New research from Microsoft has discovered that brands are at risk of losing consumers’ trust online over the sharing of customer data.
Microsoft Advertising’s bi-annual Digital Trends Report has revealed a 25% difference between what consumers are aware of sharing online and what they believe brands share about them without their explicit consent.
The study also demonstrated that consumers are more comfortable sharing some kinds of data compared to others. Types of information that consumers are relatively happy to share include personal data such as date of birth and address (57% of respondents) and demographic categories such as age (50%).
Microsoft also found that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of their data. 61% of respondents considered their data to have a cash value, for instance, while 59% were willing to exchange data for points in loyalty schemes. 27% were also willing to give up data to facilitate automated processes online.
Trust Equals Loyalty
These statistics show that a lack of trust between brands and consumers is being caused by two things. Firstly, consumers feel that types of data they don’t want to share are being shared without their consent. Secondly, many consumers don’t think they’re being fairly compensated for data they are willing to share.
Brands need to address these two issues in order to regain trust.
But there are other major threats to brands’ reputations online that also need addressing. Security of data is one of the biggest. Barely a week goes by without news that some prominent brand’s site has been hacked, and research done in 2014 indicated that 45% of US shoppers planned to avoid doing their Christmas shopping with retailers who had suffered a security breach that year.
Consumers’ trust in online brands can also be eroded by software bugs. Images and videos that fail to display properly, broken links and faulty checkouts can frustrate and alienate customers using apps and websites, while also leading them to question the security of their data.
A website full of bugs or defects significantly reduces the brand perceived quality and security. Consequently, encouraging users to use competitive sites or apps, as they are deemed more trustworthy.
One way for brands to begin to address issues of trust with consumers, then, is to ensure high levels of online security and functionality by rigorously testing their software. As far as functional and GUI testing goes, partnering with a high-quality web testing company is a good option for many brands.
Digivante, for instance, maintains a community of over 55,000 professional testers. This enables us to deploy teams of hundreds of testers to thoroughly scrutinise software for bugs on a high number of unique mobile devices. A large website can be tested on up to 200 different Smartphones and tablets in just 2 days, for example, and apps in less than 24 hours.
Microsoft’s research should be a wake-up call for brands everywhere and using web testing to combat trust issues will lead to revenue and traffic increases, as more conversions are completed on your site or app.