How to Ensure Your Marketing Is Responsible

How to Ensure Your Marketing Is Responsible

When processing customer data for marketing purposes, small businesses need to implement responsible marketing practices and consider customer trust. Scott Logie of REaD Group explores.

By Scott Logie

There is a correlative relationship between trust and sharing data: the more a customer trusts a business the happier they will be to share their data. And as a business, the more you know about your customer (thanks to the better quality data you have about them), the more personalized your communications to them can be and the more successful these communications will be. 

In a recent report by Dun & Bradstreet, half of the 500 business leaders interviewed said their business wouldn’t survive without top quality data, while 78% highlighted the importance of data for the customer experience

Much of this trust can be attributed to transparency and companies being open and honest about how consumer data is being processed. Best practice should always be at the heart of how you process consumer data: you (or your data supplier) should be able to take any record from your suite and identify the point of collection as well as the legal basis on which it's being processed, thanks to the regulations that govern data protection and privacy in the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

Consent & Legitimate Interest in the GDPR

The GDPR sets out the key lawful bases for processing data for marketing purposes in Article 6. For marketing purposes, Consent and Legitimate Interest are the two most relevant. As a business, you need to assess what lawful basis can be used, which is the most appropriate when processing data for marketing processes, and how this might affect your marketing activities.   

There are a number of legal grounds you can use to justify processing an individual’s data under the GDPR. For direct marketing, Legitimate Interest is often the most appropriate basis to choose where you can demonstrate that there is a balance between the benefit to your business and the impact on the privacy of the individual of processing their data. Ask yourself – would they reasonably expect their data to be used in this way? Transparency is crucial when making these decisions. 

When it comes to Consent, the ICO (which upholds data privacy for individuals in the UK) says, “The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis.” 

This means that, in some cases, consent may not be required. However, one example of where it's required is in the use of electronic marketing (namely email). This is where GDPR and the Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) dovetail, meaning that email marketing requires consent and the requirements for consent are set out in the PECR. 

Data quality 

It's a requirement of the GDPR that data must be kept up-to-date and accurate and so data hygiene (i.e. the processes applied to keeping data clean and relatively error-free) is not only crucial for good marketing communications but it’s also a legal obligation. 

Keeping data clean needn’t be a cumbersome task. When building and consolidating your data warehouse, always remove duplicates and fill in incomplete fields. Find a central location to store data and standardize storage rules. There are fully-automated data cleaning solutions on the market, with a platform into which you upload your data. You can then run a check before launching a campaign to ensure your data is as clean as possible. 

Research shows that the higher the quality of data an organisation holds, the more efficient and effective an organisation is. No surprise then, that data quality is a top priority for 41% of UK data leaders. 

Quality data 

Quality data is the right marketing data that will help you engage, acquire and retain the best customers. As well as first party data – the data you have collected directly from your audience – don’t overlook the advantages and capabilities that third party data offers. Third party data can help you to find your best customers, drive more informed decisions, gain more value from your marketing activity and deliver ROI. 

Some 54% of the business leaders interviewed by Dun & Bradstreet said that third party data is valuable for enhancing the data that they hold in their organisation, while a similar proportion (56%) agreed that they would benefit from more of it. But again, trust is crucial: you can only trust the data you’ve got if you can maintain its quality and you can trust the supplier of the third party data. 

You should therefore always be sure to conduct thorough due diligence on a supplier before purchasing marketing data. You need to be able to trust the quality of the data, and when choosing a data provider, make sure you understand their data’s source and provenance, permissions, as well as their validation and due diligence processes. Permission must be accurately tracked and show evidence of the due diligence that was applied to it at the point of collection. Any credible data supplier should be able to demonstrate this level of transparency. 

Be ethical and be responsible 

For a truly responsible approach to marketing, building and maintaining trust and transparency with consumers is key. In reality, that means applying rigour and common sense in order to balance commercial interests with consumer rights and testing that decision to ensure it's the right approach. If you're able to demonstrate to your customers that you adhere to the principles of both data quality and quality data, then they will be reassured that their data will be looked after according to the data protection laws, and they in turn will trust you. 

About the Author

Scott Logie is Customer Engagement Director at REaD Group, a marketing data and insight company that uses its unrivalled data products, insight and expertise to helps its clients get closer to their customers, with market-leading data quality and cleaning solutions and trusted marketing data.