Good Marketing = Good Privacy

March 6, 2018

By Evan Neufeld

In exchange for offering up personal data, customers deserve (and increasingly expect) relevant and personalized content. However, digital media is increasingly riddled with irrelevant and abrasive promotional content, and high profile data breaches from Equifax, Yahoo, and Uber have rendered information privacy a top-of-mind issue for many consumers.

Most marketers talk a good game about protecting consumer data; however, very few have made the actual leap to treating privacy as a key marketing and communications effort, as opposed to simply a legal one. While best-in-class brands such as Macy's and Urban Decay understand how to appease customers with user-friendly, transparent privacy policies the vast majority (92%) of indexed brands studied fail to supply a prominent and concise privacy & cookies notification. These brands must thoughtfully re-tool their data privacy disclaimers, or risk losing the trust and attention of their addressable market.

  1. Keep Up Your End of The Conversation: Updating privacy policies at a regular cadence is one way brands can demonstrate their commitment to data privacy. Here we saw a glass more than half full, with 55% of brands having updated their privacy policies in the last year. However, that still left 45% of analyzed brands that had not updated their privacy policies within the 12 months, and nearly one-fourth of all brands had not done so in 2 years or more.
  2. One Size Fits None: Leader brands look to provide multiple ways in which brands can ask them questions about the privacy policies. Warby Parker, for example, has a dedicated privacy email address to which customers can direct inquiries about how the brand aggregates and leverages user data. American Eagle Outfitters' privacy statement is armed with several highly visible customer service features, providing seamless access to Q&A via phone, email, or live chat.

    Most importantly, this contact information is front and center and not buried at the end of privacy statements, something only one in five brands does. A simple adjustment like putting a dedicated email address or live chat feature at the top of privacy policy pages can go a long way for brands that want to assert their trustworthiness.
  3. UI/UX Matters: Although all analyzed brands comply with regulatory standards, many have not designed their privacy policies in ways that enable easy user navigation. Over a third of consumers feel that a clear and simple privacy policy makes brands seem more trustworthy. However, privacy policies often obscure content by using bare-bones organization and an abundance of legalese. Brands need to introduce more structure to their privacy policies to make the information digestible.

    Only 42% of analyzed brands include a table of contents in privacy policy documentation, and only 33% highlight the user information they collect. Best Buy exhibits a best-in-class privacy policy, equipped with a table of contents, highlights of key components, and dedicated customer care/privacy email and mailing addresses. The consumer electronics retailer's privacy policy documentation is positioned in a way that underlines the brand's commitment to customer service.

    The sidebar features three sections on protecting privacy on devices and protecting against identity theft, which nearly half of consumer respondents voice as their top data security concern. As users navigate each section, they are guided by key takeaways and are presented with the option to explore a given topic further by clicking through to supplemental resources, such as documentation on interest-based advertising and activity tracking methods.

In an era where razor-thin margins separate digital leaders from laggards, savvy brands are those that fine tune and maintain their privacy assets to ensure that consumers are engaged and not tuning them out.


"Good Marketing = Good Privacy." MediaPost, 3/6/18.

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