Boring Stuff: Customers Don't Actually Read Privacy Notices, Marketers Say

Call it cynicism, or merely being realistic -- but most marketers do not believe that consumers bother reading privacy notices, according to a recent study by The CMO Survey. 

Of companies polled, 95.2% do not believe that consumers have carefully read the disclosures and allowances. And 90.4% say consumers lack a clear understanding of what the privacy notification means to them.  

Still, 37.8% believe customers are willing to switch brands based on privacy protection. That rises to 50% for pure-play online companies and 48.2% of technology firms. 

And the respondents say that privacy notices increase customer perceptions of their brand (55.8%) and brand loyalty over time (46.2%).   

In general, 90.3% of firms believe customers trust their brand more than the industry average. 

Here’s what brands have been doing to increase trust in the face of privacy concerns:

  • Promise not to sell customer’s personal information — 63.1% 
  • Asked consumers to consent to our company’s use of their data (i.e. informed consent) — 58.1%
  • Invested in technology infrastructure to reduce the likelihood of a data breach — 52.2%
  • Invested in increasing trust in our brand reputation — 50.7%
  • Make our privacy policy easy to understand — 50.7% 
  • Shared privacy notices with consumers that communicate how our company will use their data — 45.3% 
  • Developed a brand privacy policy — 36.5%

The Pharma/biotech industry has been especially proactive, promising not to sell information and seeking customer consent for use of data (100% apiece). 

In addition, brands have taken the following actions to compensate for third-party cookies disappearing:

  • Created a stronger data strategy to capture better information — 58.3%
  • Invested in innovations to engage with customers directly — 50.5%
  • Reduced internal data siloes to generate a more complete view of customers — 32.3% 
  • Invested in customer data platform (CDP) that offers better information about the customer journey — 30.2% 
  • Created strategic partnerships with agencies and to generate data around customer touchpoints — 28.6% 
  • Offered customers incentives to provide access to their data — 25%

Meanwhile, marketers say privacy notices influence customers to: 

  • Think highly of our brand — 45% 
  • Stay loyal over time — 36.5%
  • Give our company positive word of mouth — 33.2% 
  • Search on our website or engage with our app — 25.6%
  • Share data with our company — 19.3% 
  • Purchase once they search on the website or app — 15.9%

In general, companies have invested in the following to improve their digital marketing over the past year:

  • Data analytics — 77.5%
  • Optimizing of company website — 74%
  • Digital media and search — 70.9%
  • Marketing technology systems or platforms — 69.8% 
  • Direct digital marketing (e.g., email) — 68.2% 
  • Online experimentation and/or A/B testing — 47.3% 
  • Managing privacy issues — 35.3%
  • Machine learning and automation — 26.4%
  • Improving our app  —24.4%

The study also found that 54.2% are using a channel partner, down from 74% three years ago:  

The CMO Survey surveyed 320 top marketers from January 11-February 7, 2022. 

1 comment about "Boring Stuff: Customers Don't Actually Read Privacy Notices, Marketers Say".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, March 21, 2022 at 6:57 p.m.

    This is about as newsworthy as saying that most people sleep at night. A privacy policy is about as helpful to a brand as a salad bar at McDonald's. It makes people feel better, but they're not going to eat (read) it. And finally, welcome to Lake Wobegon. 

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