How to Create a Privacy Policy: 7 Steps to Success

Nicole Georgiev
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    Do you have a website? What about an app or an eCommerce store? If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s likely you’ll need to understand the privacy policy definition. Writing your own privacy policy for your website or app can be challenging. If you want to make sure that your policy is good enough, you’ll have to get acquainted with the privacy laws. A detailed, transparent, and easy-to-understand document is essential for your niche market

    This blog will guide you through the process of how to create a privacy policy on your own. We will touch base on what a privacy policy is, cover what it should include, and how to write one for your website. If you're wondering what the eCommerce definition of a privacy policy is, keep reading. You can also use a sample privacy policy for your website.

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    What Is a Privacy Policy?

    Privacy policies explain how websites and businesses collect, protect, store, and utilize personal information from their users. There are different privacy policies out there and each country has different laws regarding privacy that companies must follow.

    The personal information that companies collect from websites and apps can vary, but some can include: 

    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • IP addresses
    • Mailing addresses
    • Email addresses
    • Payment details

    Privacy policies are one eCommerce marketing strategy and yours should outline the ways your company will use the information you collect. Aside from this, it should also include how you'll follow all legal obligations.

    What Does a Privacy Policy Include?

    Privacy policies can vary based on the industry, business, location of your customers, and more. Here are some of the elements that they contain:

    • Opt-out: This is the option to opt-out of any data collection
    • Usage: Explains how the company plans to use the information they collect
    • Company Information: The company’s contact information if customers want more information about the policies in place
    • Customer Data: A list of the type of information that is collected and how
    • Tracking: How the company uses tools such as log files, cookies, and more
    • Storage and Protection: A description of how the information is stored and protected from hackers

    Privacy policies can differ based on the company. You can include the following elements in your document when you're learning how to create a privacy policy:

    • Third-party Access: A description of any third-party services that will have access to the customers’ data
    • Public Data: How you will control and share public data
    • Transfers: Information regarding how your company will share personal information and data with other businesses
    • Changing or Removing: How you can modify or delete any customer data
    • Marketing: Informing customers of whether you’ll use their email addresses to send your company’s marketing information, such as abandoned cart email marketing
    • Questions: Answers to frequently asked questions about data collection and usage
    • Changes: Offer updates to the privacy policy

    The elements listed above typically abide by the United States regulations for privacy policies. If your customers are located in other parts of the world, like the European Union, the elements can vary. The EU has different privacy laws and so does every country. Keep that in mind when you create a privacy policy of your own.

    Five Fundamental Aspects of a Privacy Policy

    Most privacy policies should include five fundamental aspects. These include choice, notice, security, access, and enforcement. Below is a brief explanation of each one. 

    • Choice: Consumers should be able to decide if they want companies to collect and use their personal information. Your policy should have an option to opt-out of cookies, set custom cookie preferences, and decline newsletter subscriptions.
    • Notice: Every consumer should know about the company's data collection when they visit a website or app.
    • Security: Companies that collect personal data from consumers should protect it. They should have a process that is used to delete old data and also protect current data. Companies should disclose all security measures that they follow within the privacy policy.
    • Access: Consumers should have access to their own data. The privacy policy should disclose how much of the information companies can access and modify. 
    • Enforcement: This section will implement principles in your policy. Companies should explain how they’ll adhere to the enforcement as well as how they'll address and fix violations to the clauses.

    These fundamental aspects of the privacy notice should be customized by the business owner based on the way each company will proceed.

    How to Create a Privacy Policy 

    Businesses should have their own unique privacy policy. You can consider having a lawyer draft up a policy so that it's both outstanding and binding. This is a pricier option, but you'll have a policy that is specific to your needs. It can also offer your company the most protection. 

    When starting an eCommerce business, creating a privacy policy should be part of your eCommerce business plan. It's also beneficial to think about privacy policies when opening a business, even if it's a brick and mortar. This includes when you're opening a restaurant (see Restaurant Business Plan), opening a coffee shop, opening a bakery, opening a ghost kitchen, opening a food truck, or opening a grocery store.

    You can rely on free online generators to create a policy for you. This is one that you can copy and paste onto your website then add or change anything as desired. Some commonly used generators for privacy policies include TermsFeed and Privacy Policy Generator. With these tools, you’ll have the ability to add sections for your business, include prompts with the language your business requires, and more. 

    You can also consider writing a privacy statement with the help of a privacy policy template or sample. This gives you the most control over your company’s policy. Most templates act as a guide and have the information that you should include in your statement. You can also add sections that are unique to your business. 

    Another way to write a privacy policy is to do so from scratch. You can explore this in detail in the next section of this blog.

