Privacy Isn’t going Anywhere: 3 Steps Brands Need to Take Right Now

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A thirty-second commercial for a commonly prescribed medication allocates ten seconds – a third of its airtime – for a voice-over listing potential side effects at rapid speed. The same product runs a print ad and leaves a third of the page for mandatory ISI – important safety information. Both marketing campaigns are complying with federal guidelines, but are they truly conveying the necessary message to consumers?

When it comes to privacy policy, consumer brands need to ask the same question: Are they simply checking a regulatory box? Or taking advantage of the opportunity presented?

With the heightened intensity around data privacy still growing, marketers need to answer to an increasingly savvy customer base. Large scale breaches may still make headlines, but on a micro level, every card swipe and online click is eyed with concern. Businesses need to take on privacy matters proactively as consumers demand to stay informed.

There are three critical directives to consider:

First: Don’t Wait

The privacy conversation is already well underway, with new laws and regulations emerging all over the world. The inherent challenges around the topic are fully in motion as well, with fluid guidelines evolving as we go. Now is the time for brands to put privacy at the forefront, starting with a deep dive into the types of data they are already collecting and how it’s being used. Purchasing behavior, for example, can inform more a personalized experience, while general demographics often form an inaccurate customer snapshot based on convention. If data can fuel activation, it’s valuable; if not, it’s a liability.

Armed with these metrics, drawn from tools and technology in every department, businesses can create a sophisticated content management system that fully integrates privacy throughout their organization. By gathering only useful, actionable customer information, a brand can offer consumers a more customized experience without simply amassing data for data’s sake. Given the evolving nature of privacy, agility can also be baked into the infrastructure to ensure responsiveness to any changes in the future.

Second: See the opportunity

Privacy is not a chore or a constraint; it’s not a box to be checked off simply to satisfy mandated guidelines. Brands who treat it as such, or who reach for the quick fix solution to what is presumed to be a short-term legal matter, are missing the point. Trust is the foundation of all relationships and vital to the relationship brands have with consumers.

A company with a people-focused privacy strategy is already one step ahead in providing consumers with a comfortable entry point. A vital move at a time when a majority of consumers report having already taken some form of action over data privacy concerns.

By embracing transparency around privacy policies and changes, an organization seizes the opportunity to grow customer comfort into trust, and trust into loyalty. There are plenty of available messaging channels, from email to website banners to social media, all of which can share vital privacy information in a creative, engaging way. Consumers who feel well informed are more likely to view a brand as having their best interests in mind, rather than a data-amassing behemoth behind a curtain.

Third: Communicate Simply and Often

Going back to our example of the prescription drug commercial, it’s clear that methods used to communicate critical information to consumers aren’t always effective. Who could retain, let alone act on or gain trust from, such voluminous messaging poured out at high speed? By contrast, regulatory messaging on cigarette packaging is the model of brevity. When the Surgeon General warns that “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer” right on the packaging, along with a list of several other health dangers, we’re clear on the risk.

Luckily, explaining a company’s privacy policy isn’t nearly as complicated as pharmaceutical information or as ominous as tobacco warnings. The goal is to proactively answer consumers’ questions around what a brand’s policy is, how their information is used, and what their options are for controlling the exchange. Framed as a helpful, informative conversation between a business and customer, a simplified privacy message provides peace of mind by empowering the consumer to control their own data.

To be most effective in sharing information and garnering trust, privacy policy should be shared as plainly and visibly as possible, everywhere customers are found. Whether on a cell phone, tablet laptop or a desktop, consumers should have quick, easy access to policy information, with the ability to customize their experience through the information provided.

Now is the time to strategize a people-first privacy policy that maximizes data, empowers customers, fosters trust, and creates brand loyalty. More than a marketing mandate, it’s a holistic imperative. Consumers are watching, brands who step up will reap the rewards.

Sharon Harris
Sharon Harris is the Chief Marketing Officer at Jellyfish, a digital partner to some of the world’s leading brands, including Uber, eBay, Disney, Spotify, Nestlé, Ford, Aviva and ASOS. As Jellyfish continues to expand its global footprint, Sharon oversees international marketing strategy across 30 offices. In her role, a key focus area is positioning Jellyfish as a true global partner in digital marketing and transformation. Her extensive experience leading teams and pioneering advertising innovation will help to accelerate the company’s global expansion.

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