Anxiety: Use privacy as a competitive advantage


According to the MarketingExperiments’ conversion heuristic, anxiety is one negative factor that reduces the likelihood that your potential customers will complete that lead form or buy from you. One of the chief causes of anxiety for customers of late has been privacy.

For example, 94% of 45-64 year olds think there should be a law that requires websites and advertising companies to delete all stored information about an individual, according to research conducted by the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.

And you likely see more headlines every day. The Wall Street Journal has even been conducting a yearlong investigative reporting series titled “What They Know.”


And where there is customer sentiment, there is opportunity

So what if, instead of only responding to regulations and industry edicts, you became proactive with your products and services? What if you did such a good job of reducing customer anxiety around privacy, you turned it into a competitive advantage for your company? Here are a few ideas to get you started (and I’d love to hear yours as well in the comment section) …


Transparency reduces anxiety

Address the elephant in the room and clearly communicate with your audience about how you use their information. This should go far beyond a privacy policy hidden somewhere in your footer.

For example, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University created a shopping search engine interface that clearly displayed privacy policy information. They dubbed it Privacy Finder …


Click to enlarge


Their research found that some consumers are willing to pay a premium to purchase from more privacy protective websites.

But you don’t need a fancy, whiz bang technology solution to reduce customer anxiety about privacy. Here’s an example email I received courtesy of Melissa Miller, Inbound Marketing Manager, HubSpot.

“Beyond acknowledging the fact that their audience is concerned about privacy, they explain that their users have complete control of what they share,” she said. “I thought it was a good message … that they are letting me decide what I do and don’t want to share.”

Here’s the email copy …

Subject Line: How Rypple Protects Your Privacy


Hi Melissa,
Social networks have developed a stigma: people worry that every word they type will be visible to everyone else.

Rypple is different. It’s been carefully designed for the workplace, so users can control how public—or private—they want the shared information to be.

We gave New York Times Gadgetwise blogger Paul Boutin full access to Rypple’s social performance management platform.  Today he shares what he’s learned about how Rypple helps you use the power of a social network to connect with your co-workers — while also ensuring that your private communications stay private.

You will learn how to:

  • recognize a colleague for great work and make it public to the whole company
  • share private notes visible only to your manager or direct report
  • ask for anonymous feedback about your performance

How Rypple Protects Your Privacy


Daniel Debow
co-CEO, Rypple


You can see from the email’s last link that Rypple even hired a freelance writer to pen a blog post. Why? Rypple understands that customer anxiety about privacy could hurt sales.

“While the need for privacy may not be a company’s primary reason for buying new enterprise software, it can become an insurmountable roadblock if that need isn’t satisfied,” said Nick Stein, Director, Content & Media, Rypple.


Burn the cookies (publicly)

While we might not have a telescreen in every house, cookies are the embodiment of Big Brother as envisioned by George Orwell. (Or was it Steve Jobs and Chiat Day?)

They watch … and track … and report on everything the average customer does. And they are omnipresent. According to The Wall Street Journal, America’s top 50 websites installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto visitor’s computers, on average. A dozen sites each installed more than 100! The lone holdout? Care to guess? (Answer is below.)

So what if you didn’t install any cookies? And what if you made that part of your value proposition with a big “No Cookie Promise” seal on your site? What approach could you take to target customers with compelling offers? Well, tracking customers across the Internet is not the only way to deliver relevant offers …

“Next year, we’ll be undertaking a campaign for a large financial services company. Finance is a particular topic where privacy concerns come into play,” said Dave Hills, CEO, Twelvefold Media. “Without any tracking, we’ll be able to execute a ‘conditional marketing campaign.’ In other words, being able to deliver ‘bull’ or ‘bear’ messages depending on what the market is doing.”

“Aside from privacy, this is all about delivering content relevant to the audience at an exact point in time – not yesterday, not tomorrow.”

And the only site among the top 50 that didn’t install any cookies – Wikipedia.


Beyond the landing page

App store optimization is the latest, bleeding edge battle ground among marketers. How do you convince customers to pay for your app when there are so many similar competitors? Even if your customers don’t have to pay any money for the app, anxiety may still discourage a download.

According to a recent study by AdaptiveMobile, 75%of respondents said they would pay more for apps they thought guarded their privacy better.

In past landing page tests conducted by MarketingExperiments, we’ve found that third-party privacy seals help reduce anxiety and improve conversion. Not surprisingly, TRUSTe has found similar results and is looking to supply its seal to app developers as well.

“Consumers are more likely to engage online with businesses they trust,” said Dave Deasy, Vice President, Marketing, TRUSTe. “The benefit of having a third party vouch for the legitimacy of your privacy practices can have great returns.” For example, TRUSTe measured an 84% increase in purchases for wedding site

Dave went on to say … “If a business has taken the steps to ensure their privacy practices are to the highest standard, the best way to use this as a marketing vehicle is to make this effort know to the consumer.”

Well said. So if you’re doing right by your customers, let them know. Whether it’s through a snazzy interface, a third-party seal, or a simple email, blog post, or clear copy on your site, reducing customer anxiety can increase sales … and give your company a competitive advantage.


Related Resources:

Landing Page Optimization: Addressing customer anxiety

B2B Marketing: 5 privacy factors to consider when using marketing automation

Online Behavioral Advertising: How to benefit from targeted ads in a world concerned with privacy

Twelvefold Media


You might also like

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.