Three ways to improve your privacy policy

Let me start by stating that I enjoy nothing more than taking that little peek under the hood and reading another organisation’s privacy policy. It tells you a lot about how they view their customer’s privacy. I also enjoy maintaining and improving the privacy policies across our range of brands. Now I know this isn’t most people’s cup of tea, and I get it.

To a lot of you reading a company’s privacy policy is boring and unexciting work. I hope that by you reading this little guide it might act as an easy way to get you to make some small improvements to the important element of your company’s online presence.

 

Why should you care about your privacy policy?

Without a privacy policy you are unable to use many marketing services, such as Google AdWords or many merchant and payment gateways. More importantly, to me anyway, is that a good, easy to navigate privacy policy gives your visitor an unobstructed view of how you’ll use their behavioral data. Transparency is key to building trust with your consumer and nowhere is this more important with the use of someone’s personal data.

Building real trust with your customer takes a lot of effort.

Before I begin I am going to assume that you’re privacy policy already conforms to the Australian Privacy Principles. If you’re not familiar with the Australian Privacy Principles I recommend reviewing the APP here:

and if you have the time (and the inclination) read the full Australian Privacy Act here:

It’s worth getting to know the legislation. The three elements listed below are not required legally, they are designed to assist a customer in navigating and understanding your privacy policy.

Three elements to a better privacy policy

1. Create a table of contents with anchor links.

This is all about making it easier for your customer to find what they are looking for. Placing a table of contents at the beginning of your privacy policy. We can go one step further by embedding anchor links into your table of contents. Anchor links enable your visitors to click and jump to a specific location within your privacy policy. For our example clicking on an item in your table of contents will take you directly to that section on the same page.

 

Creating anchor text is an easy two step process.

Firstly create the link in your table of contents, for example:

<a href=”#anchor”>Types of personal information we collect</a>

 

Secondly create the anchor in your text. I recommend embedding the link to a section heading:

<strong id=”anchor”>Types of personal information we collect</strong>

 

Great examples of this include:

 

2. Clear contact information.

Instead of burying your organisation’s contact information deep in your privacy policy place all your contact information just after your table of contents. We disclose all relevant privacy contact information using the following information.

For requests, complaints or inquiries contact Magnamail on:

Phone: 02 8874 8777
Fax: 02 8874 8780
Email: enquiries@magnamail.com.au
Post: Magnamail Pty Ltd, PO Box 880, North Ryde BC, NSW 1670

I also include this content at the very end of our privacy policy.

Great examples of this include:

I’m sorry but I have to plug our own privacy policy here. While researching this post I found no major company providing this information front and centre and above the fold. Contact information was either hidden among copy or located at the end of a policy.

 

3. Provide an accessible archive of your privacy policies. Use a ‘last updated’ date stamp.

Instead of only keeping your current privacy policy available for viewing create an archive to store previous versions after an update. Before moving an obsolete privacy policy to your new archive be sure to add a clear indication that this policy has been superseded and link to your current policy.

Finally when you update your privacy policy mark the date of the update clearly. I include this data after my contact information and before the content of the privacy policy.

Great examples of this include:

Note: Add your newly created archive pages to your website’s Robots.txt as a disallow: link to prevent these pages showing up in SERPs.

 

Conclusion

While not required by the APP these three additional steps do make is easier for visitors who are looking to learn more about how your organisation uses their personal information. Let’s not forget that our job as marketers is to make it as simple as possible for consumers to interact and trust our organisations.

I welcome your views and opinions, have I missed anything? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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