marketingmoves recently attended the CIM event on Data Protection hosted by Stevens and Bolton LLP. Here are some of our thoughts post talk…
Customer data is crucial to the modern marketer. Today, digital marketing tools make it possible to track and profile customers, with each digital interaction generating a wealth of context, location, browsing and behavioural data. This allows marketers to more accurately target and personalise marketing campaigns, winning over, engaging and retaining customers like never before. Exciting innovations, such as cloud computing, automation, programmatic, and the internet of things are even more reliant on personal data and we are already realising their enormous potential, despite perceived security and privacy risks.
The Data Protection Act 1998 is widely acknowledged to be incredibly out of step with the technological developments of the last decade and the dramatic increases in the scale of data sharing and collection. As such, businesses have been used to a relatively ‘light touch’ regime, and many have taken advantage of this. Consent to marketing communications is already a requirement, but is not explicitly defined in the DPA. Many rely on ‘soft opt-ins’ or try their luck, with the relatively low level of sanctions.
In a few years, this might be a thing of the past. For many, the proposed tougher sanctions and stricter rules of the new draft EU Data Protection legislation, likely to come into effect in 2017, will seem a dampener on this digital data revolution.
Under the new reform, the legal definition of personal data would be broadened to all that can identify an individual, including IP addresses, cookie identifiers and other information which may indicate the location of the individual. Consent may need to be explicitly given, rather than implied. This could be an increased administrative burden for businesses, who would need to provide details of their data processing activity and the period of data for which the data will be stored.
In today’s complex and data rich landscape, seeking and obtaining the ‘explicit consent’ of each consumer, might prove to be a difficult task, and data once gained would become unusable after a relatively short time. However with more strictly enforced legislation, it is unlikely to be a risk worth taking. Companies whose marketing activity falls on the wrong side of the law will pay a much heavier price. The risk is financial, not just reputational, with a potential fine rising to 5% of global turnover or 100 million euros, whichever is greater. This is a MASSIVE increase compared to the £500,000 maximum penalty in the UK at the moment.
The risks can’t be ignored. What can you do now to prepare your organisation to be on the right side of the law?
- Keep your data up-to-date and only keep what you actually need.
- Check you have the right opt-ins in place for your email and SMS campaigns and be clear about who you are, what you will contact people about in future and who you will share information with.
- Make sure your mailing lists include an easy-to-find opt-out and deal with requests promptly.
- Check your company’s privacy policies and documentation – these will all need to be (re)written in plain English. To fulfill the new rights to be forgotten, to erasure and to data portability’, your company will need a well-defined strategy for data classification, retention, collection, destruction, storage and search. CRM systems may need an update, to include the storage of consent forms, as evidence for regulators.
- Appoint someone to take ownership of your moves towards compliance. They will need to check your permissions are up to the new standards and provide guidelines to staff members on what is and isn’t allowed with regard to consumer data. If it seems too confusing, seek assistance. Many advisers on GDPR compliance are likely to emerge in the next few years, make sure you find one with the right credentials.
- Get back in touch with customers to renew their consent (if necessary). This will be time-consuming but is an opportunity to remind customers of who you are and what new solutions you offer and to find out more about them: their real buying potential, their purchasing triggers & c.
- Incentivise potential customers to share information with you, make it a good exchange – always give something meaningful back!
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