Don't Downplay the Importance of Privacy to Today's Shopper

Posted by Josh Baltzell on July 12, 2022

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Nearly 294 million American citizens were victims of data breaches in 2021. It’s hard to blame them for being so passionate about protecting their data. In fact, a 2021 Cisco study shows that 46% of respondents feel they’re not able to adequately protect their personal data.

That inability to control privacy ultimately affects the businesses supported by data-conscious consumers: Of respondents deemed as caring about privacy, 47% state they've switched companies due to data policies.

To attract and retain this growing group of privacy-minded shoppers, ecommerce businesses need to take privacy just as seriously as their customers do, if not more. Here’s how businesses should adapt their marketing efforts to protect their customers and build their trust.

TLDR

What are the privacy risks to your business and your customers?

Ecommerce businesses need to be aware of the entities that threaten both their business and their customers. Businesses must be proactive in showing consumers how they’ll fight these threats, so customers can feel safe buying online.

  • Cyberattacks. The rise of ransomware presents a new threat from which nobody is truly safe. Nearly 60% of consumers say they’ll avoid a company hit by a cyberattack within the past year. The effects on the bottom line are catastrophic, with 42% of businesses hit by cyberattacks reporting brand degradation after the attack.
  • Selling data. Nobody truly knows how much of their data is sold, and only 53% of companies actively try to show customers how their data is used.
  • Changing consumer preferences. The days of people blindly clicking “I agree” on privacy policies are going away. The 2021 Cisco privacy study shows that nearly 80% of consumers are willing to spend time and money to keep their data safe.

How to Protect Shoppers with Your Marketing Efforts

Anxiety over data privacy shouldn’t be taken lightly, nor should it be exploited as an opportunity to prey upon those concerns. However, an online retailer that understands the importance of privacy, data integrity, and consumer peace of mind should clearly communicate those values with customers.

Make the Data Transaction Equitable for Both Parties.

More than 80% of consumers state that the potential risks of sharing data with companies outweigh the benefits. As you show shoppers that their data is safe within your online store, it’s also important to demonstrate what they’ll receive in exchange for sharing their data. Creating incentives for people to share their data helps them opt in, while also assisting you with lead generation and customer retention.

  • Motivate consumers to share. Explain why your company needs to track consumer data and pair that with a bottom-line motivator for consumers who agree to share their data. A good promotion will result in plenty of browsing and shopping data for you to track.
  • Consider recurring discounts. The best-performing incentives to entice consumers to share data are discounts that they can rely on and ones that positively impact their bottom line. A 10%-off discount, birthday coupons, and subscriber-only flash sales can all help convince people that sharing data is a smart financial move.
  • Incorporate non-financial incentives. Not everything is about money. Convenience can be just as motivating for those on the fence about their data. Early access to sales, reduced shipping times, and added store hours can all be highly influential on consumers.

Implement authentication to protect ecommerce shoppers.

Once you’ve given consumers reason to share their data with your business, it’s your job to keep it safe. Fortunately, some widely available tools exist that can help you to keep consumer privacy a top priority, while demonstrating to shoppers how serious you are about protecting their data.

  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is not only very common, but also highly effective. A 2019 study from Microsoft shows that 2FA blocked 99.9% of automated attacks.
  • Make 2FA easy. It’s done best as a simple text message with a code that the user enters when prompted—an easy process with tremendous security benefits.
  • Store passwords securely. Storing passwords on your server as plain text is a great way to open your business up to a data breach. Encrypted passwords on the backend make it much harder for hackers to steal passwords.

Choose your web host wisely.

You can do everything right in terms of keeping consumer data safe, only to find your site overrun by malware or a cyberattack—and it might not even be your fault. Web hosting companies are the gatekeepers for many of the threats on the internet. All it takes is one weak link in your privacy chain, and the data of your customers could be at risk.

  • Focus on security first, then cost. The lowest-cost options for ecommerce site hosting are compromised in some areas. And if security is the weak point, you might not know until it’s too late. If cost is a consideration for your web hosting, just make sure security is a top priority for the company you partner with. Look for a web host that gives you security first, even if it doesn’t give you all the bells and whistles.
  • Use a platform that’s actively developed. ​​As a Shopify and Adobe Commerce partner, we recommend these platforms most often for a variety of reasons. One of the main ones is that they’re actively developed, meaning the latest updates and improvements to security measures are deployed automatically to sites built on them.
  • Be careful with plug-ins. Plug-ins add functionality to your site, but they could also introduce unnecessary privacy risks. Carefully research any plug-ins you’re considering adding to your site to be sure that you’re not putting customer data at risk.

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Protect your brand by designing websites and applications with privacy in mind.

When the time comes for a website redesign, consider the privacy implications of your website and mobile app. The more you convey security and privacy, the safer your customers will feel, increasing customer satisfaction.

  • Don’t track everything. Passive data like browsing history and clicks can be invasive to consumers without doing much to help you predict their next actions. Use Google Analytics to track your website performance while keeping user data collection to a minimum.
  • Enforce password policies. Ask customers to create strong passwords when they sign up for your site. Just as importantly, prompt those individuals to update their passwords frequently. Only a third of internet users update passwords regularly on their own.
  • Give shoppers control. Allow shoppers to opt out of data collection if they don’t feel comfortable sharing data with your business. Let former customers delete their accounts so that their data is no longer stored on your company’s servers. We use a partner called CookiePro to ensure all the websites we build are consent-compliant and that user and customer consent is managed according to the most up-to-date policies.

More than 40% of companies that invest in privacy see benefits at least twice the amount of their privacy expenditures. Privacy is already very important to consumers, and not only is it becoming more important, but also there are clear benefits to taking privacy as seriously as possible. Get in front of this critical issue and upgrade your data policies, so your customers feel just as safe sharing their data as they do in giving you their business.

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Topics: ecommerce, online shopping, ecommerce privacy, ecommerce security

Josh Baltzell

Written by Josh Baltzell

Josh Baltzell, Senior Director of Technology, has over 20 years of experience developing Internet solutions with a focus on commerce. Though technology is his passion, he believes that business needs always come before technology. Josh's background includes working with both SMB and Fortune 500 brands using tools like Adobe Commerce, Shopify, marketing automation, analytics tools, and many more. If you see Josh, there’s a 90% chance he’s wearing a tie and listening to hip-hop music.

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