Is There a Balancing Act Between Delivering a Personalized Customer Experience and Maintaining Consumer Privacy?

A security breach can tarnish your brand image. Preserve your reputation by handling large amounts of data safely and ethically.

Is There a Balancing Act Between Delivering a Personalized Customer Experience and Maintaining Consumer Privacy?
Katie Metz // Adriana Lacy Consulting

Consumer privacy should be a top priority for your business. But how can you gather the data necessary to provide personalized service while protecting your customer’s privacy?

The term data ethics is rather new. The accepted definition refers to the fair collection of, protection of privacy with, and honesty regarding how companies use data.  

Data ethics has been in the spotlight due to the massive amount of data being collected, the way analytics has allowed marketers to hone in on their customer base, and the uptick in data breaches. Google’s Project Nightingale is one example of gathering data without transparency. Their effort to collect data without clearly outlining their plans to use it, not only posed a risk for the information falling into the wrong hands, but also failed to provide transparency of their intent.  

What about personalized marketing?

It is possible to deliver tailored messaging without risking the security of your customer data. However, it must be done with intention and evaluated regularly to implement any adjustments that may need to be made. As regulations change, your business needs to stay up to date. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a listing of state laws related to digital privacy which can be found here. Information on state privacy laws including consumer data privacy and website privacy can help your business avoid unwanted litigation and fines.  

Consider implementing the following best practices to avoid any problems in the future.  

Data Transparency

Start with a powerful data collection policy. Outline important issues such as being transparent with how you will collect data and what you intend to do with. Ensure all parties involved are aware of your policy. This includes customers and employees. By sharing this information with your customers your brand will gain their trust. Allow users to opt-out of any data collection including email marketing. Allowing your customers to have a say in how their data is used will go a long way towards building a positive reputation. 

Data Protection

Ensure the data you collect is completely safe. Methods include the use of encryption and secure storage. Encryption protects the privacy of the user by keeping data secure during the process of transferring it to other networks. Cloud storage offers a secure method of storing data which should be a top priority for every business. Check out this list of providers based on PC Magazine's top picks. 

Be Customer Focused

By limiting the amount of data you collect, protecting your customer’s data, and providing the option to opt-out of data collection, your customers will know that your brand is putting their security first. With the imminent phasing out of third-party cookies on the horizon, look to other options to remain customer focused and provide personalized service. 

First-party cookies, data which is collected directly from websites, offer businesses the opportunity to fine-tune their customer’s needs. By directing more traffic to your website, not only will first-party data be available, it offers a chance to collect zero-party data. 

Zero-party data is information that is voluntarily shared with companies. Think about including short, interactive quizzes or surveys on your website or email marketing and your company can gain valuable insights to deliver what your customers want most. Ranging from customer satisfaction questions or complaints to which products your customers are most interested in, quizzes and surveys offer safe and secure first-hand communications that rival what any third-party data may offer.  

Honesty, transparency, and a customer-driven marketing strategy will propel your brand through the changes on the horizon and guarantee the trust and security of your customer base. 

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