How Can Marketers Gain Their Customers’ Data Privacy Trust?

March 21, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Metrics | Brand-Related | Customer-Centric | Data-driven | Privacy & Security

Trust is critically important to brands, and with consumers feeling an increasing loss of control over their data, the protection of consumer data is a fundamental building block of trust in businesses. The latest edition of the CMO Survey [pdf] finds almost 4 in 10 CMOs surveyed believing that customers would switch from a brand they are loyal to to a different brand that offers better privacy protections.

Indeed, separate research finds that more than 8 in 10 (85% of) marketers believe respecting customer privacy would be a competitive advantage, with half feeling it would be a substantial advantage.

As a result, marketers are engaging in a variety of actions to try to increase trust in their brand in the face of privacy concerns. The most common action is to promise not to sell customers’ personal information, as reported by 63% of respondents. Almost 6 in 10 (58%) likewise say that they ask consumers to consent to their company’s use of their data (“informed consent”). Beyond those, about half are also investing in technology infrastructure to reduce the likelihood of a data breach (52%), investing in increasing trust in their brand’s reputation (51%), and making their privacy policy easy to understand (51%).

Despite taking these actions, it appears that marketers aren’t too worried about customers’ privacy concerns. On a 7-point scale (where 7 = very highly and 1 = not at all), respondents rated their worry a middling 3.8 when it came to 3rd party data raising customer privacy concerns.

Overall, a slight majority of the senior marketers surveyed believe that managing customer privacy is part of their marketing job, rating that degree of responsibility a top-3 box score on a 7-point scale (where 7 = very highly).

Dealing with the Demise of 3rd-Party Cookies

About 3 in 4 marketers believe that their use of 1st party data will increase over the next 2 years, up from roughly 6 in 10 (61.5%) who believe that their use of this data increased over the past 2 years.

This stands in stark contract to 3rd party data: fewer than 4 in 10 said their use of this data increased over the past 2 years, and even fewer (30.5%) feel that it will in the next 2 years. This should portend a lesser reliance on 3rd party cookies, which more than 8 in 10 respondents to a recent study said were still at least somewhat important to their strategies.

In the wake of 3rd party cookies disappearing, almost 6 in 10 respondents have created a stronger data strategy to capture better information, while half have invested in innovations to engage with customers directly. Only 1 in 4 have offered customers incentive to provide access to their data.

Privacy Notices Useful, but Unused?

Almost 1 in 2 marketers surveyed believe that privacy notices increase the likelihood that their customers will think highly of their brand, and more than one-third believe these notices increase the likelihood that their customers will stay loyal to them over time.

However, very few feel that customers actually pay close attention to those notices. In fact, fully 95% do not believe that consumers have carefully read the disclosures and allowances, and 9 in 10 do not believe that consumers have a clear understanding of what the privacy notification means to them.

There is some hesitation on consumers’ side when it comes to blanket acceptance of policies, though: a recent study from YouGov revealed that only 3 in 10 adults in the US agree that they always “accept all” when a website asks them about cookies.

About the Data: The results are based on a January-February survey of 320 top marketers at for-profit US companies, 96.6% of whom are VP-level or above.

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