Legal, Ethics and Privacy 1

Privacy is the No. 1 concern of Internet users.  And with all the heaps of data marketers can now collect on consumers online and in social media, those concerns are only going to increase.

To get a better understanding on what role consumer privacy concerns should play in brand marketing strategies, CMO.com did some research. We found that privacy isn’t something brands are willing to talk about, as both agency and brand execs we reached out to declined to comment. So we scoured the Web and found that companies need to be open and honest with consumers on how they’re using data to inform marketing and why targeted advertising is better than the “spray and pray” approach. Here’s what we dug up:

According to MIT Sloan Management Review:
Many large companies have privacy officers who set rules for managing data and audit compliance with those rules; however, hiring a privacy officer is usually seen by senior managers as a compliance cost. A company that respects the relationship with its customers, on the other hand, would think of the privacy officer as a strategic role and would establish a framework of consumer privacy controls as a key marketing and strategic variable.

There are three strategies that companies can follow to transform touch points around privacy into a positive customer experience:

  • Develop user-centric privacy controls to give customers control.
  • Avoid multiple intrusions.
  • Prevent human intrusion by using automation wherever possible.

According to Entrepreneur.com:
Think protecting customer privacy is only an issue for business giants like Facebook and Sony? Think again.

Many small companies have lost customer trust or even been sued over privacy mishaps in recent years. And they’re likely to face more problems as digital data files grow in size and importance to modern business.

You are legally, if not morally, obligated to treat your customers’ private personal data respectfully and fairly. But protecting customer privacy need not be a drain on your company. Done wisely, it can create customer goodwill and even lift sales, while reducing business and legal risks.

Such a strategy involves more than securing a network from hackers and posting a boilerplate privacy policy. Here are seven steps that can help you build a comprehensive and effective privacy plan

Michael Peterman, founder and CEO of VeraData, told DM News:
As a country, as a world, as legislators and consumers, how do we balance Big Data and consumer privacy? How do we protect individual privacy, while taking advantage of the economic benefits of micro-targeting? Considering the raging debates in Washington, it is prudent that we, as an industry, make clear to the world how and what data is being used by commercial entities. It is critical that we, as a society, understand how our information is being used so that we can make informed decisions, have intelligent debates, and ultimately vote in such a way that maintains and enhances our economic strength.

According to Business2Community.com:
As marketers we know that demographic information is beneficial to consumers because it helps to target our messaging and ultimately provide a better experience for consumers. In fact 90 percent of execssurveyed said they’re dependent on consumer data for their marketing efforts. Brands don’t want to waste consumers’ time by sending them irrelevant emails. For example, a single woman doesn’t want to receive emails about diaper sales on Amazon.com but a stay-at-home mother would be eager to receive those emails.

There is also an element of convenience to information storing. When a brand asks to store personal information online, like a credit card number, it’s easier for consumers who frequently shop on a site. Although there are many positives of collecting consumer information for targeted advertisements and email marketing, there are a few ways that brands can ensure that consumers’ personal information is safe. Here are a few tips for brands to consider with their privacy strategy:

  1. Let your consumers know you value their privacy and publicize what you are doing to keep their information secure. Prominently display BBB-certification and other security logos on your Web site and dedicate an entire page to your privacy policy. This will give your Web site additional credibility and build trust in your brand.
  2. Let consumers know when their information is being disclosed. If you plan to use their information for one reason or another, tell consumers at the time you’re asking for the information. For example, have a sign at the cash register, a note at the bottom of a receipt, or a pop-up window on your site before they check out. Also, offer the opportunity for consumers to decline to provide certain information or opt out of the database.
  3. Tell them why you’re asking for their information, and be honest. Many brands ask for consumer’s date of birth to send birthday coupons. Some brands need consumers’ zip code and license number for their return policy because they use return tracking services, like The Retail Equation (TRE) to fight crime. Best Buy, for example, includes their disclosure information and an explanation of how TRE works on their Web site.

I give it a 4/5.

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