Web Users Will Share Information for Better Service

Only 15 percent of Web users would be unwilling to provide personal information to Web marketers if that information improved their online service experience, according to a study by the Personalization Consortium.

More than half (51 percent) of respondents said they would share personal information in exchange for better service, while 33 percent had no opinion. The survey of 4,500 Web users’ opinions on personalization and online privacy was conducted in March by the Personalization Consortium.

The survey revealed that 73 percent of consumers find it helpful and convenient when a Web site “remembers” basic information about them. In fact, 62 percent of users say they dislike Web sites requesting personal information that they had already provided.

The survey also demonstrated that consumers are giving thought to privacy issues: 58 percent of users require a privacy statement on a Web site before sharing personal information, and 51 percent always read the privacy statement before registering on a site. However, the survey points out a need for companies to clarify their posted material: only 38 percent of respondents think that most privacy statements currently on Web sites are easy to understand.

“Consumers clearly understand that by supplying personal information to marketers online, they can save themselves valuable time and effort on the Web, and receive better targeted offers as well as better customer service,” said Don Peppers of Peppers and Rogers Group, co-chair of the Personalization Consortium. “Yet they are concerned about privacy and they want to understand the privacy policies of the Web sites they visit. We have a responsibility as an industry to develop consumer-friendly guidelines for managing, documenting, and enforcing standards of privacy. The survey gives us valuable feedback from the consuming public, which will help the consortium in setting its objectives.”

The survey measured consumers’ readiness to provide personal information to a Web site that would use the data to customize the online experience. Of those surveyed, 76 percent would divulge their hobbies and interests, 81 percent would provide their addresses, 95 percent would provide their email addresses and 96 percent would supply their names.

The email survey was sent to 20,000 adult Internet users 18 or older living in the United States, randomly selected from a permission-based, opt-in list.

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