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Recent research conducted by IBM among global boardroom and C-suite executives in 28 countries found that better cybersecurity is among their top technology priorities. But while CMOs “are key drivers of digital-based growth for most organizations, many are not in the habit of working with the CIO, and are certainly not in the habit of working with the security department.” In fact, besides voicing a desire for a seamless customer experience, CMOs have been reluctant to get more involved with online customer identification and other cybersecurity decisions. Security experts have generally translated this wish into procedures that are as easy and invisible as possible for brand shoppers, while also delivering a degree of online security.

Ease continues to be important in today’s online retail world, but invisibility seems to be giving way to more-notable approaches to being secure. In fact, one of the keys to creating a successful online business in 2016 was to “show people your site is secure and trustworthy.”

As a result, marketers and their employers are missing a potentially powerful brand- and business-building opportunity: leveraging online security measures as a way to build trust with shoppers, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. Online security and customer intimacy go hand in hand. In fact, consumers say that they’re willing to invest the time and energy to adopt new payment technology for the promise of greater security, and two-thirds of e-commerce shoppers would modify their online behavior if it led to safer shopping experiences. Developing deeper knowledge of your organization’s consumers may be the best way for you to simultaneously secure their online touchpoints while providing a better customer experience.

To improve both online security and shopper interaction, brands need to employ a business-centric, holistic approach. It starts with letting consumers know that the brand is taking action. According to research by PSFK Lab in partnership with MasterCard, 95% of consumers expect their bank to have the latest technologies to keep their financial information safe and secure; 89% expect stores they shop at to stay up to date with the latest financial safety technologies; 88% trust that their payment network is arming them with new, secure technologies that protect them from fraud; and 83% are excited for the emergence of new technologies that will help secure and protect their financial information.

But the only way for consumers to know you have answered their call is by providing “cues” — i.e., clues or behaviors — that the advanced security procedures are in place (without making a claim or promise that fraudsters see as a challenge to be proven wrong). These cues can include:

A goal here, particularly with the final option, is to add enough friction into the process to stymie fraudsters, sending them off to pick on someone else, without making customers’ lives more difficult or stopping them from completing their transactions.

Additionally, given consumers’ increasing penchant for using multiple devices and making multiple visits, marketers need a broader approach to recognition, incorporating the various devices, behaviors, and ID personas — users’ digital DNA. For a start, Amazon, eBay, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and others have already incorporated two-factor out-of-band authentication, which uses a second item, such as voice or SMS, to confirm the user’s identity.

But with CMOs and CIOs working together, this could just be the beginning.

With the drive toward personalization, marketers have been in the business of identifying their consumers by more than just demographics, and have, for their own purposes, developed technologies to better identify individual consumer behaviors. And this customer intimacy can be leveraged to protect your customers. Knowledge of the consumer’s historical behavior, devices used, and places visited can provide an easier and more accurate way to verify the user’s identity. That’s important because better recognition can lead to a better experience, which can result in existing customers becoming more loyal and inspiring others to sign up for accounts.

Years ago, Amazon was a pioneer in e-commerce personalization by offering automated recommendations based on search history and preferences. Fast forward to 2016, and one can see Amazon using programs that were initially designed for marketing purposes to enhance security. 1-Click and Amazon Prime are two examples. While originally developed to enhance the user experience, 1-Click transactions have fraud rates that are a fraction of those for purchases not made with 1-Click.

USAA Bank is looking to remove passwords entirely for its best customers. In order to do this, USAA has deployed many technologies and approaches which help it better understand its customers. Some of these features, such as facial biometrics, are visible to the user. Others are capabilities that operate in the background, providing additional information to USAA with each user interaction to help it understand which behaviors look normal.

A 100% secure system may be an unattainable holy grail — just when you think you’ve closed the gaps in your security system, some new scheme comes along. But the real holy grail is the ability to verify an identity without adversely affecting experience. It’s time to recast the conversation about cybersecurity so that marketers can help craft a response in conjunction with their customer intimacy programs. The increased sales and potentially decreased security liabilities will be good for your business, your brand, and your profits.

For more information on being #CyberStrong, CLICK HERE.

(Source: Dr. James Lucas, Laurence Minsky, Ben DiSanti, Harvard Business Review)