Recently, Mark Zuckerberg appeared in congressional hearings to discuss matters relating to interference in the last presidential election and concerns about data privacy in general. The main issue of concern was Facebook’s methods when it comes to gathering and storing information.
During the hearings, it became clear that many lawmakers might have little understanding as to how the internet works. However, some of their questions did correctly represent the concerns that many people have. A great majority of Facebook users today wonder:
- Is my personal information being collected without my consent?
- How is that being stored and who has access to that information?
- Why do the ads I see appear to be so creepily precise at times?
- Can I control access to my personal information?
These concerns are global in fact. In Europe, a new privacy law, General Data Protection Regulation was rolled out last month, and it significantly changes requirements for businesses that collect and store customer data. The changes made are so great that it will impact many brands operating in and outside EU markets.
Of course, it shouldn’t take regulation for companies to be respectful of customer concerns. Instead, they should be proactive. This begins with approaching marketing tactics such as location based advertising with discretion, and sensitivity to privacy concerns.
Understanding customer perspectives on personalization
According to a report on CX trends, most customers find personalization to be at least a bit creepy. Despite this, brands are using personalization and localization now more than ever. For instance, “near me” searches on Google – when the user adds ‘near me,’ ‘nearest’ and nearby’ in their search query – increased by 200% in 2017. What’s more important is that 40% of brands acknowledge their approach is off-putting. That’s nearly half that are using personalization in ways that they know people will find to be disturbing.
In addition to this, social platforms like Snapchat are releasing tools that make location based advertising even easier. In spite of this, brands are better off taking a very judicious approach to targeted advertising. Here are some tips to help.
1. Implement transparency
Customers should not have to dig to find information about their data and what you do with it. When they find it, they shouldn’t need a law degree or an attorney to interpret your disclosures. Instead, make it easy for customers to request and receive this information. Then, present it in plain language that makes it easy for them to understand.
Customer-facing employees should also understand your data usage policies. This puts them in the best position to be able to explain them to customers.
2. Let your customers know why you collect the data you do
Customers tend to be less prickly about the information you collect when they understand why you collect it. If they understand that you collect and store information to present them with relevant ads for products they need, they will be much more receptive. You can even use it as an expression of commitment to customer service.
For example, your data collection statement could say:
“We collect the data that we do to provide you with the best possible experiences. This includes offering you products and services you will find most useful. This is done through the content that we present, including ads, and the online experience we create for you.”
Brands can even go into specifics about their collection of location specific data.
3. Use upfront collection methods first
People rarely get upset about your using information that they give voluntarily. This is especially true when it’s information they can opt out of providing. This can be done through polls and surveys. Brands can even include extra spaces on forms for voluntary information. Even providing customers with a field to ‘Tell us how we can serve you better’ is a great way to get information for targeted advertising without it feeling too intrusive.
4. Use data in ways that helps customers, not just for marketing
“Most people are aware of the risks of data breaches and the consequences of those,” said Michael Gall, CEO, Internet Business Solutions, Inc. “If customers feel as if their data is only being used to help you target them with advertising, that may not seem like a worthwhile risk. After all, why should they feel comfortable with your collecting and storing sensitive information if all you are going to do is use it to increase your bottom line?”
By using their information in ways that can help them, in addition to marketing to them, you can mitigate their unease. For example, a shoe manufacturer might collect information to market specific shoes to customers based on what is available at stores in their area. At the same time, they can also use that information to customize a rewards program.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may become privy to sensitive information. This includes information on personal tragedies, sexuality and gender, political views, and medical conditions. Be respectful. There is simply information that should be off limits for targeted marketing and advertising. It’s good for your business, and it’s good for your customers.