THE BLOG

Data Collection: All Consumers Want is Transparency, Relevance and Convenience

16/02/2015 14:15 GMT | Updated 15/04/2015 10:59 BST

Consumers are prepared to share their personal data, providing it is beneficial to them and conducted with transparency

Developing a captivating online user experience for any brand depends on understanding what appeals to your customers.

The ability to engage and rapidly translate learnings into action is fast becoming the ultimate competitive advantage for organisations, but it's no longer enough to implement a strategy based on good ideas, intuition, or even what has worked in the past. The consumers of today are complex and demanding. They want to be understood and valued as individuals, yet are adamant about preserving privacy. If organisations are going to capture and keep their attention, they require the right information via the right means at the right time.

We recently surveyed 2,000 UK adults to gain an insight into their perceptions surrounding the privacy vs personalisation debate. The results show that consumers are in fact willing to share their personal data with brands, so long as the virtual handshake fulfils three fundamental values; transparency, relevance and convenience. For example, 84 per cent of 18-34 year olds are happy to share their personal data with brands by registering and logging into sites with their identities from social networks.

With these three elements in mind, here are some thoughts on how brands can reassure consumers and nurture relationships that set them apart from their competitors.

Transparency - easing consumer concerns about data privacy

Consumers are increasingly wary about sharing personal information out of fear that companies will use it irresponsibly. It's crucial to show consumers how you value data privacy and be clear on exactly how their data will be used. Each time access to personal data is requested, provide a clear notification about how you will use data - and how it will benefit your customers.

When asked what would make them most willing to share personal information with a company or brand, our research found that knowing that their data will not be shared with a third party, and the company making it clear how it will use the information, are the two most important criteria for consumers.

Every organisation should have a clear privacy policy which sets out its approach to data. Instead of asking your customers to spend their time trying to understand how you'll handle their data, spend some of your own creating a brief, clear statement. Make sure to communicate your business's commitment to adhering to the latest data security standards and send a clear message to current and potential customers: that you take data privacy and security very seriously.

Giving users the option of logging into your website using a third party provider such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, or another social media site, will allow users to share only the information that they're comfortable handing over. It will also save them from having to remember another set of login credentials, and keep businesses from having to store and update this sensitive data on a continual basis.

Relevance - the importance of personalisation

In a world where consumers are hit by hundreds of marketing messages a day, the key is making communications and user experiences relevant.

To provide consumers with experiences that accurately reflect their wants and needs in an authentic and respectful manner, businesses also need to turn to first-party data. Traditional targeting techniques such as tracking cookies, are the equivalent of playing a drawn-out guessing game; the only supposed knowledge you really have about the user stems from what you're able to piece together from their browsing history. Such information hardly paints a holistic picture of the user, and leaves out the most important information: their hobbies, interests, favourite brands, and relationships. In instances where multiple users share the same device, this data becomes even more diluted. Furthermore, cookies cannot properly track activity on mobile devices.

With many users now choosing to utilise ad blockers and anti-tracking applications due to privacy concerns, the odds are mounting against marketers who rely these methods. In contrast, first-party data is gathered directly from consumers' in a permission-based way via email subscriptions, registrations, social login, etc.

Bloomberg predicts that global smartphone usage will reach two billion by 2015. As mobile adoption grows, it's important that businesses understand how to navigate this increasingly multi-channel landscape, by having a strong presence on different channels and knowing how to create a consistent brand experience from desktop to mobile to in-store.

To engage its customers across different channels, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines developed a Meet & Seat service, which lets customers log in socially and share their Facebook or LinkedIn profile details with other participating passengers. For a more social flight experience, Meet & Seat customers can then choose seat assignments next to other passengers based on their social information.

Convenience - keeping things simple

Making registration seamless and convenient is critical when asking your users to self-identify. Our research found that 59.4 per cent of UK adults log into their favourite sites using their social media profiles because they don't want to spend time filling in registration forms.

With more consumers accessing websites and applications via mobile devices, tricky and convoluted registration and login processes are even more of a hindrance. Those of you who've sat racking your brains trying to remember passwords to log into websites can certainly relate to the 62 per cent of consumers who have left a website because they forgot their username and/or password.

If you'd like to read more about Gigya's research, and how the UK results compare to the US, you can download the full report here for free: http://info.gigya.com/privacy-personalization-guide.html.