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:
- What data you collect
- Why you collect that data
- How you store or transfer data
- Whether you share or sell data (and to whom)
- What rights users have over their data (and how they can access or delete their data)
- Who consumers can contact with concerns about their data
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:
- Ask for consent before collecting data
- Offer users a way to withdraw that consent
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:
- Sending newsletters
- Sending promotions and/or special offers
- Sending discount and/or referral codes
- Sending webinar invites
- Cultivating a mailing list
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:
- Eliminate the element of surprise – don’t purposefully mislead consumers, and don’t leave important details out of a product description. Be upfront about the price, potential fees, and shipping costs.
- Present honest reviews and testimonials – even the bad ones. Negative reviews can help to improve your product and how you reply to these reviews in the public domain can help build your brand image.
- Let customers know what they can do if they’re unsatisfied with a product - make it a point to ensure that your company boasts a comprehensive return and refund policy where you can direct your customers’ attention.
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:
- Attach a name to your content - Algorithm analysis shows that Google wants to see author attribution on the work you put online. Not only should you be transparent about who produced any given piece of writing, but you should also be forthright about that person’s qualifications and expertise. Both Google and your site’s visitors want to be assured that the author of an article is well-qualified to educate others on that subject.
- Show people who you are - An often overlooked aspect of many websites, don’t forget to show some love to your 'About Us' page. This goes hand-in-hand with the importance Google places on authorship, in that an 'About Us' page serves to showcase who the minds behind a website are, along with their credentials. The more relevant information Google logs about any given author, the more authority the algorithm will place on that author – and the content they produce.
- Opt for an honest title - When creating your content, it may be tempting to succumb to the tunnel-vision perspective of wanting people to click on the article. While this is a powerful question to hold in your mind, don’t let this singular consideration force you to stray from transparency – as can so easily happen in the case of the infamous clickbait title. Instead, make sure your title and meta-description are true to the content that a user will find if they click on your link. Be descriptive and honest, and Google will reward you with premium rankings.
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.