Private Eyes: Hall & Oates-Inspired Response To Recent Events

In the wake of  Edward Snowden’s revealing a government surveillance program that monitors data through multiple sources including telephone records, email exchanges, social media and the Web at large, consumers currently have a heightened awareness about online privacy and how their information is handled. 

For some, the idea of marketers capturing their online behavior conjures up memories of a certain Hall & Oates song: “Private eyes, they’re watching you/ They see your every move. “This has many digital marketers preparing for a bit of backlash, in the form of consumers not providing as much self-reported information as they did previously (at least temporarily), customers being more reticent to make online purchases, or consumers opting out of your email program altogether.

A Little Bit of Feel-Good Goes a Long Way (Putting Consumers at Ease)



While many people are talking about the right and wrong of this type of government surveillance, the recent exposure undoubtedly has given businesses a reason to look at their current privacy policies and how they disclose them to consumers.  Digital marketers in general can take steps to thwart consumer concerns that their data will be mishandled by following common practices that marketers have been executing for some time.  Many of these practices are documented in The White House Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights (Feb. 2012).

Make Your Privacy Policies Easily Accessible

Accessibility can be defined in many ways: making your policies clear during email sign-up, posting your privacy policies online, and using clear language, so consumers can understand your collection, use, dissemination, maintenance and security practices of their personally identifiable information.  Make it clear how you store and share information -- and use plain language, will ya!

Focused Collection

All data you collect should be leveraged as part of the B2B/B2C relationship. When collecting profile information, if you are not using specific data to segment or provide additional relevance, limit your storage of such data.

This issue becomes particularly obvious during the email sign-up process, when most individuals are first getting to know and trust your brand. If it isn’t clearly obvious why you are requesting required fields on your sign-up form (or preference center), you may get people abandoning their subscription altogether.

Give Customers Control over Their Data

Companies should offer consumers mechanisms to access, update and remove their personal information.  Offer clear and simple choices – such as an easy email unsubscribe, a preference center linked prominently from your website, and periodic requests for customers to update their information. Providing that individual control  gives customers more peace of mind.


Build Trust over Time

A brand promise is what you say you’re going to deliver, and the expectations you create in the customer’s mind. Whether we provide goods or services to consumers or other businesses, delivering on the brand promise is one of the most critical staples for business growth.

Trust between a consumer and a brand does not happen overnight. It can start with your subscription process – a promise not only to provide the information for which they are signing up, but to provide content that is specific to that individual. If you are able to deliver on that promise in your email messaging, recipients will extend their trust of your brand beyond their inbox.

Encore, Please

Evaluate your business from the customer’s perspective. What promises are you making --- and do you deliver?  How can you reduce reluctance to buy and increase confidence in what you sell?  How could you go above and beyond to create permanent relationships with customers and prospects?

Consumer trust builds as marketers continue to use personal data in a way that respects the context in which it’s being used.  As such, marketers should be committed to examining, sharing and delivering on their privacy policies.  Doing so will buttress the trust that is necessary to build profitable, long-lasting relationships with customers.

Until next time, keep humming that Hall & Oates tune.

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