The SME Guide to Optimising Transparency

The SME Guide to Optimising Transparency

In this detailed guide, KJ Dearie of Termly explores how SMEs can promote transparency through their data collection and marketing practices

By KJ Dearie

The marketing industry is built on data, whether it’s customising the user’s online experience, analysing consumer behaviour, or sending email campaigns. But with a recent onslaught of high-publicity privacy scandals, like the Cambridge-Analytica Facebook data debacle and the British Airways data breach, consumers are rapidly becoming aware of the risks that come with forfeiting their information. 

The attitude towards the collection and sharing of personal data is overwhelmingly turning towards hesitance and scepticism. Consumers fear that their privacy is being invaded and that their personal data may be at risk. With this in mind, it's important to stay ahead of the game by preempting your consumers’ hesitations and gaining their trust by being upfront and transparent about how you collect, handle, and use their data. Here are four ways to achieve this:

1. Disclose everything in your privacy policy

The ultimate act of transparency is full disclosure. Employ this method in your privacy policy by explicitly detailing your relationship with user data and advertising the policy clearly on your website. Include the following points to maximize transparency:

Not only is it good practice to disclose the above in your privacy policy for the sake of user peace-of-mind, but it’s also a legal necessity for most businesses. You’re most likely subject to comply with the extensive guidelines of GDPR. As this law was crafted for the purpose of increasing business-to-user transparency, following its guidelines is a good place to start if you’re looking to match the demands of the modern world – and avoid detrimental legal penalties.

As much of the GDPR’s text focuses on disclosing data collection and handling to users, drafting a privacy policy that clearly outlines the points listed above will help you stay in line with the regulation’s stringent requirements, while earning consumer trust.

2. Offer users control of their data

To most people, there’s nothing scarier than a lack of control. Allow users a basic command over their personal data by implementing the following measures:

Once again, these aren’t just best practices, but they are most likely legally required of you. If you market to EU residents or citizens, these tasks are mandated by the GDPR.

It's also worth thinking about if your marketing efforts involve any of the following:

If you engage in any of the above activities, you need to get proper permission from users first. Obtaining user consent is easier than you think – you can simply add a checkbox to signup pages asking users to opt-in to receive marketing materials.

Getting the green light from users to collect names, emails, and any other information you need to carry out your marketing plans will keep you on the right side of laws like the GDPR, while fulfilling your audience's call for control and transparency.

3. Be clear when it comes to products & prices

There has recently been a massive shift in consumer wariness towards marketing. People see through false advertising and hidden price tags, and instead place a higher value on honesty. It's therefore important to ensure your business is clear and honest when it comes to products and pricing:

Once you put these methods in motion, you can even use your new transparency efforts in your marketing strategies. Consumers will appreciate your commitment to operating an honest business and ridding the marketing world of some of its dark shadows.

4. Be genuine in your content

One of the latest major Google algorithm updates indicates an even greater value being put on transparency by the search engine giant – with new emphasis devoted to a site’s authority and trustworthiness.  As SEO revolves around how Google evaluates the content you put on the internet, here are a few ways to get Google-approved transparency right in your content:

Remember – changes to Google’s algorithm are meant to reflect what people want and need in order to achieve their desired experience when searching the web. So if the people demand transparency, Google will follow. Weaving honesty into your SEO strategy is a sure way to stay on the right side of the ever-powerful Google.

Marketing is often a numbers game – one in which millions of people can be reduced to a few pages of analytics. But it’s important to remember that behind those numbers and clicks and sales are real people. Ultimately, marketing is about giving these real people what they want. And what people want now more than ever is honesty.

About the Author

KJ Dearie is a product specialist and privacy consultant for Termly. She specializes in advising business owners and marketers on best business practices and strategies for complying with international data privacy laws. Her focus of late has been on the GDPR and the rapid emergence of similar legislation worldwide.