Address Customers’ Privacy Concerns with Location-based Marketing

One of the biggest obstacles preventing location-based services from really catching fire is privacy. To address the privacy protection concerns of potential customers, you need a few rules.

Treating others as you wish to be treated is a good start, but here are a few other things to remember:

  • Be transparent.

    Make sure users know exactly what you want to collect from them and how it will be used. Make sure you address the following questions:

    • When participants check in, who exactly is seeing their whereabouts?

    • How do you target groups of people?

    • Are participants putting others at risk if people know their exact whereabouts?

    Sharing a location, as with sharing anything online, can cause problems. Customers need to be comfortable with people seeing their data. You’re asking them to become in essence public figures. Make it clear in your terms and agreements what customers will be divulging in terms of what data is shared and in what application.

  • Keep your requests simple.

    Do not ask for too much from your users. Make the requests easy to understand and don’t try to do too many things. If you confuse them, they will be leery of trusting your campaign. Make sure they see the link to the data you are requesting and the reward they are receiving. The reward should be commensurate with the amount of data they are providing.

  • Protect their identity.

    Do not sell participants’ data or expose their identities without their permission.

Consumers are rightly anxious when it comes to broadcasting where they are in any particular moment. You can encourage people to check if you offer more private options:

  • Off-grid check-ins: The platforms are making attempts to address privacy. Some allow customers to check in and share information with the platform, but not with the public. In foursquare, this is called an off-grid check-in.

    A check-in may not stay off the grid. If a friend mentions someone in his check-in, the previous off-grid check-in is suddenly public.

  • Private groups: Whrrl (now part of Groupon) used a model that allowed someone to name two groups of people who can see check-ins: friends and trusted friends. It gave users another level of privacy. Although Whrrl no longer exists in its current state, other LBSs may provide this type of functionality in the future.

  • Geofencing: Geofencing is a passive check-in where someone merely walks into a predetermined area. A geofence is a series of locations that forms an area. Users can set them up to make sure that onlookers cannot see their whereabouts when they are inside the geofence.

  • Microsharing: Applications like Glympse allow customers to give an exact location to a series of people for a specified period of time.

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