Privacy vs. Personal: Four steps to giving members the messages they want

For many consumers, choosing between protecting their privacy and wanting personalized communications causes a quandary – and creates a dilemma for marketing pros.

On the one hand …

People can be picky about their privacy. Rightly so, considering the growing number of identity thefts each year and the tedious process victims face to reestablish their good name and credit. Many believe the more personal data they share, the greater the risk it will be misused.

  • A 2013 online survey by software developer SAS found 71 percent of consumers are worried about keeping their data private, especially with frequent news reports about stolen identities.
  • The 9th annual Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey found that 82 percent of American consumers feel companies they buy from can’t be trusted with their personal information.

On the other hand …

It’s common marketing knowledge that consumers welcome – even expect – those they do business with to understand and anticipate what they want and need.  We know Millennials don’t want promotions about retirement homes anymore than baby boomers want ads for buying a first home. People want to receive personalized, relevant messages, and they want them delivered through their preferred channels. With today’s technology, meeting these desires is easy to do.

  • The 2013 SAS study found that 73 percent of customers want their banks to have relevant information available both during personal interactions and when they access their accounts online.
  • ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey found a colossal 77 percent of consumers prefer to receive marketing messages via email – 68 percent higher than any other delivery channel included in the survey.

Which hand is right?

To balance members’ concerns for privacy and preferences for personalized messages, consider these four steps:

Step 1: Seek permission.

This is the most significant step. Ask how members prefer to receive messages. And then create a process so they can easily update their information when they want, as well as on a scheduled annual basis. If they don’t authorize you to send them e-marketing messages, don’t do it. Sending promotions without permission can bring costly legal consequences.

Step 2: Know your member.

In the SAS survey, consumers ranked credit unions and banks the highest in understanding their needs, knowing the appropriate information to share and making it easy to do business through all channels. As members’ trust grows with your credit union, they are more likely to share personal data and welcome targeted communications. Collect the details that allow you to personalize your members’ messages, like nicknames, birthdates and children’s names, along with contact information.

Step 3: Enhance security.

Beef up your credit union’s security measures – both internally and externally – and tell your members. Let them know how you monitor their information and what procedures you have in place to protect their data.

Step 4: Educate and explain.

While many members don’t like the idea of sharing personal information or having their behaviors monitored, it’s already happening any time they search the internet or use a mobile device. By shopping online or logging into social media sites, your members are giving out information about them, their actions and their interests.  According to George Simpson of Media Daily News, “This notion that custom experiences can be provided by company Web sites without gathering data is one of the great intellectual disconnects in our digital world today.” If members want to know about a special rate on auto loans, or a limited-time offer on a matching CD, they will need to share some personal information about themselves and their needs. Explain what information you’d like to collect and why. And remind them they can opt out at anytime.

The bottom line:  Successful e-marketing requires knowing members’ perceptions and preferences, and that means finding a balance between their desire for privacy and relevant promotions.

Ron Daly

Ron Daly

Ron Daly is the president and CEO of Virtual StrongBox, a secure, end-to-end member engagement platform that can be integrated into various workflow processes to provide high-risk Enterprise IT firms ... Web: Details