WebRef Update: Featured Article: 3 Myths of Internet Privacy | 2 | WebReference

WebRef Update: Featured Article: 3 Myths of Internet Privacy | 2

3 Myths of Internet Privacy

Know what you need, and know when to ask for it. For instance, a small text box and graphic on the top of every page asking a visitor to join your mailing list is a subtle way to build membership in your site. And, if they like what they see on your site, then they'll opt in when they are good and ready.

If you are an e-commerce retailer with a mail catalog and e-mail list, ask for either their home address or their e-mail address. Most Web visitors like to hold on to their mailing address until they give you the order. Asking for personal information too soon is just as bad as asking for too much. If you have a high-end product requiring phone follow-up, ask if they would like someone to follow up with them on a particular product or feature. Don't sneak the phone number out of them and then blister them with calls...

And, most importantly, if you don't need to know something - don't ask for it. You can't be accused of selling something you never had.

People aren't stupid. For those interested, you can provide a link to a detailed page showing where your revenues come from. Or, you can give a link to an administrative area that discusses the focus of your site and how your site derives its income. A good example is a non-profit association. Put a pie chart graphic showing income from (in this example) 1)dues, 2)magazine sales, 3)technical pamphlets, and 4)conference fees.

People want to associate themselves with profitable companies who are going to be around next time they click on their "favorites" list. They want to see new features and content, and don't mind "paying" for these things as long as they see the value. Be up front with your returning visitors and you will be rewarded.

In summary, honest and open disclosure of the uses of people's personal information is key. The 5% who get upset when they see this type of disclosure wouldn't have bought anyway. Use plain language keeping the lawyers and MBA types in check. People on the Internet are savvier than the "suits" think, and fancy language equates to "I don't believe what I'm reading." Web visitors have become extremely sarcastic in the last few years, so the job of being "believed" becomes harder every day. Develop a reputation for honesty on your site and guard it dearly.

About the author:

Dave Murphy is the CEO of www.tek-tips.com, Tek-Tips Forums for technical computer professionals. Their independent technical forums for computer professionals do not allow any selling or recruiting.

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This article originally appeared in the January 20, 2000 edition of the WebReference Update Newsletter.


Comments are welcome
Written by Dave Murphy and

Revised: May 10, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/new/privacy2.html