Trust me, I’m a marketer: What consumers really think about data.

We love data. We can’t get enough of it – always striving for more to gain a better insight into our customers.

But there’s a barrier in between marketers’ insatiable appetite for data and the consumer – it’s called trust.

According to our research with The Drum on Big Data people simply don’t trust businesses with their personal information.

But marketers have still got their heads stuck firmly in the sand. Of those questioned in the report, 94% of marketers said they thought that their customers trusted them with their data. When consumers were asked by the DMA if they trusted brands with their data, the figure was closer to 10%.

The disparity is shocking and it needs to be addressed. But how do you build trust between you and your consumers? In this post we’ll look at how you can collect data, reassure your customers and grow your customers’ confidence in your intentions.

Be open from the start

When it comes to collecting data, the first thing is to tell your visitors is why you’re asking for information. Without telling your customer why you’re asking questions, consumers often jump to assumptions that you’re about to stalk them, sell their data or turn up unannounced on their doorstep.

The truth is often much less threatening. Our analysis showed marketers collect data to personalise marketing, identify trends, help develop products and to build closer relationships which encourage loyalty. There’s nothing sinister about these reasons so be transparent – don’t leave the consumer guessing, otherwise they jump to the wrong conclusions.

State the benefits

Once you tell them why, tell them how it’s going to benefit them – not you. From our research, the majority of marketers collected data to personalise the marketing communications. This is a direct benefit to customers – when communications are more relevant it makes their lives easier and browsing more efficient. It helps them save money and time.

Remember to reassure

It also helps to reassure them that their data won’t be misused. While publicising your data protection or privacy policy on your website is a legal requirement, go one step further and make sure it’s easily accessible to the customer. Never rely on the customer reading it to reassure them as these sections of your websites are often only read when there’s a problem. Briefly state who has access to their data, what data you’re collecting and why at the point of capture. Don’t hide it in text written by your legal department – make it customer friendly.

Give back control

When the customer has given you their information then keep it within their control and reach. Allowing the customer to edit information in their ‘account’ section of your website will give them control and make sure you have the most up-to-date info. Make sure you put them in the driving seat by asking them what they’d like to hear about in your emails and how often they’d like to hear from you. Make it flexible so they can choose what they say, edit the information later and ultimately control the nature of their relationship with you.

Maintain high levels of security

Security is still a major influence when it comes to trust so if you’re asking for people’s personal information then make sure you keep it secure.

After you’ve made sure your payment and data security provisions are water-tight then publicise the fact your website is protected. Today’s savvy online shopper will soon realise if your site isn’t secure. They’re automatically notified with pop-up alerts if a site doesn’t have security certificates or data isn’t encrypted. People look for the padlock symbol on the bottom of their screens and want to know you’ve got a secure server when it comes to transacting. Fear is a major reason why people abandon purchases so if you can reassure your customers, you’ll reduce abandonment rates and increase your bottom line.

Add the personal touch

After you’ve dealt with the technology then look at your people. Customers trust people – not computers or faceless organisations. Systems and networks can be hacked – people are far more likely to trust an organisation they can put faces and names too. Make sure you have an ‘About us’ section with a little bit of information about you and your staff.

If you’re asking people to share personal information about themselves, they’re far more likely to do it if you’ve shared information about yourselves too. Include information about your CEO – their favourite items, products and likes for example – it makes your organisation more personable and trustworthy.

Celebrate happy customers

If you’ve already got lots of happy customers tell potential customers about them. Consumers trust what other consumers think more than what marketers tell them. In fact 51% of people trust user-generated content more than other information on a company website (Bazaarvoice, 2012). This is even more important when you’re talking to a younger audience such as ‘millennials’ – 84% of them cite what other customers say as being a major influence when considering a purchase (Bazaarvoice, 2012). So if you’re looking to increase confidence in your company, then tell them what other people think.

Shout about your customer service

Lastly make people aware of your great customer service. If you reassure people that you’ve got a generous and flexible refunds and returns policy then they’re far more likely to feel they’re not taking a risk. Again this is a great section to feature customer reviews on the speed, quality and efficiency of your payment, processing, delivery and customer service.

All these factors will help you increase the consumer’s trust in you. And when you consider that trust is the foundation for any relationship, then this is probably the most productive use of your time and energy as a marketer.

Download the Pure360 & The Drum Market Insight Report: Big Data Edition