You gave WHO my email address?

surprised girl

In the past few days I have received many emails – all from different corporations, all with the same message. These are not small corporations – Marriott, Walgreens, Chase, Hilton, Best Buy, J Crew, Flowers.com, and Verizon to name a few – and they range across a variety of industries.  But, the message is the same. They are writing to inform their customers that Epsilon, a marketing vendor used to manage customer email lists, had a security breach that let an unauthorized third party gain access to these email lists. Yikes! With the number of emails me and my colleagues received, we are left wondering – who DIDN’T use Epsilon for email marketing? And after we are done getting all the messages about the breach, is there going to be an outbreak of spam and phishing to follow?

Before considering the impact that this has on me (an online consumer) and the clients that I work with on a daily basis, I looked at the data to see if this relatively unknown (to the general consumer) company was getting some mindshare in light of this breach. As more and more emails are being sent out, consumers are, in fact, going to see who was responsible. Compete’s Daily Reach Metric looks at how many people visit a website as a percentage of all US Internet users online. The breach was first noticed on March 31st and April 3rd was the first day that I received one of these many notification emails. By the 3rd, Daily Reach was already up 67%. More emails were sent as the week went on, so I do expect this number to increase when Compete releases more recent data. This is probably not the reason you want people visiting your site.

daily reach epsilon

Now, as I take off my consumer hat and put on my marketing hat…one of the main things that I work on daily, weekly, and quarterly with my clients is trying to answer questions like: How do I get more traffic to my site? How do I get my customers to login and manage their account online? How do we make the most out of the online channel? And when people aren’t visiting or buying online, we want to understand why.

And the good news is that lately, the answer has not been related to security reasons. Compete recently did some research analysis to understand how consumers shop for wireless phones. And in this study, we asked offline purchasers (e.g. those that purchased a wireless phone in a wireless retail store, a big box retail store, over the phone) why they chose not to buy online. And, only 6% of these offline purchasers sited “I am concerned about providing personal information online” as a reason to buy offline. This is a hurdle that many brands and advertisers have been able to overcome. They have moved on to different challenges – such as someone wanting a product immediately or wanting to touch and feel it before purchasing.

But a few more episodes like this one, and we may have some consumers thinking twice about providing their information online.

What are your thoughts? Does this make you less likely to want to share your information online?