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Improve Your Conversion Rate with Your Privacy Policy

By Stephen Da Cambra on April 21, 2012 10:51 am

Way back in March, 2000, Business Week ran a cover story about internet privacy that included a survey of users, the vast majority of which were either “somewhat” or “very” concerned about the privacy of their personal information online.

It’s an excellent article, with suggestions for developing a universal icon to indicate privacy protection, advice on reassuring users and, in a nod to just how long ago this was, there’s a quote from “New York District Attorney Spitzer”.

Fast forward 12 years and online privacy in now entrenched in laws like the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) and the California Online Privacy Protection Act, which generally requires that, if you collect personal information online from residents of California, you must have a clearly visible link to a privacy policy that outlines the information you are collecting, how the information may be shared with others and how users can edit the information.

When you add to this the evolution of cloud computing, the digitizing and networking of employee information and the various efforts to integrate electronic health records online, it becomes quite clear that privacy of online information goes far beyond names, addresses and credit card numbers.

If most internet users were concerned about the privacy of their online data 12 years ago, imagine their level of concern today. Those users are your potential customers.

So where is your privacy policy listed on your web site?

While users’ concerns and the laws of the land are very compelling reasons to create and/or raise the profile of your privacy policy, they are not the only ones.

Google,Yahoo and Bing produce web results in ever-increasing competition with each other, which makes them very sensitive to the quality of their product.  If any of the results they produce are tarnished by issues of privacy, or lack thereof, it could have a devastating effect on their market share. In an effort to ensure some quality control, search engines have enacted protocols and guidelines for privacy policies on web sites.

And we all know what’s at risk when we don’t follow a search engine’s “guidelines”.

There is the potential for your site to be suspended or lose its search engine rank if it collects personal information, but does not have an adequate privacy policy.

Your Privacy Policy & Your Conversion Rate

With the heightened concern your customers have about the privacy of their information, increasing demand for privacy policies through law and search engine guidelines, you may want to consider the following:

1. Even if you’re not an ecommerce site, you should have a privacy policy. If all you want to ask for  is an email address, make sure you have a visible privacy policy.

2. The link to your privacy policy should be more than a grey item in your footer menu.

3. Don’t just cover your ass. Make sure the wording of your privacy policy focuses on your customers’ deep, well-founded concern about their privacy in clear, comprehensive language.

4. Highlight the link to your privacy policy by placing it near “checkout”, “add to cart”, “buy” and other points of purchase.

5. Use more engaging wording than “Privacy Policy” for the link, maybe even design an icon or button.

What happens if you do these five things? You will have created a competitive advantage by making your customers’ privacy a high priority. How? Look around – do you see a lot of other sites with prominent privacy policies?  The trust and credibility you create can only boost your conversion rate.

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