88% of consumers say they feel companies are primarily collecting personal information for their own benefit.
85% are concerned about how much of their personal information is held by others.
22% of consumers always read privacy statements.
But 23% of consumers have decided against making a purchase because they weren’t sure how a company would use their personal information.
THOUGHT: I think people talk a good game about privacy but when it comes down to it, they don’t really care. It’s nice in the abstract but until someone comes along with a different model for distributing access to your personal information, people are going to accept the exchange of their information for whatever it is they want access to.
The state of privacy right now is like advertising was before Google revealed that advertising was broken. We used to accept having our entertainment interrupted with in-your-face sales pitches for crap we didn’t want as the price for content. Google came along and said, actually, advertising doesn’t have to be in your face, it doesn’t have to interrupt, it can be precisely relevant and delivered only when you want it.
Want a social network that works really well? Then you need to give up your psychographic information to Facebook. I’d prefer it otherwise, but until a site like Diaspora gains critical mass, that’s the way it’s going to be.
So forgive me if I have a bit of a cynical attitude toward polls that show people are concerned with privacy. They always are generally but rarely specifically.
That dynamic, however, is less true when it comes to online transactions.
While people are no longer skittish about buying online per se, companies and brands that are not well known need to establish trust before customers will give them their credit card online.
That starts with the overall design of the site. People make a judgement about the trustworthiness of a site within seconds based entirely on its visual appeal. If the site looks clunky, and they came across it through search, it is probably going to be pretty hard to gain that visitor’s trust.
But if the visitor came from a link in a tweet from the owner of the site whom the visitor had been following on Twitter for a while, a clunky-looking site might not be as much of an obstacle because trust in the owner had already been built through Twitter.
That’s not to say that you should settle for a crappy-looking site.
If you’re selling online, everything about your site should exude trust. Transactions should be conducted over SSL, you should require only the information that is needed to conduct a transaction and any other information should be optional.
Be careful with your use of the color red, as it evokes emotions like alarm and carries with it the negative connotation of being “in the red.” If you have a seal like those you get from the Better Business Bureau or TRUSTe, put them on your transaction page.
As hard as it is for smaller, unknown brands to gain trust, it’s just as easy for large brands to lose it. Data breaches or use of customers personal information for something other than its original purpose are surefire ways to lose trust. And once lost, it’s awfully tough to get back.
MINNESOTA MONDAY: Sixty percent of Minnesota’s small businesses don’t have a website, according to Google.
Thank you for orange juice.
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