How to win mobile customers in the ‘Game of Trust'

Think the 'Game of Thrones' is bloody? For mobile marketers, conquering customers in the Game of Trust can be a brutal high-stakes battle.

trust in marketing
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Marketers trying to win customers in the world of mobility face a daunting challenge: gaining their trust. And the Game of Trust can be just as unsettling as anything seen on HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones," only more so because this isn't fiction. After all, you don't want your followers losing trust in you and accusing you of treason. That would be a bloody mess.

For marketers, trust is a double-edged sword. They're trying to enter into the consumer conversation over mobile apps and native advertising as a trusted partner by offering helpful content and personalized services. In doing so, they need consumers to trust them and give up personal data, including mobile identifiers. Yet marketers serve a bigger master -- the corporate brand -- and must ultimately use customer data to drive sales.

"As marketers will need to use more personal data to power mobile and contextual experiences, we expect consumer distrust for brands to increase," say Forrester analysts Thomas Husson and Fatemeh Khatibloo in a report entitled, "How Will People Trust You?"

Trust in the age of tech

Throw in wearables, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile identification technology, and you've got one explosive episode. The failed Google Glass experiment put the lack of trust and privacy on full display literally on people's faces. Discreet data-harvesting technology, such as IoT sensors, harks back to the world of Westeros where no one can be trusted. Through mobile location tracking, marketers wield the power to identify you wherever you go.  

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Here's a rundown of some scary research in the Forrester report:

  • 46 percent of smartphone users have experienced a company taking advantage of their personal data and using it for something other than a previously agreed upon purpose, according to a Loudhouse-Orange survey.
  • Just four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95 percent of individuals, a New York Times article says.
  • A Carnegie Mellon University study found that a person's location has been shared an average 5,398 times.

Consumers aren't taken privacy violations lightly, either. There's real payback for brands that don't take consumer trust seriously. One out of three U.S. adults have canceled a transaction because of privacy concerns, according to Forrester. Nearly half say they would stop shopping at retail stores that track in-store behavior.

How to market trust

How can marketers turn the tide on trust? Forrester recommends they start looking at the lack of trust as an opportunity rather than a legal and compliance issue. In other words, trust can be a real competitive advantage in today's hotly contested mobile market. Just ask Apple.

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Apple has made privacy paramount on the iPhone. Through privacy settings and transparency, in terms of publicly stating what Apple and iOS app makers can and cannot see, Apple has been able to rise above competitors in consumer trust. For the anonymous data it does collect, Apple provides reasons why, such as improving Maps and Siri performance for iPhone and iPad customers.

Marketers tend to grab as much data as possible through their mobile apps, but Forrester advises to collect only data that the brand needs to perform a mutually agreed upon service with the consumer. Marketers should also be proactive and transparent by sending out notifications about data collection and the reasons for it -- that is, the benefits a consumer will receive. And, like Apple, marketers should give consumers control with advanced privacy settings.

As marketers jockey to gain consumer trust, it's important to remember that mobile sits at the heart of contextual privacy, Forrester says. For one thing, mobile phones lack cookies that track websites visited but contains more personal data. Given the personal nature of the mobile phone -- or the "mobile throne" -- and the fact that it's always with us, it's really where the trust battle will be won or lost.

"Trust is already the most important component to build brand equity," say Husson and Khatilbloo. "In the next five to 10 years, expect trust to become paramount and a trust index to completely reconfigure the ranking of the top 100 global brands."

This story, "How to win mobile customers in the ‘Game of Trust'" was originally published by CIO.