One of the biggest challenges of doing business online is building trust with your potential customers.
Within seconds, a website visitor discovers the product or service you are offering, determines your level of authority, and chooses whether or not you are trustworthy. Without easy-to-find policies and proof that your company is letting customers have control over their personal information, your visitors will feel uneasy and take their business elsewhere.
The solution? Institute a privacy center and turn a skeptical website visitor into a paying customer.
1. What is a Privacy Center?
Additionally, it offers privacy preferences which give users control over the collection and handling of their private data.
2. Why Do You Need One?
There are two big reasons to arm your website with a privacy center: customer relations and legal compliance.
Build Consumer Trust
Instead of having customer relationship guidelines spread throughout your website, having all the privacy information in one place communicates to the consumer that you care about their security and you take your position as a guardian of their information seriously.
Furthermore, it includes a clearly-labelled link so they can unsubscribe from your contact list at any time and offers the customer the ability to delete their personal information from your database.
Giving users the ability to erase themselves from your system is a right dictated by the GDPR known as the “right to be forgotten.” This is an important feature in keeping your customers happy and your website out of trouble.
When customers have control of their information, they can step into a relationship with your business with confidence, knowing their personal data will not be abused.
Help Comply with Privacy Regulations
Your privacy center is the master tool in your compliance arsenal – especially when navigating rules and regulations such as the GDPR, CalOPPA, and COPPA.
Every business is required to comply with a variety of rules and regulations depending on the location of your business and your target audience. If you offer any kind of products or services online, you are likely affected by the following:
- GDPR – The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects all businesses who offer products or services online to people who are located in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In May of 2018, the GDPR will be fully in force. A privacy center can be part of your action plan toward GDPR compliance.
- CalOPPA – While the United States does not have a federal law mandating privacy policies for online businesses, the state of California created a privacy law called the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) which requires compliance for any website on which a resident of California could share personal information.
- COPPA – The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a federal law created by the Federal Trade Commission regarding online privacy protection in regards to children under the age of 13. If your website has the potential to invite users under the age of 13, you need to investigate the details of this protective law and implement appropriate compliance measures on your site.
If your business needs to comply with the GDPR but you’re not sure where to start, read our What is GDPR? guide to learn the basics of this new privacy law.
The bottom line is if you collect personal information from customers such as their name, address, contact information, etc. then you must clearly communicate to your customers their rights and give them control over their personal information.
Even if you have privacy policies, terms and conditions, and unsubscribe options scattered across your website, if they are not gathered together in a privacy center, they will be hard for your customers to find and could lead to complaints filed against you.
While it is not a law or regulation, Google Safe Browsing (GSB) is the police force of the internet. Implementing a privacy center will also help to keep you on the right side of Google in accordance with GDB standards.
3. What Should a Privacy Center Include?
A privacy center should include:
If you don’t yet have a terms and conditions to link in your privacy center, use our free terms of service generator to create a customized policy in minutes.
- privacy controls such as removing collected data, unsubscribing from marketing emails or messages, and opting out of having their information collected, used, or stored.
- contact forms that allow users to edit or delete their information. Customers feel more secure when they can control these settings.
- a direct link from your homepage. The link text on your homepage should be as big or bigger than the text around it in order to comply with CalOPPA. The word “privacy” must be used in the link text.
- specification that you do not collect data from children under the age of 13 or describe that you need parental consent before doing so.
4. Examples of Top-Notch Privacy Centers
Walt Disney Company has an excellent example of a user-friendly privacy center. Since they are a company geared toward children, they include a tab at the top for parents so that they can make their COPPA compliance clear and can make parents feel at ease with their children using Disney websites.
Yahoo’s privacy center is a good example of employing plain, easy-to-understand language. The paragraphs are simple, yet they include links to the full documents of the privacy policies, terms and conditions, and other legally-required information.
ClassDojo, a communication app for parents, teachers, and students, is a great example of building trust through their privacy center page. The page begins with the tagline “find out how we protect our community” which lets the customer know that the company is concerned about their customer’s privacy. The company also intersperses testimonials on their privacy center page to further build trust as the customer scrolls down the page.
5. What Should You Do If You Can’t Afford a Full Privacy Center?
Instituting a full privacy center with all the bells and whistles can be a taxing operation that takes time and resources.
This is the most important – and legally necessary – action that you can take toward keeping your website safe, compliant, and user-friendly.
In time, add additional policies, systems, and controls until you have the makings of a award-winning privacy center.