Customers don’t trust brands as much as they used to, and they’re especially wary of giving out their personal information. Perhaps unsurprisingly, brands are suffering the consequences of data breaches: One Deloitte Insights survey found that 64% of respondents deleted or declined to download apps after hearing of a data breach and that 27% stopped visiting websites associated with the breach. And as privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA emerge, brands could even face punitive and legal action.
This creates a fundamental dilemma for marketers. Consumers expect to see personalized services, but implementing these features requires personal data. How can marketers respond to downturns in consumer trust while leveraging data-focused marketing strategies?
The answer lies in consumer trust. Studies have consistently shown that building trust is a critical factor in facilitating online sales and that seller reputations are one of the two most essential elements in gaining it. Building this reputation requires a foundation of honesty, authenticity, and fair dealings with everyday consumers.
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Earning consumer trust
So what does trust look like, exactly? One Edelman study found that 81% of global consumers believe trust is a deciding factor in their decision to buy and that they must be able to trust a brand to do what’s right. In the same study, more than 70% said they tie purchasing considerations to a brand’s reputation, authenticity, values, environmental impact, and customer experience.
Marketers can communicate their authenticity to customers in various ways. They can respond quickly to customer complaints (off and online), take action to correct any issues, own up to any mistakes, and so on. Edelman’s consumer trust barometer drives that point further home. Since 2016, a growing number of respondents claim that a brand’s public beliefs affect their choice to buy from and trust products of that brand. Reaching “belief-driven” consumers requires content marketing that communicates brand beliefs, cultivating long-term trust, and customer buy-ins.
Sharing data collection responsibilities
Businesses can also increase trust by ensuring that customers always have control over precisely what data is collected. This can even encourage consumers to think about how the brand fits into their own lives and put that relationship into action. The result is that marketers may obtain data that goes above and beyond what was required, revealing unexpected details about their intended audience.
Ensuring that customer data collection serves a purpose—one that benefits the consumer—is an essential communication strategy for modern data marketers. 79% of customers claim they were willing to share their data if the action has some obvious benefit, such as exclusive discounts.
Other approaches to mutual buy-ins on data collection might include:
- Showing how data lends itself to personalized recommendations for products
- Using data to provide feature update notifications
- Highlighting ways data can improve a service or product feature
Maintaining consumer trust
Once a brand has established trust with its customers, it must go to extreme lengths to ensure data is not misused by third-party partners. The Cambridge Analytica scandal alone suggests that failing to protect user data has permanently damaged Facebook’s reputation as a partner. Other businesses are trying to avoid scandals by investing in IT security and oversight, but more straightforward steps include:
- Only collecting the precise data your business requires to operate and complete transactions
- Destroying unused data and personal information from unused accounts
- Keeping customers aware of the importance of data privacy and security
Brands have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to trust and data security. 92% of customers claim that data collecting companies must be proactive about data protection. That means brands must earn the privilege of managing not just consumer data, but also consumer trust.
Marketers are hard at work, collecting personal data. The question is whether they’re willing to put the same amount of work into building consumer relationships based on trust and authenticity. The good news is trust-based marketing strategies are easy to implement and generate loyal customers over the long term.