of it.

Brands Are Trying but Have More Work to Do

Marketers may want to build customer trust, but their data privacy strategies don’t reflect that.  Only 36% of marketers report that their data collection practices are privacy-friendly and build trust with the consumer.

In one experiment, a data journalist analyzed the length and readability of nearly 150 privacy policies and found that the “vast majority” of them exceeded the college reading level. No wonder word-weary consumers simply want to “click and continue” without learning exactly how their data will be used. Or worse, leave altogether.

And only 31% of companies are fully compliant with privacy requirements, such as the CCPA’s right to opt-out of the sale of personal data and GDPR’s opt-in consent for email marketing and cookies.

To comply with GDPR, for example, numerous websites have posted a “cookie consent” banner. But a new study suggests many cookie consent pop-ups actually “undermine” the privacy law.

“[It’s] shocking…how non-compliant interface designs are allowed by the companies that provide consent pop-ups,” the study’s lead author told TechCrunch. “Why do they let their clients count scrolling as consent or bury the decline button somewhere on the third page?”

5 Principles to Establish Consumer Trust And Build Relationships

To rebuild consumer trust, brands need a better way to collect personal data, one that honors data privacy as an unalienable right. The premise is simple: approach buyers as if you wanted to start a relationship with them—which is exactly what you’re doing.

01 Be Transparent

Be honest and direct in your communications from the start. Don’t hide your intentions, or ask consumers to infer what you mean. Instead, invite them into the exchange by explicitly asking for their consent.

02 Ask for What You Want, and Make It Reasonable

Only ask for the most basic information you need, just like you would if you wanted to get to know someone. Things like: what’s your name? What do you do? What type of things do you like?

If you work on building the relationship, you can earn the right to ask more detailed questions about their preferences and buying interests in the future.

03 Give Them a Reason to Say Yes

Find out what your customers like, and create an enticing offer that incentivizes them to enter into a relationship with you. Offer real value that motivates them to willingly share their data. For example, you can give them a special offer, like Rothy’s does to learn if they are a teacher or health worker.

04 Allow for Autonomy and Free Choice

As much as you’d love a positive response, detach from the outcome. Give the customers a chance to opt-in—and be prepared to walk away if they decline.

05 Openly Acknowledge the Beginning of the Relationship

Deliver your offer, and let them know you want to do it again. Welcome customers when they say yes, setting the stage for a mutually beneficial relationship built on trust.

Consumer Trust Is within Your Reach

Trust is a foundational element to business success, and marketers are recognizing that data privacy is a linchpin to building it. Now is the time to clarify your privacy stance and use marketing strategies and tools that give consumers:

  • The value they want.
  • The control they’re entitled to.
  • The equal standing they deserve.

When you do this, you launch a relationship that’s healthy and has the potential to last a lifetime. 

You can learn more about what 210 B2C marketers are doing and saying by reading the full study from Forrester Consulting.

Read the Study: Put Identity Marketing In the Center of Your Personalization Initiatives — Marketers See Opportunities to Market to Identity Attributes to Drive Acquisition and Build Trust.

Bill Schneider by Bill Schneider