By Andrew Sharp

We believe that privacy is about building trust. As we mark Data Privacy Day, take the opportunity to review your use of cookies from the customer’s perspective. Are you giving them information that will help them to trust you? Are you showing that you trust them?

Involve people in the review who are not driven by your current marketing metrics. Customer service staff, for example, may be able to help you see the world through your customers’ eyes.

Make sure that your cookie preference mechanism is simple and offers three choices. It should enable customers to reject all cookies with a single click, to manage detailed preferences if they wish, and to accept all cookies. Managing detailed preferences must be done without proposing that they allow all cookies. Don’t make it harder to follow some paths than others. Customers are increasingly wary of sharing their data, so demonstrate that you trust them to choose appropriately and that you will respect their choice.

Check that you are explaining clearly, in terms that the customer will understand, why you want to drop each set of cookies and how you will use them. Keep it simple, avoiding technical jargon, and just be honest about what you plan – for example, “when you visit other sites or social media which carry advertising, we’d like to be able show you advertising that we hope will be relevant based on what you’ve looked at on our site” is much clearer than describing marketing cookies as “Used by us or third party partners to collect information about your online behaviour or location to show you relevant or personalised content or advertising on this and other sites”. Some people will be happy with that and will accept, some find it intrusive and won’t. Gaining consent from the first group and not the second should improve your advertising effectiveness whilst respecting the customer’s right to choose.