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At 9:01am on December 10, 2001, I received a Research Brief from the Center for Media Research.

The Harris Interactive Survey

It began with these words,

"If your marketing strategy is likely to intrude on the privacy of the customer, it's important to note the results of a new consumer survey released by Harris Interactive."

It then went on to state that,

"While large majorities of Americans concede that privacy notices are important, most people also find them too long and complicated."

Privacy Page Receives a Lot of Visitors

InternetVIZ is an Internet marketing company that specializes in creating customized corporate Internet newsletters. Thanks to our unique channel marketing system, and an innovative use of reference marketing, we are able to routinely draw large numbers of targeted and susceptible B2B prospects.

During the past two months, our privacy policy page has been among the most frequently visited on our site.

Survey Findings

Given the high number of visitors to this page, several of the Harris Interactive findings become extremely significant. These are:

" Nearly 64% did not read notices at all or have only glanced at them.
" Only 3% of respondents reviewed online privacy notices carefully most of the time.
" The top reasons for not reading privacy policies more carefully were a lack of time/interest and a high level of difficulty understanding the notices.

Quick Analysis

My take is that people read privacy statements to satisfy a need for trust. However, while the question of privacy is important to them, they get bored quickly when learning about the details. The marketer needs to establish a level of trust during the initial two seconds of screen time in order to prompt readers to continue for another 30-45 seconds.

Once a company has won a prospect's trust, the trust will continue to rise - with no further prompting from the marketer - during the buying cycle. If a prospect trusts a company, they will develop a buying momentum that will eventually lead to a sale.

What does it mean for real world marketing?

The high volume of traffic to our privacy statement makes it an ideal place to earn immediate prospect trust. Because the prospect takes himself there, he is extremely open to feeling trust toward the company. He has never encountered the company before and has no reason not to be completely trusting. The company has to reveal that it takes these basic consumer desires for granted and has prepared itself. When the consumer doesn't have to think about trusting the company is when the prospect-to-company trust is highest.

The Privacy Page

You can view the InternetVIZ privacy page here. As you can see, the message continually demonstrates trust. It also provides the information clearly and quickly thereby conforming to these Harris findings:

" 77% of respondents favored a short, concise privacy policy
" 70% of respondents agreed that all companies "should use the same summary or checklist for their privacy policies"
" 50% identified six separate categories of information that they said were "very important" or "important" elements to be considered for a privacy policy

Don't let your privacy page fall outside the vision of your marketing program. If you do, you could be passing up an opportunity to attract interested prospects.

Jason Kassel is a founding partner in InternetVIZ, a marketing services firm specializing in creating, distributing, and managing customized Internet newsletters. Here's an example of their newsletter.

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Jason Kassel is a founding partner in InternetVIZ (https://www.internetviz.com), an Internet marketing firm helping companies find, acquire and retain customers through email newsletters. He can be reached at jason@internetviz.com.