Respect Privacy to Add Profitability
Corporate marketing and privacy departments often find themselves at odds, according to a new study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy and information management research firm based in Elk Rapids, Mich. This despite solid evidence that privacy-conscious marketing strategies engender brand trust and are highly favored by consumers.
Mike Spinney, the Ponemon Institute’s communications director, says that marketers may not be aware of how strongly consumers associate brand perception with trust and privacy issues.
“Everyone, I think, understands the importance of customer goodwill,” says Spinney, “but in marketing departments, the chief privacy officer, or CPO, is still referred to as the customer prevention officer. Everyone just has to get on the same page, strategically.”
Spinney says that the Ponemon Institute was the first to study the correlation between profitability and brand trust, and that there is a quantifiable cause and effect.
“If you trust your bank to safeguard the information in your savings account, you’ll go to them later when you need a car loan or a credit card,” he says. “There’s a continued revenue benefit to them for earning your trust. But if they lose, sell or give away your information, not only will you not get your credit card from them, you’ll switch your savings account to another bank.”
According to the Ponemon study, corporations who make a point of respecting individuals’ privacy and reflect that policy in their marketing strategies, see increased profitability and brand awareness—and develop long-lasting customer relationships.
A few suggestions: Always give customers immediate opt in or opt out choices. Unless the customer chooses to opt in, treat the transaction as a one-time deal. Allow the customer to choose the preferred method of communication and frequency. It’s called permissions management, and the secret, says Spinney, is to treat the names on your lists as assets instead of commodities. The information on your lists should be as closely and jealously guarded as any other intellectual property or proprietary information your company possesses. Guard your customers’ privacy as if it were your own, and they’ll reward you.