Sharat Potharaju is cofounder and CEO of Mobstac, a QR code and mobile marketing company.
Whether you’re leading a B2B or a B2C company, it’s likely your marketing strategy for 2021 and beyond increasingly relies on digital marketing tools and partnerships. Unfortunately (and inevitably), this shift comes with specific security concerns for your company and its audience.
While there are many vendors out there who claim to put security and online safety first, it can be difficult to discern what exactly these companies are doing behind the scenes. Some of this is due to their own privacy and security concerns, but that doesn’t mean you should be left in the dark as their partner.
The next frontier of consumer security is located in the space between your company’s digital experience and the tools your partners provide. To help you navigate this often-overlooked space, here are four questions you can use to evaluate the security of your digital marketing partner’s products and services.
1. What level of security do they offer?
There are three key phrases to listen for in their answer:
• Secure Sockets Layer Service (SSL), which allows businesses to add “HTTPS” to their domain to indicate that their website is safe and secure.
• SOC 2 compliance is by no means the norm, especially for smaller companies, but this is a standard that’s attainable for martech companies that are serious about consumer security. At MobStac, we recently became SOC 2 I compliant, which provides a higher standard of security for consumers and businesses that work with us.
• GDPR and CCPA compliance is the standard today. If you have customers or end users in California or the EU, it’s necessary that the vendors you partner with are also prepared to deliver this level of data privacy, control and security every step of the way.
As a general rule, if a vendor can’t at least match the level of security you provide through your own website and applications, they simply aren’t the right fit for your needs.
2. Can you customize their products to look and feel consistent with your brand identity?
You’d never purchase a webstore template or hire an app designer who couldn’t help you make platform experiences consistent with your brand. If consumers can’t visually confirm that the site they’re on is legitimate and affiliated with their brand of choice, you’ll lose their trust and, in short order, their business.
Whether you’re looking for help marketing your restaurant’s menu or selling houses using standard in-ground signage, you should find vendors that can accurately match your brand’s:
• Color scheme
• Logos and typeface
• Security indicators (including safe URLs)
To assure your customers that your brand has their privacy and security interests at heart, your brand’s visual identity must carry over to your marketing vendors’ products.
3. Where do they redirect your customers?
Marquee brands and enterprise-grade businesses cannot afford not to work with vendors that can deliver a custom URL for every link they redirect their customers toward online today. Your vendors should have the ability to direct your customers to secure sites that match your brand’s identity, security level and overall experience.
For example, if you were to scan a QR code inside the flagship store of a major athletic shoe brand and the webpage that opened up didn’t have that brand’s name in the URL, you would likely feel skeptical about whether that was a real QR code or if someone had gone rogue. You’d be less likely to feel comfortable transacting on that site, and your trust in that brand might even be degraded. But this doesn’t just apply to QR codes.
• When a customer walks by a retail store, they may enter a geofence that triggers a text message offering them a relevant promotional code that could steer them into your store.
• When a customer scans a QR code posted on the window of your restaurant, it should lead them to the menu they’re looking for.
As with any link, your marketing partners must have the ability to seamlessly integrate their tools into your customer journey. Anything less will show the seams of the experience and leave customers wondering what exactly they just clicked on.
4. How and where do they store your consumers’ data?
Any partner you work with will have some access to your customers’ data, and it’s important to understand where and how it will be stored, as well as what steps you’d need to take in order to access it.
Some partners will make it available to you in real time through an API integration or an online portal. Others will require notice before sending you a zipped file containing a .CSV with your customer information.
Depending on your goals and your customers’ requirements when it comes to data access and transparency, the latter option may not be the right one for you.
You don’t have to settle for less than the same level of commitment to security, and you shouldn’t. The next frontier of consumer security is located in the center of the digital experience. It’s made up of the interactions and transactions that we’ve all come to rely on for contact-free experiences.