Consumers say they want companies to be much more transparent about the way they use personal and location data. But how can brands put this into practice?
Consumers are sharing more data with brands than ever before, every time they tap ‘OK’ or tick the box marked ‘Agree’, they’re handing over data about themselves, their social lives, their media usage, their shopping habits, and even their precise location. But at the back of their minds, they still harbor concerns about it – mainly because it’s not clear how much data is being shared, or why!
That’s the picture painted by a new study carried out by global research association ESOMAR and Here Technologies, with research partners BuzzBack Research and Cint. Although consumers’ data is clearly of great value to marketers, the research shows that people want – or in fact, NEED – companies to be more open about how they use that data. The current situation has left consumers confused and mistrustful, but a more transparent approach could be a major driver of trust and loyalty.
So how can companies get it right? Here are our three top tips.
One thing consumers in our survey are crystal clear about is that brands have a responsibility to tell us when they’re using our data. Ninety percent of US respondents agreed on this, and the figures were fairly consistent the world over. People want to know what data companies are using and what they’re doing with it, but also why it’s necessary for them to share their data in the first place. If you simply claim that you need blanket access to personal data without specifying why, not only are people less likely to play along, but you’re also chipping away at consumer trust.
Our research shows that if you leave questions unanswered, people will be anxious, but that if you’re clear and candid, they will be cooperative. Two-thirds of US consumers say they are likely to share their data if the data collector is clear about why it is needed and how it will be used. Make it clear and upfront… NOT on page 72 of the T & C’s !!
Forty-one percent of people in our survey agreed strongly that they would be more willing to buy or use services from companies that handle data the right way. If your business relies on consumers handing over their personal data, then it’s on you to demonstrate to them that you have earned that trust. That means showing that you take a responsible and ethical approach – but that’s not all. Even ethical companies can suffer data breaches, so you should also show that you are serious and competent with regard to digital security. Being a member of an organization like ESOMAR is a big step forward on both these fronts. Stick to your word – don’t make false promises!
Show People What’s in It for Them
Telling consumers that you’re using their data – and explaining how – makes a big difference. But the next question from consumers will be: what’s in it for them? If you’re really only collecting data for your own benefit, then you may struggle to get people to hand it over and to retain their ongoing trust. Be clear with consumers about what they will get in return for access to their personal information. Most people like to feel they have contributed to something new, improved or reframed – let them know it!