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Building Better Data Management Practices Against Consumer Privacy Concerns

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In the age of Brexit, GDPR and Cambridge Analytica scandals, CMOs are finding it harder to navigate effective data management, especially as consumer privacy concerns continue to grow. In fact, some CMOs say their businesses are losing millions of dollars every year due to poor data handling skills, a new survey revealed.

Silverbullet’s new report Whose data is it anyway? How UK marketers navigate data management as consumer privacy concerns grow, surveyed 100 UK CMOs and a wealth of consumers to uncover the ongoing concerns with brands who use data to provide a service. 

It found half of UK CMOs estimate poor data handling skills are costing their business between £250,000 ($USD300,000) and £5 million ($USD6.4m) every year. Meanwhile, 74% of people surveyed said they were concerned about the privacy of their personal information compared to this time 2 years ago. 

Read more: It’s Time for Brands to Be Good Guys in the Consumer Data Privacy Relationship

Global Shifts in the Data Privacy Legal and Regulatory Landscape

There’s now increased legal and regulatory change emerging around the world to address these growing privacy concerns, which we recently discussed extensively during Data Privacy Day this year. The GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation act] is now firmly in force and applicable to any company selling to any European consumers – whether they are within Europe or not. 

Meanwhile, various jurisdictions in the United States have now been creating their own legislation with some variation on these themes. Australia has also followed suit with new privacy legislation being proposed, upping fines to $10 million or three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information or 10 percent of a company’s annual domestic turnover.

But while the legislation is implemented differently across the various regions, it all boils down to some pretty simple principles that give the right for consumers to own and use their own data in whatever way they see fit. 

This is the situation where a brand or business must seek explicit and specific consent to use an individual’s data, and that permission should be gained in a way that represents a genuine and meaningful choice on behalf of the consumer. At the same time, that permission should be specific to the agreed use of that data, and cannot be used for other things outside the agreed scope.

Generally speaking, this means the consumer then has a right to be able to access any data a controller has on them, ask for it to be deleted, or ask for it to be corrected. 

Data Management in a Reactive Environment

Only 27% believe that CMO’s are ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with customer data privacy, our survey reveals, so there seems to be a long way to go to bridge that gap from where we are now, to where we need to be. So what can CMOs do to ensure they comply with these legislative requirements, while at the same time, optimizing Marketing outcomes? 

Many CMO’s work within a very reactive environment. While in some instances this is unavoidable, from a data management perspective, this can lead to short-term band-aid measures for data management that puts the organization in serious risk. The evolving legislative environment around consumer privacy is creating the need for a far more structured and capable approach.

What this means is that CMOs need to ensure that they have a robust but flexible consent management approach or platform to centralize how they are recording and capturing consumer consent. Getting by with an excel spreadsheet on their desktop is no longer enough.

From a privacy perspective, the solution CMOs choose should be able to report with full transparency, all permissions that are given by consumers. In addition, the approach also needs to be flexible enough to allow those consumers to access, edit, or delete any permissions that relate to any information the brand or business has on them from click data through to personally identifiable information and user profiles.

At a wider organizational level, CMOs also need to manage data within tighter legal parameters, while being agile and responsive enough to meet changing business outcomes. In order to achieve this, CMOs and CTOs need to work together and instill a culture of good data management and practices within their organizations to create a safe environment for better data handling within the wider business.

Regular data audits also play a critical part in this wider organizational approach. One mistake we often see marketers make is zombie tags on websites. If left unchecked tags can build up over time. This can be extremely problematic, as it leads to data leakage (such as to a partner used in the past) and in the most extreme cases we’ve seen can also lead to slower page load times thus also degrading customer experience.

In order to combat this problem, CMO’s should do an audit of their data management practices, including auditing the tags on their website and mobile platforms – to dig deep and really understand where all that data is going. If anything is there that can’t be pinned down to a critical business case, get rid of it.

It’s also important to do a regular audit of the data you are sending other organizations via other channels, to understand how they are using that data. This curbs the risk that a marketers’ media or digital agency has data residing within their systems that could be leaked through a breach outside your control, or contravenes the consent obtained from the consumer base. 

Read more: Data Privacy as the New User Experience

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