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Gabe morazan headshot Posted by Gabe Morazan October 15, 2019

How a privacy-first mentality can turn risk/compliance matters into marketing gold

In a hyper competitive market, marketers are looking for any way necessary to differentiate from one another to gain customers. According to a new Gartner report by Nader Henein, Sr. Director Analyst, Practical Privacy — A Definitive Guide to Privacy UX,* “Simply put, your customers are more inclined than ever to cross the road over to the competition and, in some cases, pay a premium if that is where they believe their personal data will be best cared for.” The report goes on to say, “Privacy is becoming a conviction-based motivator similar to ‘organic’ and ‘cruelty-free.’”

In the face of increasing amounts of data breaches, as reported by TechRepublic, we believe consumers are looking for companies that take data security and data privacy seriously and agree that “trust” in a brand to do the “right thing” makes up a major consideration when purchasing products. For brands eager to turn what has traditionally been seen as a risk/compliance matters into opportunity for growth, there’s potential here.

Privacy UX

We’ve written in the past about the need for brands to analyze and understand the privacy user experience (UX) of their customers and the opportunity presented to differentiate. Beyond just simply complying with data privacy laws, we strongly believe brands can highlight their efforts in being “privacy-first” in order to show a commitment to social responsibility and earn consumer trust and loyalty. To start, we suggest taking a look at your privacy policy as it’s typically the first place a user goes to learn about data practices. Ask yourself a few key questions:

  1. Is your company’s privacy policy written in a way that’s transparent and meant to be easily understood by your customers, or is it just the standard legalese required by your compliance team?
  2. Is it echoing your “brand voice” or is it a copy-paste from a Word doc that your legal team sent you?
  3. Is it clear on how data is being used, why it’s used, and what, if any, options a user has to exercise their rights under the various data privacy laws?
  4. Does it reflect your brand design guidelines, style, and fonts or does it feel like a neglected part of the site?

Consider that because of the numerous data privacy laws requiring explicit mention of your privacy policy, it’s very likely that you’re seeing more traffic to this area of your site than before. As such the same level of attention given to the rest of your sites should apply here as well. Keep in mind that this level of commitment to privacy-first practices can benefit your brand’s reputation in the same way that your typical Corporate Social Responsibility programs do. And in an age where “woke” consumers are empowered and looking for brands that share their ideals, you only stand to benefit from taking privacy seriously.

Consent and preference management

A key element of any privacy-minded program is providing the necessary controls and disclosures of data practices to your customers. If all you’re doing is telling them about your data practices without any clear controls in place for them to exercise their rights, then you’re failing to build trust – and likely running afoul of data privacy laws in the process. How else can you look to earn the trust of your users if you’re not giving them a choice or say in the matter? “We collect your data and there’s nothing you can do about” isn’t exactly the most consumer-friendly message out there, but in reality that’s what consumers hear when brands list out the data practices and then direct the user to clear cookies or to visit a third-party site to manage their preferences. Consider that “we value your privacy” means more than just simply listing what you do with the data; it requires that you provide the necessary protection and controls so that a consumer truly feels empowered and is more likely to share their data with you.

The market is rapidly changing and consumer expectations, driven by high profile data breaches, are evolving. Gone are the days in which consumer data can be freely harvested with little to no thought given to what a consumer might think. Instead of looking at this as the end of an era, instead consider it the dawn of a new age and use privacy-first practices as a way to build consumer trust, gain brand-loyalty, and help differentiate your brand.

*Source: Gartner, Practical Privacy — A Definitive Guide to Privacy UX, Nader Henein, 20 September 2019 (report available to subscribers).