5 Jan 2012: By Chris Parkinson, Group Compliance Director, Lateral Group
More than one in five Britons have more than 10 online accounts, according to research we recently carried out – easy to understand when you consider how much we use the internet in our daily lives. We all now have a huge amount of personal information online, but are we starting to lose control of it? Is online media and communication taking consumers’ power away and placing it in the hands of businesses?
Marketers have access to more information than ever. All the data consumers put online enables businesses to build up a more comprehensive consumer profile, learning more about us than ever through our online footprint. They can then use this to send out carefully targeted communications that correspond to consumers’ interests and preferences. However, most consumers are still not aware of how much of their data businesses are able to collect while businesses themselves have not yet perfected a technique of collating consumers’ combined personal and professional online data.
This data is also easily accessible. Twitter recommends that users keep their messages public so that everybody can see them and so that they can fully interact with other users. Similarly with Facebook, users often share huge volumes of personal information with friends on the website in order to keep them updated, but how much of this is in their control?
Of course, consumers still have a good degree of control as to what they choose to publish online. Facebook has strict privacy settings that let users customise what others can see. And internet users are starting to understand the complex rules when subscribing to websites, choosing to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’, so they can control how much they share. Yet having a large amount of information online and easily accessible is convenient. Creating a diverse yet consistent online profile is important both for consumers and businesses. It means consumers can create a broad online identity that spans personal and professional interests, be it joining a tennis club, looking for a job or building professional relationships.
However, the main disadvantage of consumers placing all of their information online – and spread across so many accounts – is that this has led to an increased risk of security attacks. The now notorious Sony Playstation security breach earlier this year, which resulted in the personal information of more than 75 million users being compromised, shows the growing importance of data and how it is vital that consumers keep their personal information secure.
Worryingly, over 40% of consumers we surveyed admit they ‘skim-read’ T&C documents online, which may mean them inadvertently agreeing to volunteer information they would not prefer to give to businesses. Having said this, businesses do not have access to all consumer data and are only able to access information if they have the individual’s consent.
So how can consumers and marketers work together to keep personal information secure? Consumers can do several things. Firstly, although 20% of surveyed consumers confessed that they use their mother’s maiden name as a password, they can instantly increase their online security by using several passwords across different accounts. Google recently launched an interesting campaign to encourage users to select obscure passwords based on acronyms of favourite quotations, in a bid to make users more aware of the importance of passwords.
Another way consumers can make sure they manage their information securely online is by adjusting internet settings for maximum security to mimimise the risk of identity theft. Using reliable and secure payment methods and websites also helps reduce the risk of sensitive financial information going astray. With the growth of mobile technology, apps have also become a target for those looking to extract sensitive information. 60% of consumers we surveyed feel that their online information is safe, but by taking steps to ensure that mobile devices are secure they can further reduce the risks.
Marketers need to also play their part by making sure that their website and correspondences are secure, including making terms and conditions clear. Our research shows that a third of businesses are already taking responsibility for this, encouraging customers to regularly update their security information. Our research revealed that more than 50% of businesses and consumers believe information security is a joint responsibility that should be shared between businesses and individuals. It would be unrealistic to suggest that information can be 100% secure all of the time, but if consumers take responsibility for knowing where their information is going and businesses use this data responsibly, it will help to considerably reduce the risk of a security breach and encourage trust.
20 May 2013: In the third of our special series of articles profiling the database marketing industry, we catch up with Hopewiser, Alchemetrics, Callcredit and greenstone data solutions.
22 May 2013: Insurance provider Ageas has appointed Mark Hanson as Marketing Director for its two over 50s insurance brands, RIAS and Castle Cover.
20 May 2013: Comet Global Consulting, the customer interaction expert, has secured an additional two-year deal with Sky, to further develop and support the company’s customer relationship management and customer interaction systems and operations.
21 May 2013: — Experian has launched a new online credit risk and marketing portal putting a wealth of vital business information at the fingertips of UK SMEs.
8 May 2013: Hector Vass, former Systems Architect in the Customer Lifecycle and Optimisation team at the Lloyds Banking Group, has joined marketing analytics agency Metametrics as Chief Technology Officer.
8 May 2013: The Institute of Fundraising’s Special Interest Group for Insight in Fundraising has announced the shortlist of finalists for the Insight in Fundraising Awards 2013.
8 May 2013: ghd, the UK hair-straightening brand, has seen conversion rates soar as a result of improving the shopping experience on mobile devices using data gathered through Celebrus Technologies’ software.
7 May 2030: Maileva, a European leader in hybrid direct-mail solutions, and Selectabase, a supplier of marketing data, have joined forces to offer marketers what they call "a unique, easy-to-use and cost-effective direct-marketing solution".
7 May 2013: Really Simple Systems, one of the world’s largest providers of hosted CRM systems, has announced availability of an interface to Sage One – Sage's online accounting system.
15 Apr 2013: Following the launch of the Smartdepart suppression file last month, data and targeting specialist Wilmington Millennium has now launched Smartlink, a new goneaway database for direct marketers.
15 Apr 2013: Celebrus Technologies has deepened its partnership with Teradata through its new ability to feed individual-level digital channel data directly into Teradata Real-Time Interaction Manager.
15 Apr 2013: Data8, the data enrichment specialist, has added to its suite of real time data validation applications with the introduction of bank account validation.
15 Apr 2013: The consolidated revenue of Weborama, the European leader in the management, distribution and tracking of targeted online advertising, grew by 5% in the first quarter of 2013.
5 Apr 2013: Kwik-Fit Group has appointed customer engagement agency Lateral to handle the automotive company’s customer eCRM programme.
5 Apr 2013: It is predicted that, over the next year, the human race will produce 4 Zetabytes of new data, which represents about 1 quintillion new objects. Are marketers ready for this deluge and is it an opportunity or a threat, asks the IDM?