Consumers Only Give Brands One Chance to Get Data Privacy Right

Three ways to establish and preserve trust with your customers

Consumers are sick of headlines about data-privacy violations, and in some cases, experiencing them firsthand. In this new environment, consumers are only willing to give brands one chance to protect the integrity of their data if something goes wrong.

In fact, nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers said they’d stop using a brand altogether if it were dishonest about its use of customer data, according to new research from Acquia.

And despite GDPR and the myriad of state-by-state protections like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) designed to safeguard data privacy, consumers still don’t feel fully protected. The onus is on brands to build better relationships with customers, instead of the data collection free-for-all that has slowly eroded trust.

From costly fines for privacy violations to permanent customer losses, the stakes have never been higher. Here are three ways you can solve data privacy issues before they start, based on real consumer sentiments.

1. Ignorance is not bliss

Consumers are increasingly wary of the way their data is handled online. And yet despite the legislation designed to increase transparency, they remain largely in the dark. A shocking 65% of consumers don’t know which brands have access to their data, and another half have no idea how their data is being used, the Acquia research found.

Instead of keeping your data-sharing practices behind closed doors, you need to put consumers in the driver’s seat of their own data. Give visibility into exactly how your organization uses the data it collects and help consumers understand the tradeoffs they make in exchange for personalization.

The decision to share personal information might feel risky to consumers, so providing more transparency gives them a definitive say in how their relationship with your brand evolves.

2. Take it slow

Your instinct might be to quickly reengage with a customer when you first collect their data, but a slow and steady approach could be more effective.

Over half of consumers (59%) wait at least a month before sharing data with brands. Respect this time and fight the urge to inundate a customer’s inbox too soon. With that said, it’s hard to personalize communications with limited data. Focus on cautiously refining communications with the customer as the relationship evolves. More sophisticated personalization tactics can be incorporated as customers share more data and make purchases. This strategy takes time, so resist every urge to rush the relationship.

3. Take a lesson from brick and mortar

Almost half (49%) of consumers are more comfortable giving personal information to brands with a physical store presence, according to the Acquia study. If that’s not an indicator that internet trust may be waning, then what is?

To solve for this sentiment, digital brands like Amazon and Warby Parker have taken a counterintuitive approach and established a physical footprint.

Of course, that strategy isn’t practical or right for every company. Instead, think of a neighborhood restaurant where the owner knows your name and what you want to order before you ask. Interactions like these rarely feel intrusive because real people are involved.

Purely digital brands can do the same thing by going above and beyond to satisfy customers’ needs and using real people to engage whenever possible. Fortunately, with push notifications, chatbots, and social media, brands have more channels to talk to customers in both convenient and authentic ways.

No matter what, remember that you only get one chance to get privacy right. If you make a mistake, it’s hard to get redemption—establishing a strong foundation of trust could mean the difference between preserving the customer relationship and saying goodbye forever.

As Acquia’s CMO, Lynne Capozzi oversees all global marketing functions including digital marketing, demand generation, operations, regional and field marketing, customer and partner marketing, events, vertical strategy, analyst relations, content and corporate communications. Lynne is one of Acquia’s boomerang stories, first serving as CMO in 2009, leaving in 2011 to pursue nonprofit work full-time, and returning in 2016 to lead the marketing organization into its next stage of growth.