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    How to Create a Privacy Policy for Website

    While it’s the most cost-effective option, writing your privacy policies from scratch can be a bit confusing. However, the information you find below can definitely help. These are the topics that you should focus on covering in the privacy policy that you write for your website.

    1. What Kind of Data You Collect and Its Uses

    It’s important for consumers to know the kind of data you’ll collect from them. This can include IP addresses, email addresses for eCommerce email marketing, names, ages, credit card information for one-time and recurring payments, and more. The key here is to be as specific as possible in order to avoid any kind of confusion. 

    Aside from this, tell consumers why you’re collecting that information. You might use it to recommend new products that you think will appeal to them in the future. It can also be useful to collect that information in order to tailor promotions to a specific audience or niche. Be transparent and detailed so that there is no confusion. 

    2. Method of Data Collection

    In some cases, websites will have obvious data collection, like credit card information when consumers checkout. However, your privacy policy should include the methods of data collection. Disclose the uses of opt-ins, checkout pages, online forms, and more. Include information about the data that you collect on the back end such as IP addresses. 

    3. Connection Clause

    Sometimes, websites will collect information in order to communicate with their customers. If this is your goal, then you’ll need to include a connection clause. In privacy policies, this section informs users know how you’ll communicate with them and why you’re planning to do so. 

    Let consumers know that you’ll provide them updates on their transactions through SMS, Facebook Messenger, and email. You might want to send them a text message regarding upcoming sales or send email newsletters. You should highlight all of these in your policy. 

    There should also be an option for consumers to opt out of having their information collected. Your policy should state how they can do that by giving them a link or other vital information that they’ll need. 

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    4. Security Information

    When it comes to financial information, most people find it to be a sensitive topic. You should include details regarding encryption and implemented security measures that protect this kind of information. This will give people peace of mind that their financial information like bank accounts, credit cards, and home addresses are safe.

    Customers will also feel safe paying through the credit card payment gateway on your site. Your payment platform should be PCI compliant. This ensures that anyone paying through an ACH payment, eCheck, or another eCommerce payment gateway are secure.

    Give your consumers a list of their rights and how they can exercise them. A redress policy can provide you with a chance to make things right if your consumers feel that you’ve violated their privacy. This also shows that you respect their privacy and stick to your policy. Let consumers know that they can also submit privacy violation reports to the U.S. Government. 

    5. Child Privacy

    There is a privacy protection act in the US that enforces child privacy on websites. It's called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It's a law that requires companies to have specific protocols in order to collect private data from minors. 

    Regardless of whether your business is catered to adults, you must still include a clause that addresses child privacy. If you have a website that targets children under 13 years of age, you’ll need to have a detailed Children’s Privacy Policy. 

    6. Potential Future Changes

    Many businesses grow and change over time. Due to this, so do most privacy policies. Your policy should include a section that describes your right to adjust or change the policy at any time. Your consumers should also have a right to know about revisions, and you can include that within this section. Inform your consumers that you’ll notify them of changes to your policies when they occur and how. 

    7. Contact Information

    It's common for privacy policies to include company contact information. It allows consumers to contact you if necessary.

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    That's Private Information

    Privacy policies are necessary by law for websites that collect personal data from visitors. It’s also good business practice to have. A company's privacy policy have as much detail as possible and be transparent. It should cover information about why and how you collect the data. This is how you'll show your consumers that you care about their privacy.

    The policies can establish trust between you and your consumers. Customize them based on the kind of company you have and more. The guide above can help you draft up a policy of your own. Include the necessary elements and be sure that your policy is complete. Whether it's on the about us page or as a separate page, it's essential to include one.

    You can choose to create a privacy policy from scratch, generate a free privacy policy online, or ask a lawyer to draft one up. Consult with an attorney to ensure that your policy has maximum legality. 

    Frequently Asked Questions About How to Create a Privacy Policy

    How Do I Create a Privacy Policy?

    When creating your privacy policy, you should be direct, clear, and use easy-to-understand language. Avoiding legal terminology and technical jargon as much as possible is ideal. You must inform users if you plan to modify the way you use the personal information that you collect. 

    Can I Write My Own Privacy Policy?

    Yes, you can write your own privacy policy. You don’t need to have a lawyer write your privacy policy and there are countless resources that you can refer to in order to properly write one yourself. 

    What Aspects Should Be Included in My Privacy Policy?

    The aspects that you should include in your privacy policy are:

    • The kind of data you collect
    • Method of data collection
    • Connection clause
    • Security information
    • Child privacy
    • Potential future changes
    • Contact information
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