Best Practices for Securing Your Brand Online
According to research firm Jupiter Media Metrix, at the end of 2006 more than $24.5 billion worth of sales were lost in the online marketplace due to consumers' concern over privacy and security.
"There is a lot of money being lost and left on the table right now because consumers are concerned about their security in the online space," said Lou Mastria, vice president of public affairs and chief privacy officer at cooperative database solutions provider NextAction, who moderated a panel about online security and privacy at DMA07 in Chicago earlier this week. "But there are practical things that can help mitigate some of these risks."
The panel, titled "Secure Your Brand Online ... Increase Consumer Confidence and Sales!," included Janet Eden-Harris, CEO, Umbria Inc.; John Tomaszewski, vice president of policy and compliance, TRUSTe and Igor Vaks, senior vice president, Experian Consumer Direct.
The panel offered the following best practices.
1. Don't take a mass approach. "If your brand is being attacked in the blogosphere, you can either sit back and ignore it and wait until it blows over, or take a proactive approach and do outreach to the people that are attacking you," Eden-Harris said. "But what does not work in the blogosphere is to try to take a mass approach in a very intimate medium ... Of course, always offer full disclosure."
2. Plan for the worst-case scenario. Igor Vaks said a key best practice is to always prepare for a worst-case scenario -- especially as it relates to data breaches: "Always make sure that your preparedness packages and systems are up to date," he said. "Always ask yourself, 'Am I compliant? Does my company have the budget to cover any potential data breach that it may have?'"
Mastria added: "I talk about this all the time with my clients and even internally. Even though we have all the firewalls up and we have a number of security systems in place, we still need to have scripts that are ready, we still need to run through the drills, we still need to make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing."
3. Use trust, security and hacker-proof seals and certifications. According to Tomaszewski, when online sellers use well-known seal programs, they not only see an increase in adoption and retention, but also "a higher dollar amount that people are willing to pay."
For example, according to Tomaszewski, one of TRUSTe's customers, CourseAdvisor.com, an online research directory for career training, professional development and postsecondary education, used an A/B test and found that it received $20,000 in extra revenue when using the TRUSTe seal.
Mastria also said that, earlier this year, National Geographic, a leading multichannel marketer with an online presence, used an A/B test over several days to test ScanAlerts's HACKER SAFE symbol and program on its Web site. The symbol assures Internet security.
"And what did [it] find?," Mastria asked the audience. "A 6.8 percent increase in sales by using Hacker Safe. [This was] a simple market-based solution to increase sales."
But increased sales is only part of the story.
According to Mastria, marketers should take these tips very seriously because by ignoring them, "at the end of the day, it's the marketer who loses, with increased costs associated with call centers, increased costs from opt-outs, increased customer-acquisition costs, increased refunds, increased chargebacks - and all of those eat at the bottom line."
He concluded: "And I haven't even mentioned, by the way, your brand equity goes down the toilet as well."