Elevating Your Privacy Policy to Attract Customers

Data privacy. It’s increasingly become a concern for customers, especially over the past year, with a 2021 study finding that 64 percent of consumers are more concerned about privacy than ever. There are significant risks of privacy breaches as a result of today’s online-focused ecosystem, which only became more prevalent as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, recent headlines such as T-Mobile’s data breach, which involved stolen data for 50 million of their customers, has proven just how delicate data and privacy situations really are.

It’s not just about the risk of hackers accessing confidential information. The growing focus on privacy policy has many consumers wondering why companies have so much data on them, which is often acquired during online cart checkouts or through making an online account. Consumers are well aware that companies are acquiring more information than ever before, and are growing suspicious of how companies are using this data, in a time where data is becoming more and more profitable, and sensitive to online risk.

Since a consumer’s trust in a company is at the center of their decisions to purchase, leaning into the curve of privacy policy concerns and appealing to a consumer’s trust is the way to go moving forward. How? Well, a good first place to communicate your commitment to their privacy is to look at your company’s privacy policy and how well it communicates your values.

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Share it all upfront.

It’s a good rule of thumb to answer potential questions a customer could have in the privacy policy, as to diminish any lingering suspicions.

Top questions include:

  • What personal information do you need from them, and why? It’s useful for customers to know that you only need their email address to send them updates about their order, not because you’re going to make a profit on selling your mailing list in a few years. (Oftentimes, if you don’t tell them WHY upfront, they’ll jump to those conclusions because of a few bad experiences or daunting headlines.)
  • Under what circumstances would their personal information be shared outside of your own transaction? This one is up to you and your company policy, but if you do share personal information with third parties, it needs to be disclosed. Again, rely on consumer trust as your guiding principle. If you think the way in which you share their personal information could erode the trust they have in your company, it might be time to change up the policy… by first changing up your strategy.

This, of course, has many exceptions, which customers are open to as long as they understand. So, if you do share personal information with a third party but it is part of the service you offer them, explain this in plain English.

  • Include further disclosures about any automatic data collection tools, such as cookies and tracking technologies. This is another sneaky way that data breaches can occur.

Add brand tone into the policy.

Even if all of this information is shared thoroughly in a policy, a customer can still be wary if it isn’t readable. Sure, data policy can incorporate a great deal of legalities, which could be a great opportunity for legal jargon. Keep in mind that the average customer can’t connect with this language, and it will leave them with more questions.

Additionally, since your privacy policy will have more eyeballs on it than ever before, take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate your brand’s voice. What creative decisions guide your marketing materials? Is it on-brand to have some tongue and cheek phrases in the privacy policy, or write it as if you’re writing a quick email to a colleague?

This in itself sends a message to the customer: you want them to read the privacy policy, because you have nothing to hide. Their personal information is in willing and capable hands with you.

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Put the power in the customer’s hands.

Customers want to know that they can change their minds at any given time. Many transactions do require taking their personal information – but after a transaction is completed (and the order has been fulfilled, or they’ve canceled their subscription), customers should reserve the right to request a data deletion.

Take advantage of space in the privacy policy to explain how this works to the customer – and, again, in plain English. It should be clear as day to anyone who reads the policy how they can go about requesting personal information deletion. This builds further trust with your customers: the feeling of choice and control can make all the difference, especially if they’re wary, to begin with.

Other reasons customers may want control of their data include the ability to request access to their information (to see what you own on them) or to correct the information. The easier you can make this process, the better. Ideally, this process won’t only be hidden in the long text of your privacy policy. Be sure to embed aspects of the policy throughout your entire website, or offer a dedicated privacy center or form where customers can access this information. This proves that it’s one of your company values to put the choice and control back into the hands of the customer, and promotes the overall ease of their relationship with your policy.

As more of the world’s business becomes centralized online, data and personal information will continue to become an increasing priority. When your company leans into the curve and is upfront, accessible and transparent about your data collection and privacy policy, customers will take notice: earning their trust in your company and gaining their business.

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