Anyone who has ever watched Spider-Man will know that with great power comes great responsibility.

Digital technology has given marketers access to an unfathomable amount of customer data, however it should be used in a responsible manner for risk of destroying consumer trust.

This is particularly important in our world of freemium products that rely on a value exchange of digital services in return for access to personal data.

A new Econsultancy/Acxiom report investigates consumer attitudes towards sharing their data with companies, revealing that opinion is split on whether brands can be trusted.

Only 6% of respondents in the Delivering Value in the Data Exchange Survey indicated that they had ‘a great deal of trust’ in companies to whom they provided data. 

A further 21% stated they had ‘a good amount’ while 48% were rather more cautious stating they had ‘a certain amount of trust’. 

A quarter of respondents stated they had not very much or no trust at all.

How much trust do you typically have in companies when you provide your personal information?

Separate research from the DMA shows that trust in a brand is vital if people are to be convinced to part with their personal data.

The report investigates attitudes to email marketing, asking what convinces consumers that a brand will handle their data responsibly.

Trust in a brand was the most popular answer (26%), followed by a clear and concise data protection policy (25%).

What convinces consumers a brand will handle their data responsibly?

We’ve previously looked at the different ways in which brands try to capture personal data when customers sign up to email newsletters.

Techniques vary, with some companies asking for loads of information up front, while others just get the email address then ask for more data in follow up emails.

But regardless of the precise method for collecting data, it will all be for nought if a brand hasn’t already established consumer trust.

As the DMA report suggests, this gets built by a range of factors, from the product itself, through marketing and by other influences – a positive customer experience, as mentioned by 18%, for example.

Reasons for signing up to email

The DMA survey also asked respondents why they might sign up to receive email from a particular brand.

As one might expect, discounts are the most popular reason (38%), while other freebies and offers also scored highly.

But it’s also interesting to note that ‘trust in the company’ came in third with 35% and ‘like the brand’ scored 36%.

Reasons to sign up for email