How to Optimize Your Site for Data Transparency

February 27, 2020

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Browse Sitespect’s blog or social media posts, and you’ll see a lot of discussion around data security, privacy, and management. In between 2018’s enactment of GDPR and last week’s announcement that Chrome is going to “kill the cookie” lives lots and lots of content about how to accomplish data-driven decision making. So, while data-driven decision making isn’t (and shouldn’t be) going anywhere, the way we get that data and what we do with it is changing. 

Last week eMarketer published a piece on the ways brands are becoming more transparent with their customers about what data they capture and how they use it, citing a couple of studies showing that customers are more willing to provide their information if they understand how it will be used. A MarTech Series article from September cites that 70% of American consumers would be happy to share their data with companies if they knew it was stored securely and for what reason. 

This feels like an apt time to say that data security has always been at the forefront of SiteSpect’s design, and we always protect our clients and your customers’ data to the highest standards. Still, the evolving data landscape is changing the way we communicate about and collect data. We’re seeing a move towards leaner data collection, meaning collecting the data we need to provide the best experience and not collecting what becomes dark data — which an IBM study found accounts for about 80% of all collected data. There are two sides to minimizing the Dark Data problem. One, we can be more precise about what data we collect, and two, we can be better about analyzing that data and using it to provide benefit to customers. 

So, to recap, we’re looking at evolving into a data-driven landscape with two new trends. 

  1. Companies are going to need to get more transparent about what they are collecting and why. 
  2. Companies will pare down the amount of data they collect and get better at working with the data they have.

Like so much else, the way forward seems to be a new focus for A/B testing

How to Be Transparent

As cited above, customers are more likely to trust your brand and provide information when they understand what you want to do with it. The best way to find the appropriate balance of ease and transparency is by A/B testing. Let’s look at an example. 

Many websites have a pop-up for first time visitors on their homepage, sometimes it offers a discount, and usually asks for an email address. Try different messaging in that popup. For example, include wording like, “provide your email so we can save items you’ve liked,” or “provide your email and choose what emails you’d like to receive.” Test this wording against messaging without a reason for collecting an email and see what your customers respond to. 

This approach answers a few valuable questions. First, is one reason for providing information more compelling than another? Second, how does this information directly improve the customer experience?

If you have fewer responses when you ask for an email address to receive a newsletter than when you offer to provide a personalized homepage, then you know which experience is more valuable to your customer.

How to Cut Down on Dark Data

Perhaps the biggest paradigm shift we’re facing is the move away from collecting data just because we can. Where sites used to take any information they could get, savvy customers are now choosing to only give the information they are comfortable with. This means your conversion rates could take a downturn if you don’t build that trust with your customers. To cut down on collecting excess data (and improve your relationship with your customers), walk through the user experience and determine what information you need to make it better. This process will be much the same as your A/B testing roadmap process. 

As you walk through, note what information you collect about your customer, and what amount of that information you actually need in order to optimize their experience. By A/B testing, you can determine where that data matters to the customer and where it doesn’t. This approach can refine your archive of data and improve the experience for your customer — a win / win in our book.

To learn more about SiteSpect, visit our website.

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Kevin Plankey is the Director of Demand Generation for SiteSpect and is responsible for marketing operations to include strategy and implementation of all demand generation efforts: social, email, website, organic/paid media, and event planning & promotion.

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