Why brands must create ‘Moments of Trust’ in their data practices

Michael Daley
By Michael Daley | 9 September 2021
Mike Daley.

Digitas Australia’s Head of Data & Analytics, Michael Daley

For decades, marketers have popularised the concept of Moments of Truth. That is, whenever a customer interacts with a business, they aim to create a positive impression and outcome, resulting in the success of that business. But at a time when 83% of Australians would like the government to do more to protect their privacy, other important moments are coming to the fore – moments I like to call Moments of Trust.

What do I mean by this? If you use customer data for anything, whether it’s acquisition, engagement or service, you’re in the business of trust. A Moment of Trust therefore is a direct or indirect interaction that impacts customers’ confidence in your brand to responsibly use their data.

Through Apple’s recent iOS changes and million-dollar marketing campaign, the company is challenging your customers to decide whether your brand’s Moments of Trust outweigh the value they place on their privacy.

How does that play out? Well, when my iPhone asked if Spotify could track me, I said, ‘Yes!’ But for Facebook, I said ‘No’.

Facebook pleaded with me first. By allowing tracking, I’d be keeping Facebook free and supporting businesses. I’m a digital marketer, so I arguably know more than most about how Facebook uses my data and how this fuels a digital economy for brands. Still, I said ‘No’.

I made this decision in the blink of an eye. Those accumulated Moments of Trust made it an instant choice. Similar moments are influencing customers worldwide to make the same split-second decisions on how and why brands should be able to leverage their data.

Why your consumers are thinking about these moments

Consumers are woke about how brands are using their data. They see it when ads follow them around. They talk about it with their friends. They hear about it on Netflix specials. These are the frames of reference influencing how they decide to share data with brands.

They want you to use their data if it means better outcomes for them. Research by Epsilon indicates that 80% of respondents are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalised experiences and 90% find personalisation appealing.

But they also know the potential for misuse. eMarketer published findings on where US consumers stand on what’s considered ‘creepy’ versus ‘cool’ (arguably euphemisms for ‘trustworthy’ and ‘untrustworthy’). And many modern-day tailored experiences in the digital marketer’s wheelhouse are still considered ‘creepy’:

  •  Recommendations from a brand based on past purchases is mainly ‘cool’ (73%)
  •  Email reminders about abandoned products is borderline (54% cool)
  • Advertisements that follow consumers across devices is mainly ‘creepy’ (66%)

Some practices are creepier than others. But my decision to allow Spotify and block Facebook reveals how customers perceive the creepiness of these data-fuelled practices will flex depending on which brand is serving them.

Two types of Moments of Trust

When it comes to sharing data with companies, Moments of Trust have two fundamental layers: brand and experience.

Brand Moments of Trust are an accumulation of what consumers have been exposed to broadly around how you use customer data. Data breaches, reports of unethical data practices, anecdotal negative experiences all ladder up to negative perceptions that limit the likelihood of customers sharing their data.

Experience Moments of Trust reflect direct interactions consumers have with your company. Incessant retargeting, unrequested messages or alerts and ‘how did you know that about me’ personalised experiences also influence whether consumers trust you enough to click ‘Allow to track’.

So, why did I click ‘No’ to Facebook? Well, there were a few key reasons:

Brand Moments of Trust

  • The Cambridge Analytica scandal
  • Coverage in the Social Dilemma
  • Regular reports of increased governmental scrutiny

Experience Moments of Trust

  • Having people I’ve barely met recommended as friends without knowing how Facebook had connected us
  • Receiving overly targeted, work-related advertising

On the other hand, I clicked ‘Allow to track’ to Spotify because of:

 Brand Moments of Trust

Experience Moments of Trust

  • Outstanding song recommendations – I love my ‘Discover Weekly’
  • Creation of personalised, nostalgic compilations
  • Timely notifications of new albums relevant to me

In rolling out iOS 14, not to mention the further industry disruption of iOS15, Apple is challenging consumers to declare their level of trust with brands. Is their privacy the top priority (Don’t Track), or are they willing to cede that privacy because of positive Moments of Trust (Track)?

To influence Moments of Trust as a brand, you need to check in with your approach to your customers’ data, ensuring you’re:

  • Instilling an understanding throughout the organisation of how your approach to data upholds crucial customer relationships;
  • Applying a lens of trust over your existing data strategy;
  • Being clear with customers on how and why you’re collecting and using their data;
  • Allowing customers to influence how they’d like you to use their data; and
  • Identifying metrics that help you measure consumer trust in your data practices (e.g. changes in results following the iOS 14 rollout).

Most importantly, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were prompted with ‘Track’ or ‘Don’t Track’, what would you choose?

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