Regaining customer trust in a world gone data-mad

Posted on 05/05/2021 by Julie Reid

Customers have grown wary about giving brands access to their data. Here’s how your brand can regain their trust through a true value exchange.

When the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke – their Facebook app had accessed the personal information of 87 million profiles without clear consent – it felt like simply the latest example among many of a company taking people’s data and then using it to try to influence action. In this specific case, to get people to vote for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Mainstream society has been flooded for years with headlines about data breaches containing our names, addresses, passwords and credit card numbers. A recent YouGov survey found 72% of British consumers are worried about their personal data – such as email, chat logs, files and pictures – being accessed.

2020 was particularly painful, with weekly warnings of misinformation campaigns concerning politics and the public health crisis.

And we laugh uneasily at our friends’ anecdotes of how their device must be listening to them as they’re now being followed around the internet with ads for products or services they never typed into a search bar.

The slow erosion of trust

All of this – both the big, scary stories of stalker-like behaviour as well as the small irritations of not knowing how to access a website without accepting multiple cookies – erodes trust in brands.

It can lead to feelings of frustration, anger or even helplessness.

It’s why people will select Apple’s new ‘don’t track me’ option on iOS 14.5 or block ads or download something like Gener8, recently seen on Dragon’s Den, where they can be financially compensated for explicitly sharing their data.

And this lack of trust was stated as the reason why Google made the decision to remove support for 3rd-party cookies.

They cited a study from the Pew Research Center that found ‘72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits’.

We know that people want convenience, additional functionality, speed, access to quality content and bespoke experiences – and they are willing to give up their data for these things so long as they deem them worthwhile.

So what can brands do to rebuild this trust?

building blocks

Creating a true value exchange

  • Rather than relying on 3rd-party data, sit down with your customers and find out what is going on in their lives and how your products or services can help them
  • Build out your 1st-party database through lead generation campaigns, content marketing that solves problems and by creating communities that provide value and meaning for your customers
  • Create content, experiences and convenience that are worth the data exchange you’re asking for and be sure your data collection practices are GDPR or CCPA compliant
  • Form meaningful data partnerships with complementary brands and influencers so that everyone wins through the collaboration


  • Make sure your communication around your customers’ data is transparent, consistent and clear – the goal is informed consent 100% of the time
  • Get started with contextual marketing, placing your ads in the most appropriate places to be read, heard or watched by the type of people you want to sell to
  • Invest in the marketing technology to implement personalisation on owned websites and mobile apps based on first-party data and explicit interactions
  • Capture attention and inspire action through scroll-stopping creative visuals and compelling message

People have a right to feel safe online and to be in control of how their personal data is collected and used. As the policies and norms governing how the internet works change over the next few years, brands have an opportunity to play a leading role.

If you want to talk to someone about how to navigate these changes, get in touch with one of our specialists.

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Regaining customer trust in a world gone data-mad

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