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Susan DeMatei
February 5, 2013 | Analytics | Susan DeMatei


I just got a new credit card in the mail this week.

Not because I asked for it, and not because the old one had expired. But because Bank of America said there were “breaches in security” and while they were pretty sure everything was OK, they were cancelling my card and sending me a new one… just in case.

That’s the third time in two years I’ve gotten an ambiguously scary-but-trying-to-be-reassuring letter from a corporate lawyer assuring me that all was find with my data…but.

The truth is, consumers are becoming more hesitant to share personal information with marketers as computer hackers and corporate scams become more prevalent.

Unfortunately, this is spilling over to the marketing. In a recent survey, customers showed a concern for giving up data not only for security and privacy reasons, but because they don’t believe there’s any real benefit in doing so.

Unless you live under a rock, consumers have a basic knowledge of the fact that they are being tracked, and they have an expectation that there will be some sort of value to this. The problem is this expectation is not being met. Combine that with foundation trust issues generated by reports of data breaches, new information gathering technologies and a rise in the total number of new loyalty programs and program activity, and the change in consumer attitudes is understandable.

That said, the reality of consumers’ biggest apparent fear seems to be diminishing. The percentage of consumers who say they have been notified of a data-related incident is 30%—down slightly from 2011, according to the 2012 LoyaltyOne Privacy Study. I wonder if what consumers deem privacy issues are really relevancy issues.

Here is the good news. Marketers have an opportunity to correct these impressions, and will be rewarded for doing so. Nearly three quarters of survey respondents who trust businesses they deal with would offer more personal information if products and services reflect the data they give, compared with 54% of those who don’t trust businesses.

This same study offered five suggestions for companies wishing to improve trust factors with consumers.

1. Prove your integrity.

Without being prompted, demonstrate your honesty and reliability to consumers.

2. Restart the virtuous cycle.

Transparently show that the data you collect is well secured. Doing so will reassure consumers regarding privacy protections.

3. Educate and explain.

Consumers are especially wary of emerging technologies, even if these technologies will ultimately lead to better offers. take every opportunity to educate and demonstrate the immediate benefits of participating in these channels.

4. Reinforce the value exchange.

Consumers need to see the benefits of sharing specific data points demonstrated to them through receiving offers of value equal to or greater than the information they have shared.

5. Demonstrate.

Offers have to be relevant, and reflect how the personal data collected from consumers is being used to their benefit.

In short, be clear about what you are doing and the value you are trying to create. And if you’re asking for personal data – use it in a way that is beneficial to your customer.


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