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Data Privacy vs. Personalization

4 min read

As we become more dependent on technology, businesses strive to create more personalized products as possible and appeal to individual customers. This brings our online experiences so close to our real-world experience that they not only influence each other but simply merge – the Internet is no longer universal but completely personalized. Our concern here is how individuals and marketers find the balance between data privacy and personalization while taking appropriate security measures.

While we’re living in times of sharing and documenting our lives online and providing that personal information for free all the time, most of us still understand its value. Customers are constantly trying to balance between the need to protect their individual data and their thirst for personalized experiences. So when brands want to collect and use consumers’ personal data, marketers must know not only how to secure it but also what to give in exchange for it. 

The value of our personal data

Today there’s no secret that companies are tracking customers’ identity or behavioral data. They have been doing this for years and customers also play their responsible role in this process. How many times have you agreed on some terms and conditions without reading them just to get a discount on free pizza?  We’re aware of the scheme, all the cybersecurity risks, and yet we participate in the game. Now, why do customers act this way?

First of all, it depends on the generations. According to a Gallup poll, millennials are especially trusting in institutions that guard their personal data, e.g. banks, telecoms. However, stating that they trust their data to others blindly would be wrong and prejudiced. Being the first generation that grew up with technologies, millennials are aware of the most common risks and data breaches. This generation tends to show interest in cybersecurity products and ways to protect themselves.

Also, giving our personal data away creates a sense of belonging. Would it be coupons or discounts, buyers expect their trusted brands not only to manage their sensitive information to be handled ethically. Customers expect more personalized experiences and to be involved in the process of brand creation and delivery. It’s like getting voting rights in exchange.

Now how often have you creeped out when noticing an ad for a product that you’ve just discussed with your friend? Yup, this happens rather often despite that customers haven’t given permission to use any access to their information. Well, here we need to understand the concept of personal data over again. It’s not about our ID numbers or bank account details – marketers use all little fragments of behavioral information and put it together to actually understand the habits of its customers. Then they can customize their products and advertising. For instance, connecting to an unsecured public wi-fi leaves our devices open for picking our personal information that we share via online conversations or the use of search engines. So Internet users need to be aware of such risks and take responsibility to actively protect themselves. 

So once again we come back to the ABC of cybersecurity and a reminder to protect the value of our sensitive data. Also, one of the tricks is to check on WiGLE.net if your personal wi-fi is on their database. It’s a submission-based catalog of wireless networks where you can learn about the spread of wireless computer usage. 

How to achieve balance

While the contemporary world is captivated with an enormous amount of information, there’s no surprise that brands put blood, sweat, and tears and use every trick to interest their target customers. Especially, when users desire to be recognized and expect customized experiences. Otherwise, they’ll simply go somewhere else in a sec. But there’s a thin line between privacy and personalization, so it’s a huge marketers’ responsibility how they will handle the info provided by their customers.

Focus on the customers

Recognizing that your prime goal is the loyalty of the customers can truly help not to cross the line when collecting and managing their data. So providing a secure and trusting customer journey through their experience cycle should be vital to your business.

So looking from a long-term perspective, marketers should always focus on the customers and try to perceive how personalization affects them. Having access to personal data should be used to enhance user experience on a website and become synonymous with great customer service following in more organic traffic.

Loyalty comes with trust so work on that. It’s necessary to provide a sense of belonging and control over their personal information to your customers. Make sure that they can change or even cut off the usage of personal data through the whole process.

Transparency is the key

As customers understand the value of their personal information, they want to know to whom they trust it. So it’s crucial to any business to remain transparent regarding their policy and restraints of data usage.

According to the survey, millennials tend to buy a product if they are informed about the company’s policy. On the other hand, if customers feel like a brand knows too much about them, they might get creeped out by such a notion and never come back. So marketers should keep it open and provide full transparency on the data they collect and the purpose of it to gain customers’ trust.

 Data you actually need

As in real life, a seller would be interested in collecting the information about the customers’ needs and preferences, so to be prepared in advance. However, they wouldn’t track their targets for the whole day to collect all the possible data just to possess it in case of need. So, marketers must not only try to enhance their products by customizing them but also stay in context and efficiently collect the data they actually need.

As a matter of fact, according to the CMO Council Study, 43% of marketers admit that they are not lacking information but rather fail to transform it into real-time action. To avoid unstructured data, marketers need to create and develop a strategy. Determine what data your company needs to improve your marketing, how you’ll use it. And of course, what you’re able to give to customers in exchange.

While there’s nothing breaking new or shocking about the emerging practices of personalization and the collection of customers’ personal data, both sides need to take responsibility for the best experience and secure mutual relationship. Users must take all the possible steps to protect themselves, read terms and regulations when signing up and giving away their data. At the same time, marketers must focus on their customers’ needs and trust without sacrificing their privacy.