Learning from Big Brands in 2018
In 2018, it felt like every week there was a new data breach. Facebook was scrutinized for their data collection, Amazon was recording and accidentally sending unapproved messages from Alexa, Marriott had names, addresses, and passport numbers stolen from customers, and so many more businesses found themselves in bad positions ethically and professionally. It was a big year for people to stop and think about who they were trusting and what information was at risk.
Customers, clients, and guests have been wary about online purchases since they began. Over the past ten years, those nerves calmed and nearly dissolved as online shopping, social media, and apps like Uber and Venmo became popular. Everybody is buying and selling online without giving a thought to where they’re typing in their credit card information. However, these recent headlines from Marriott and Facebook have taken away part of that comfort. The internet feels risky again, and that can impact your sales.
What can you do to protect both yourself and your customer?
Market privacy and ethics. We’ve seen Facebook put out ads admitting their mistakes, claiming they have learned, and are working to improve privacy and safety. More than likely, your business is not dealing with information in the way Facebook is, but there is still so much to learn.
How do you build your contact lists? Email newsletters are such a useful tool for businesses to stay in contact with their customers and bring them news, sales, and updates. It keeps your customers engaged and keeps your business in their line of sight. However, you want to make sure you have permission to send emails to those on your list. If customers write their name and email on a slip of paper for a raffle, that’s considered “implied consent” to contact them. You might want to also go a step further and get “express consent”. It’s easy to do and lets your customer know you respect them and take the security of their information seriously. (Drop us a line if you’d like the verbiage we use to collect express consent.)
Market Privacy and Ethics
What are you doing to protect information while customers shop, browse, and book with you? Consider blurbs in your emails, on your social media accounts, or on your website that assure your customers that you are following best practice both legally and ethically. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic, it’s already on your customers’ minds.
Educate yourself on what information is being stored. Do you know how long passwords, names, or credit card information stays in your system? What are the policies that have been around so long you hadn’t even thought to be concerned? It’s ok if you don’t know right off the top of your head. Most likely, the systems you use are fully set up to be protected and safe. Just take a look at their policies every now and then so that you’re educated should a question come up.
Avoid Bots and Faux Influencers
The internet and social media have lead to huge opportunities for marketing and advertising. Influencers, people with huge social followings, are paid to like, comment, and engage with products all the time. However, fake followers, likes, and comments are also increasing. Bots and fake accounts are used to boost website traffic, ad clicks, and social media interaction.
Try to avoid these bots and fake influencers. If you get a comment on your Instagram post that seems a little odd, it might be an auto comment from a bot. This isn’t a huge deal, but you don’t want to put too much weight on that type of interaction. Never follow any links or purchase any product where you are paying for likes and followers. People want authenticity. It may be tempting to see your numbers skyrocket, but if they aren’t real customers, it is not worth it. If you’re trying to grow your followers and interactions, we know plenty of tips to do it the right way.
These topics can feel scary and overwhelming. We do not bring this to your attention to cause any sort of panic. What we want to do is make you aware of some concerns your customers might have and ways you can calm those nerves. Small businesses are valued for a reason and the ability to provide personalized safety and privacy confirmation is one of them.
Above all else, trust the professionals. Running your business is what you do best. If social media, website management, and email newsletters are above your head, let us know and we’ll build a plan with you to meet your needs. Let’s go into 2019 continuing to prioritize the happiness, confidence, and protection of our customers.