Today’s consumers are fickle. Privacy online is one of their main concerns; however, at the same time, they want to have a personalised experience from the brands that they interact with.
From a business perspective, the competition for consumer attention has never been fiercer, and personalisation is essential in order to break through the noise and get noticed. In fact, according to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalised experiences. What’s more, 72% of consumers say they will only engage with personalised messaging.
Taking this into consideration, it’s not surprising that 89% of digital businesses are investing in personalisation. However, while this approach undeniably enhances the customer experience, and as such, the performance of a company’s marketing campaigns, businesses that are using this tactic have to be careful. Storing information about customers and prospects can be risky; if this data is misused or handled incorrectly, the business may face serious repercussions.
Why Personalisation is So Important
90% of consumers are willing to share their personal details and behavioural data with companies in order to get a cheaper and easier experience.
Consumers are constantly sharing various pieces of their own information online when they are buying and researching products, and they will share their information online and agree to privacy policies that they haven’t even looked. At every stage of the buyer journey, this information is being collected by a number of interested parties.
However, while consumers are readily willing to give up their information, they also expect that their data is protected. Today’s consumers are more informed than ever about the risk of sharing their data, and they know how severe the consequences can be if their information falls into the wrong hands. As such, the majority of online users today are taking steps to ensure their safety and privacy online. It is also vital for businesses to ensure they are doing all they can to protect the customer data that they are collecting, storing and using.
Why Privacy Is So Important
When customer information is stored online, it is vulnerable to falling into the wrong hands and being misused for fraud, such as phishing scams and identity theft. Online privacy is necessary in order to protect information as well as to prevent customers from being exploited by businesses. Key pieces of information that are commonly stored by businesses, such as employee records, customer details, loyalty schemes or transactions should all be protected with online privacy protocols.
Organisations across the world are all too aware of the importance of data protection. Governments, industries, and private companies globally are implementing privacy regulations and policies, and failure to comply can have serious consequences. Violating data protection laws can see the business and business owners being prosecuted.
Walking the Line Between Privacy and Personalisation
In 2017, Stanford University released research that was conducted on 3,000 students, aiming to understand their privacy preferences finding that the majority of the undergraduate students studied were willing to give up their private data for an incentive. This research also applies to the average consumer; while many consumers talk about their need for privacy, they will often give it up if there’s something in it for them.
The role of marketers and the wider business is to serve customers. This means that they should always have the customer’s best interests in mind. So, should they be more focused on the consumer’s privacy or on providing them with the extremely personalised experience that they want? The answer is both.
Businesses don’t want to waste time and money targeting the wrong people, and customers clearly want a personalised experience. As such, from a business perspective, collecting data and tracking online behaviour makes sense. What businesses and marketers should be careful of, is what they do with this information.
The following are some tips that businesses holding personal consumer information should follow.
- Follow reasonable security measures to ensure that the personal information of customers and employees is protected from unauthorised access.
- Be aware of all the personal information that you are collecting, as well as where you are storing it, how it is being used and who can access it.
- Don’t collect information that you don’t need, as having more information can make you a bigger target for hackers.
- Ensure you are using the latest security software, web browser and operating system, as this is one of the best ways to protect against viruses.
- Use multiple layers of security, such as a spam filter and firewall.
- Educate employees on data protection, as they are most often the ones that are handling customer data.
Consumers may be conflicted about privacy, in that they are cautious about their data but willing to give it up for the right price. Marketers, however, should be extremely concerned about privacy. Going forward, marketers should address the privacy concerns of their customers, and ensure they are transparent with their use of data. Any personalisation that is involved in marketing campaigns should be carried with this in mind.