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February 3, 2021

How to Build Trust With Your Users and Provide Clear Value for Their Data

Boris Pfeiffer


In the digital age, data has become its own commodity. Customers are more than familiar with mandatory fields asking for their email, home address, and phone number. The problem, however, is that they’re increasingly concerned about how that data is used, with many consumers saying that they want to stop sharing their data because they can’t gauge the risk of doing so.

These fears aren’t unwarranted either: in 2017, the data consumer-broker Acxiom alone provided over 10,000 attributes on 2.5 billion consumers to the likes of Facebook, Wells Fargo, and Macy’s. This information included the most personal of information–from births, marriages, religious affiliations, to spending behavior. Meanwhile, data breaches like the Cambridge Analytica scandal have only fueled people’s hesitation to offer up their data online.

Yet for brands, customer data will always prove valuable–not only for lead generation purposes but also to more completely understand their target audiences. And as more than a dozen US states introduce bills to address issues of data privacy (like California’s CCPA), businesses are increasingly forced to recognize their responsibility to be ethical and transparent in data collection. Attempting to navigate and overcome the rising mistrust subsequently means having to give people back control of their data, for good. Sounds impossible? It’s not. Here’s how to get started:

Interactive Content

Gaining users’ trust is an essential prerequisite for utilizing their data (fizkes/Shutterstock)

Imagine you’re meeting someone for the first time. What qualities would make you more likely to trust them and what would make you immediately unsure? What if they continuously interrupted you and yelled instructions at you? You’d probably make a swift exit. It’s the same with consumers: No-one wants to be aggressively told what to do or coerced into actions they don’t understand.

A recent study actually found that 91% of respondents think ads are more intrusive today than they were two or three years ago. Straight away, that’s an obstacle in establishing trust because it seems like brands are erratic and pressuring, which people automatically flag as dangerous. A better approach is to curate natural interactions with customers, where they are invited to contribute and are listened to.

How? Think interactive content. Things like online quizzes are great because they put customers in complete control; they decide if they want to respond. Quizzes can also be seamlessly integrated into the user experience and do not make big demands of each person. What’s more, quizzes provide value for audiences – they catch people’s interest as an opportunity to learn something about themselves or a particular topic. For example, ‘What character from X are you?’ piques people’s curiosity because they can categorize themselves within the context of something they enjoy. Remember, humans are vain creatures, we’re constantly eager to discover more about ourselves and where we fit in places.

The statistics back up this theory too. 82% of people were found to engage with quizzes that were exposed to them on their social media newsfeed, and 96% of users who take a Buzzfeed quiz finish it.

The best part of interactive content though is that you don’t have to be deceptive in how you collect people’s data. The structure of a quiz requires information to generate a tailored result, so you can openly state why people have to input certain details. Of course, you should be upfront about how this information is used–for instance, if you’re selling to third parties or if the person will be added to a marketing database. This transparency reaffirms users that you’re being honest with them and that they have the power to decide whether to proceed or not.

Opt-Out Functionality

This one will always raise eyebrows or be met with an initial “no,” but it’s something companies need to acknowledge to nurture long-term trust with customers. If you don’t give consumers the option to refuse to enter their data, you won’t be able to position your brand as sincere and worth a long-term relationship with. Ultimately, people expect brands to solve a problem for them, but if that solution comes at the cost of having to supply personal data, the brand’s mission seems like a masquerade.

CCPA and other laws govern how organizations can use consumer data (Panchenko Vladimir/Shutterstock)

A truly user-centric approach entails having an “opt-out” option at any stage where you ask for people’s information. This shouldn’t be hidden as small text either. Make it visible and make it an equally-weighted path for users to go down.

It might feel like a scary undertaking but it’s a brilliant way to keep your brand honest, as you’ll discover new ways to convince users that their time, interest, and data is well spent with your brand. In the meantime, the opt-out functionality reduces any negative friction with customers and lets them resume their experience without an unexpected ask in return.

This ties in nicely with how interactive content like quizzes can help brands. Most quiz maker software includes an email collection step – and the best keep customers in control, letting them opt-in or out before seeing their quiz results.

As well as an opt-out feature, it’s worth noting that your opt-in terms and conditions should be easy to find and understandable. Having pages of dense legal jargon will be an immediate red flag to any consumer who will most likely feel that you’ve over-complicated the language to hide how you really use their data.

The answer?

  • Write like a human
  • Make the explanation digestible
  • Reinforce that providing data is voluntary.

Switching from Passive to Active

The good news? Customers aren’t necessarily opposed to sharing their data. In fact, 79% of consumers say that they would enter their details if they could see a clear benefit to them. Brands are therefore tasked with presenting that benefit–which in the most successful cases is either knowledge (interactive content) or choice (opt-out functionality). Of course, these can’t be empty promises, companies have to continually demonstrate the benefits time and time again, while still following their messaging and mission.

That’s not to say that collecting data is one-sided. The best involve a mutual value exchange where customers are entertained (quizzes), taught (whitepaper or ebook) or given control, and where businesses gain access to customer insights that enable them to grow faster and better.

Companies need to reassess how and why they use consumer data in this ever-skeptical online world – even more so in the remote revolution where more people are becoming savvier to traditional, misleading marketing techniques. Trust is fragile and is dependent on maintaining a steady balance between both parties involved in the relationship. It’s time then, to stop viewing data collection as a passive and necessary component of business, and to start actively asking permission from users.

The answer may just surprise you.

About the author: Boris Pfeiffer is the CEO and co-founder of Before launching Riddle in 2014, Boris was heavily involved in the online gaming industry with a focus on sales and marketing–first managing European operations of Kabam, then setting up his own game studio. Boris has deep roots in the global startup space, having created tech businesses in Asia, the U.S., and throughout Europe. He’s a published author of “Facebook Fan Pages” (2011) and “Quizmaster” (2017), married and father of two, and in his rare leisure time, can often be found enthusiastically (if badly) swinging away at the local golf course. 

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