Marketing and Cybersecurity – They’re Not As Different As You Think

Today, companies all over the world see internet security as one of their most important technical challenges but few regard this as a marketing concern and a way of appealing to customers. Security teams typically work to hide the measures they put in place rather than clearly showing consumers their data is being protected by the latest technology. Yet research shows that more obvious, publicized security could actually help to increase a company’s client base.

A study carried out by MasterCard in conjunction with PSFK Lab found that 95 percent of online bank customers expect up-to-date security measures, while 89 percent of online shoppers and 88 percent of people who pay their bills online want to see the latest security technology on the sites they frequent. Meanwhile, 83 percent of respondents said they are looking forward to new technologies that will make their data even more secure. This growing concern over online privacy is something we see regularly at Reputation Defender. Our client base is made up of concerned internet users who want to educate themselves on the latest security issues and take as many privacy precautions as they can.

An Unlikely Team

At first glance, the security and the marketing teams do not seem like a good match. With more and more brand promotion taking place online, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is now often seen as one of the “key drivers of digital-based growth”, yet marketing strategies are usually compartmentalized away from more technical aspects of the internet, such as security and basic site functionality.

Yet surprisingly, the CMO and the the head of cybersecurity (CIO) share many goals. Internet security is now an inherent part of what defines a positive experience for customers and as such is a vital concern for the marketing department. Showing that your site has advanced professional security measures increases overall trust and confidence in the brand and can be an important promotional measure that attracts potential customers. Many of today’s consumers say they are prepared to invest valuable time into new payment methods and updated shopping techniques that will increase online security. It’s no longer an advantage for companies to push security into the background; instead they should be letting consumers know they are doing more to protect their data than competitors.

Marketing and cybersecurity share another common goal in the need to develop enhanced customer intimacy. Habits, such as location, product choices and the number of different devices used to sign on, tell a lot about a customer. From a marketing perspective, this information can be used to develop and promote new products that will appeal personally to the consumer; from a security point of view these tags provide an extra layer of protection. It’s possible to steal a password but faking a number of different signature habits is much more difficult. When customers stray a long way from their traditional profile, it helps to alert security personal that someone else is in control of their account.

Cybersecurity Marketing Techniques

There’s a fine line to tread between marketing your security practices to customers and making an overt claim that could invite hackers to take on the challenge of proving you wrong. These are some of the ways brands can subtly alert consumers to the fact that they take security concerns seriously:
• A message to existing customers – A customer alert advertising that security practices have been updated helps to send the message that this is a priority. This should include a link to further details letting consumers know what was changed and how it will protect them. Most people won’t follow the link but those that do need to find the information they are looking for.
• A visual tag – This can take the form of a seal or icon that visually suggests your site is protected at all times. If you work with a well-known security company, using their logo will help to add credibility to your site. Whatever tag you chose, make sure you explain what it is and how it protects consumers, either under security settings or somewhere else appropriate on the site. Concerned consumers will see that you’re not making an empty promise.
• Additional authentication steps – Adding steps that verify user identify lets consumers know you’re aware of the risks. This could take the form of a security question, two-way verification with another device, or a slight change in the shopping process. It’s a good idea to give customers a choice about which type of authentication they prefer. Remember today’s consumers are more interested in security than they are in hassle free banking or shopping, so make sure they know they are part of the process.

Security for the Future

In the future, it is likely that identity verification will look a lot more like the data collected for marketing purposes than the traditional password system we know today. Amazon, eBay, Google and other big companies have already incorporated out-of-band authentication; a two-step verification process that incorporates an unrelated channel or platform, including biometric markers such as voice recognition. Some companies may eventually decide to eliminate passwords altogether for long-term customers that they know well. Instead security would rely on various biometrics as well as online habits – a kind of digital profile or “DNA” that can be hard to impersonate. There’s no foolproof security system but adding layers and identification tests will make it harder for hackers and encourage them to move on to an easier target.

See Reputation Defender’s blog post on ORM for small businesses for advice on how to improve your internet marketing.

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