Privacy

Here's an issue that appears straightforward: Keep your hands out of my personal business. If marketers respect that order, they should be fine, right? Maybe. Sure, you can do all the usual things for tackling privacy - permission-based marketing, opt-in advertising and so on. But is there a way to make privacy a more active part of your marketing strategy? Scotiabank's Michael Seaton says yes and, like any good relationship, it starts with communication.

Here’s an issue that appears straightforward: Keep your hands out of my personal business. If marketers respect that order, they should be fine, right? Maybe. Sure, you can do all the usual things for tackling privacy – permission-based marketing, opt-in advertising and so on. But is there a way to make privacy a more active part of your marketing strategy? Scotiabank’s Michael Seaton says yes and, like any good relationship, it starts with communication.

Has a privacy policy ever left you feeling warm and fuzzy? Probably not. Consumers rarely perceive ‘privacy’ as positive because companies often fail to understand how privacy can be effectively communicated.

There are several reasons why paying attention to privacy is important. First, it is the law. Second, consumers have become more aware of privacy so they expect it to be held sacred. Marketers have made privacy a priority because response and reputation will suffer if it is not adequately addressed and protected.

Granted, many policies are now written in more understandable language. There are, however, few examples of policies that address the bigger picture of the underlying customer relationship.

Here are a few ways to use a privacy policy as a chance to build open andunderstanding relationships.

First, make a promise to customers that speaks to privacy as a commitment that goes hand in hand with trust, respect, relevancy, value, and quality of service. Even the language sounds nicer when phrased as a ‘promise’ versus ‘policy.’

Second, faltering on privacy, quality of service, or value of goods/services could easily jeopardize a business relationship, resulting in lost revenue and a tarnished reputation. Customers should see that you will fulfil your promises because your long-term viability depends on it.

Third, involve customers in the process. Ask what trust, respect, value and privacy mean to them. Then ensure you educate and advise on how you intend to deliver. This will demonstrate your commitment to the overall relationship.

Seth Godin’s approach to CRM as ‘dating your customers’ works because it earns trust through engagement and involvement. Applying these principles to privacy can take your firm from meeting minimum guidelines to maximizing the benefits of a trusting customer relationship. Are you ready to make a promise?

Michael Seaton is director, eMarketing at Toronto-based Scotiabank.

Who’s getting it right?

ICOM’s Shopper’s Voice. ‘An outstanding privacy policy online is shoppersvoice.ca,’ says Dan Wiest, president of Toronto-based communications consultancy, Wiest & Associates and chair of the Canadian Marketing Association’s annual conference. ‘The beauty of this one is that it’s so simple even my mother can understand it. It summarizes the company’s privacy policy upfront in the simplest terms. It gives consumers easy control over the information they’ve offered. They can manage it, update it, delete it, but the ultimate controller of the information is the consumer and not the marketer.’