As Facebook, Apple and Google are Learning, Consumers Want Privacy … But They Want Something Else, Too


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THE PROBLEM: Restrictive on-line privacy legislation is looming in Congress … legislation that could make some of the most common methods of gathering and using information about consumers illegal.

THE SOLUTION: We need to create Reciprocity of Value-based relationships with consumers where they trust marketers to deliver more personalized online (and offline) customer experiences based on the in-depth preferences consumers opt-in to share with us.

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA) recently introduced a bill mandating that web sites must warn consumers explicitly about what data will be collected when they visit the site, why it will be collected, and how it will be shared with other entities.

Rather than debating the pros and cons of this bill or some of the well-publicized data privacy miss-steps of Facebook, Google and Apple, I would like to make a suggestion to my fellow marketers: Let’s ask ourselves: Do we honestly expect consumers to put up indefinitely with our collecting information about them…. without explaining what benefits and value we will offer in exchange for that precious information?

Years ago, many marketers expected consumers to put up with unsolicited, irrelevant telemarketing calls to their homes. Eventually, consumers had enough. That led to a nationwide consumer revolt — the largest grass-roots movement in American history, and the creation of the national Do Not Call Registry. We now have another, potentially larger grass-roots initiative: The Do Not Track movement. Both movements are a response to a deep desire from consumers, not just for privacy, but also for something that too few marketers are providing: true customer engagement and respect.

Our biggest challenge as marketers is not about technology. It’s not about social media. It’s about whether we, as marketers, are willing to listen closely to, and respect, the Voice of the Customer… and learn how customers define the ideal value exchange in his or her relationship with our company. Once that engaged, informed discussion takes place, new horizons of opportunity open up for both consumer and marketer.

The irony for marketers is that, if we give consumers the respect they want and deserve … if we actually engage in a dialogue with them about the value we want to provide in terms of relevant and targeted offers…and if we clearly explain that we need their information regarding their preferences .. they will, in large numbers, provide us with that information. This level of respect for the consumer is rare. Yet it is something today’s consumers will reward with deep loyalty and double-digit increases in purchase levels.

We need to create Reciprocity of Value-based relationships with consumers where they trust marketers to deliver more personalized online (and offline) customer experiences based on the in-depth preferences consumers opt-in to share with us. This is the essence of a true opt-in relationship.

Solid brands don’t have trouble building strong Twitter or Facebook followings, so why should they have trouble getting people to opt-in?

Based on our experience advising many Fortune companies, we know that people who actively choose to opt-in will provide rich information regarding their preferences. This detailed customer-generated information enables marketers to provide targeted and relevant communications and offers as determined by the Individual preferences of consumers. This is a major win for both consumers and marketers. Microsoft, for instance, worked with us to create a Voice of the Customer- driven program for its Small Business Relationship Marketing Program. It delivered the following unprecedented results:

Opt-in rates up to 95%

Open rates greater than 50%

Response rates performing in the double digits

Volume license revenue from those in the opt-in driven program was

2 times greater than the control group.


Develop strategies which will create far deeper engagement with customers and prospects.

Use Voice of Customer research to pre-test those strategies with segments of your customers and prospects.

Also use the VOC research to understand how your customers define the compelling Reciprocity of Value equation with your company whereby they will trust you to deliver a more personalized online (and offline) customer experience based on in-depth preference information they opt-in to share with you.

Per our experience, these strategies will generate double-digit increases in response and revenue. And … you will have established the groundwork for respectful opt-in based relationships that will last and deepen over time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


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