Consumer privacy is considered a fictional concept by many given the modern world of the internet, social media and ready access to data brokers. What may be surprising to some consumers is how easy it is for brands to profile consumers and hyper target them with ads.
Even before the Facebook privacy scandal related to Cambridge Analytica, brands faced a declining trust in institutions. Now organizations should proceed with greater caution as they use consumer data. Without careful handling of data, consumer trust will likely erode further in years to come. Organizations should do three things immediately to help themselves down the path of maintaining and then regaining trust in brands.
1. Begin assessing how your organization is using consumers’ personal data and information. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What personal data do we possess?
- Where and how are we acquiring this data?
- What data and from where are we buying, renting, accessing, appending, etc.? How are these sources acquiring the data?
- How are we using this data to target messages to consumers?
- Do consumers know what data we have about them, and how we’re using it?
- Do we offer consumers control over how we use their data?
2. Audit your communications related to the use of consumer data. Ask yourself:
- Are we overtly communicating what data we have about consumers, and are we clear about how we use it?
- Is the language we use to communicate easy to understand, concise and readily available?
- Are we asking for consent to use consumer information?
- Are we allowing consumers to learn what data we possess and how it’s being used?
3. Create a strategy for the use of consumer data that builds transparency throughout the consumer journey. Allow consumers to easily understand what personal data you have, and how you plan to or already have put it to use. Build mechanisms for consumers to opt-out and have their data deleted. Or better yet, allow them to opt-in prior to use.
Without first fully understanding your organization’s current data practices, you won’t know where you have opportunities to improve. Transparency and the act of giving consumers control over the use of their data are key first steps towards rebuilding trust.
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