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What Marketers Need to Consider When It Comes to Protecting Customer Data

April 26, 2018 No Comments

Featured article by Matthew Walker Jones, Independent Technology Author

The amount of integrated information, marketers would get about their customers, three or two decades ago, is tremendously different to the granularity they can achieve now with customer data platform, machine learning, and third-party apps. In the course of digitalization, data is being generated, stored, processed and analyzed on a scale that wasn’t possible before, and we are all part of it. On the surface, these tiny bits of information seem trivial, but once aggregated can create powerful insights, giving marketers a chance for the first time, not only to understand the past behaviour but also to influence the future.

Although the improvements are not bereft of concerns ( such as privacy) research proves that consumers are largely in favour of targeted marketing, that delivers content relevant to their needs, rather than the old-fashioned, and impersonal tactics we all know too well.

But in the wake of GDPR, and recent data-scandalsthat attracted a lot of media attention, there is a need for marketers who among many things, analyse large customer data to take a break, and ask themselves a really important question – do I comply with the new regulations? Is my customer data secure? Below we include a manual that will help you to answer these, not always easy, questions such as How not to breach data privacy laws using direct marketing techniques?

Process Data Fairly and Lawfully

It’s not a silver bullet rule, but a very important one, from which stems many other, smaller data privacy regulations. In the light of GDPR, processing data fairly and lawfully will mean being transparent about the use of data with the data subjects that use your services and buy your products. This should include ( but not be limited to), providing a privacy notice, written in an unambiguous language, explaining to individuals everything they need to know to safely use your websites, and apps.

Consider encryption and anonymisation

Large-scale analytics involving huge volumes of data is a blessing for every marketing company, however, if you decide to trade with personal, sensitive data, your organisation need to make sure compulsory anonymization and encryption methods are in place. Otherwise, you are risking hurting your business reputation when things go out of hand. Irrevocably.

Consent vs. legitimate interest

In the case of direct marketing, consent has slightly tighter definition, than in other context, thus it is important to differentiate between legitimate interest of your customers for the time being, and their consensual agreement for data processing. Apart from being freely given, specific, and informed, consent in the case of direct marketing can only last under the stated circumstances (sometimes only a short period of time or cover a specific type of communication).

Consent and Third Parties

If there are any third parties involved in the transmission of data, marketers need to specifically ask their customers for a permission to get their data flowing between various databases. They are also obliged under data protection regulations to name those companies. In 2016, Verso Group (UK) Limited, delivering sales leads firm, was fined with 80,000 £ for supplying a gambling company with 2 million data belonging to customer records, gathered from services or websites unrelated to the company. By paying attention to avoid the so-called” consent, you treat your customers fairly and avoid risking huge fines.

Delete any irrelevant or excessive information  

During the first hearing at Congress, Mark Zuckerberg was asked for how long his company stores logs of users’ data once they decide to abandon his platform. The answer he gave, wasn’t entirely clear, but it might have suggested a period of time that could span from a week to eternity. Luckily, marketers, if challenged with a similar question, will have to provide more straightforward answer. If their customers decide they don’t want to be a part of data processing, their information must be erased immediately, with the only trace of them in companies’ databases being, their very permission to unsubscribe from marketing.

Respect the Right to Opt – Out

The way big data can be used not only to improve lives of marketers but in general to ease and enrich our lives as customers are stunning. However, not all of us want to be a part of the digital transition, which is a choice that should be respected, especially by the data-driven companies. Above all, personal data is just that – personal, and we need to learn how to better protect it to sustain the trust we have when engaging with browsing activities. Thus, marketers need to allow their data subjects to opt-out from receive marketing at any time. Opting – out choice should be made and communicated in a clear way.

About the Author

Matthew Walker Jones is a freelance writer specializing in content covering topics including data driven marketing, online data protection and cyber security. With a passion for all things data, Matthew is constantly staying up to date with the latest news on data information.


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