With the growing trend of marketing automation, the need for customer data collection for companies has also increased. Marketers collect customer data to get insights into their buying behavior and track their buying patterns. They can perform better marketing automation by designing customized campaigns and targeting focused groups.
The implications for marketers
The debate over privacy and data protection is gaining more momentum than ever. Privacy advocates all around the globe are running campaigns and workshops to educate users about the importance of their privacy and how they can protect their data.
Now that customers are getting informed about privacy, collecting data is becoming a bit challenging for marketing firms. The lack of data would put marketing firms struggling because the marketing automation process relies solely on it. Carrying out campaigns for eCommerce businesses and managing lead generations can only be done if customer data is gathered in volumes.
However, companies carrying out marketing automation should be cautious in handling customer data and should take necessary measures to protect this data. Especially when frameworks like GDPR and numerous other data privacy regulations are in effect, companies will have to be very vigilant about how they collect, use, and protect data.
Compliance with data regulation frameworks like GDPR and CCPA means that companies have to carry out email opt-ins and send notifications to customers. It also means that the companies will have to keep a thorough check of the flow of customer data collection, its use in marketing automation, and its sharing with other organizations with that the company interacts.
The implications for PR agencies
A great responsibility lies on the PR agencies when it comes to customer data usage. PR agencies have to plan their campaigns and editorials by keeping in view the target audience and public subsets.
PR agencies can use marketing automation tools to get better engagement and better reach among the public. However, the data that they use in doing so or they collect during the campaign, has to be secured at every level.
Customer privacy should be kept intact and there should be no illegitimate use of their data or any sort of harassment. Strong regulatory policy should be made and all privacy regulations frameworks should be kept in focus while collecting and sharing that data forward.
What data is being collected?
People are more eager to share certain types of data than others. Generally, people are more comfortable sharing their gender, age, zip code, and email addresses than their phone number, location, or online browsing activity.
Marketers will have to take customers’ behavior into account and devise tools, approaches, and strategies accordingly. The less amount of data they collect, the lesser they’ll be liable, and also, they’ll not face issues in being compliant with the data regulations.
What will it be used for?
If data consumption is being communicated with the customers, it may clear their perceptions and increase their willingness to share data. People like to know why their data is being collected and how it will be used. No one wants their data to be sold from company to companies just so that companies can use them for marketing their products blatantly.
However, suppose the companies take customers in confidence and assure them that their data will be used for planning product innovation or better-customized advertisements. In that case, the customers might be willing to share their data.
The lack of communication between the companies and customers has created this lack of trust. Customers stay in the dark as they have no idea how their data is being used, and it creates a perception of mistrust. Dealing with this mistrust is not a big problem, as companies can quickly clear customers’ perceptions by being transparent in the use of their data.
How is the data collected?
Companies collect data through various channels like email lists, shopping carts, sign-ups, etc., and they don’t usually face any problems in doing so. However, the appalling thing is that many people are willing to share their data with companies for some incentive. This has eased the data collection for companies as they can easily appeal masses to provide the data in exchange for discounts and free samples.
Nevertheless, marketers should be careful about the extent to which this exchange between them and the customer happens. Also, the customers need to be careful, as there can be many sham companies that can offer substantial discount vouchers and collect essential data in return.
Maintaining the correct balance between technology and privacy can seem tricky, but it isn’t. By following specific approaches, marketing automation can be balanced with customer privacy, and this technology can be deemed compliant with data regulations.
Transparency and brand management
Customers have the right to know how companies are using their data. If the companies expect customers to trust them and provide them with data and, in doing so, stay loyal to them, then transparency should be practiced.
Marketing firms should adhere to different data regulation frameworks like the GDPR and CCPA. Also, they should keep the customers informed about how they are using their data and ensure that no breaches have occurred.
Not only that but customers should also be communicated about how the collection and usage of their data will be beneficial for them. Companies will have to be consistent in this communication, and it should be done through every touchpoint.
Companies collecting data for marketing automation have a huge responsibility because the data they are using is of the customers and a form of liability. To maintain compliance with data privacy regulations, firms should update and enhance their data infrastructure and technologies.
Marketing firms should implement strong data protection and safety protocols. Carrying out timely DNS leak tests is also a way of ensuring that the data over the network is secure. Also, firms should have secured networks to make sure that their traffic is encrypted and safe from breaches.
Firms should carry out first-party data collection, and the reliance on third-party channels should be reduced significantly.
Access to customer data should be given to internal teams only, and even for that, certain protocols should be defined. Limited access to data should be provided, and protocols should be cataloged.
Data-centricity with a privacy-first approach
Internal teams should be given trained about the importance of data privacy and how it should be administered. Cross-functional privacy teams should be made in every firm, and they should be responsible for maintaining data privacy and carrying out communications with the customers.
A centralized data storage and access model should be introduced, and the position and need for access should govern access to data. The cross-functional teams should include people from legal, compliance, privacy, vendor, tech, and marketing teams. It should be their responsibility to decide what data will be shared, how it will be used, and how it will be stored.
The critical things discussed above can provide a balanced way for marketers and firms to maintain a healthy environment for marketing automation by keeping privacy intact. Modern technology has paved the way for businesses to devise innovative approaches for their growth. But, it is the responsibility of the companies to use technology in a manner that does not subject to data breaches, and that does not create mistrust among customers.