The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been a game-changer for digital marketers. It came into effect at the end of May 2018. The regulation completely changed the way companies use data to target consumers online.
For many marketers, these changes have resulted in an implementation headache. But when you look at GDPR from a higher perspective, it actually presents an opportunity to improve their digital marketing practices.
If you’re looking to implement or adjust your digital marketing strategy, here are some key points to keep in mind:
1. Conduct An Online Data Inventory
An online data inventory is the process of reviewing all the data that a company has collected over time and determining whether it’s legally protected or not. There are several ways to do this:
- Start by identifying your database’s information about customers and prospects. This includes their names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and anything else used to identify them—the more specific, the better.
- Then break down how each piece of information was obtained (for example, ‘the first name from the customer profile’), so you can determine whether it falls under GDPR protection or not.
- If it does fall under GDPR protection, then consider whether there are legitimate reasons why that person would need access to this information. For example, if they’re a team member who needs their paycheck emailed to them.
- If there aren’t any legitimate reasons, then consider deleting that portion of the database altogether. However, be sure not to delete something unless absolutely necessary, because doing so could put your business at risk if there’s legal trouble later.
Once completed with both steps above, then conduct regular audits on an ongoing basis. This applies whenever new hires come on board or new clients enter into agreements with your company.
In addition, you want to make sure that you use your own audience data and not second or third-party data most of the time in your marketing campaigns. That way, you’re very clear on issues of consent and the legality of any communication between you and your audience.
2. Work With An Attorney To Review Privacy Policies
Privacy policies are legally binding and are required by law. Always make sure your company’s privacy policies are up to date. Also, ensure you’re in line with the new European Union data privacy laws by consulting an attorney who has experience reviewing legal documents.
It’s important to remember that these documents shouldn’t only be written clearly but also understood by both consumers and employees alike. And this means making sure they’re written in plain language (not legalese).
Significantly, an attorney could review your company’s existing privacy practices and make recommendations for improvement based on their interpretation of GDPR requirements. However, it’s still important for someone on staff who understands both technology and the law to actually review the final product before sharing it publicly on behalf of your brand.
3. Analyze And Update Opt-In Consent Notices
For your company to use a person’s personal data, you need their consent and must provide them with a clear and easy-to-understand opt-in notice. The GDPR includes a comprehensive set of rules for writing these notices.
A good way to think about what makes an effective opt-in notice is that it gives the user all the information they need in order to make an informed decision. And this includes whether or not they want the product or service being offered.
4. Review The Privacy Features Of Your Applications, Automated Messages, And Newsletters
Privacy laws are evolving, and so is the way companies collect and use customers’ data. If you have a website or other online presence, make sure that you have updated privacy policies that meet international standards for transparency and consent.
Also, it would be best to review the factors below:
- The way your automated messages are sent (for example, by email or text)
- The recipients they’re sent to (including non-consenting users)
- The type of content they contain
- The type of audiences they target
- Any geographical location restrictions on their distribution
On the other hand, check if there’s an age limit for consenting to receive marketing materials via electronic means such as social media platforms or apps.
5. Strengthen Security Measures Related To Consumer Data
In response to the data privacy laws, it’s important that marketing teams strengthen their security measures related to consumer data and ensure that their corporate data is safe. This can be done by taking the following steps:
- Use multi-factor authentication when logging into your website or app.
- Use encryption when storing or transmitting sensitive consumer information.
- Use firewalls on your network, email service provider, and website hosting provider (if applicable).
- Host your website in a secure cloud environment or on a secure email service such as Google Apps for Work or Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials (not Gmail).
- Ensure that all mobile devices and apps are encrypted with SSL/TLS certificates from major certificate authorities.
6. Create A Culture Of Data Privacy Compliance In Your Organization
As you may have heard, data privacy laws are changing and becoming more complicated for companies to navigate. Data privacy has also become a growing concern for corporate marketers. It forces them to be cautious with regard to the personal information of their customers.
Data privacy is everyone’s responsibility since it affects everyone in the organization. So how can marketers ensure they’re meeting their obligations while still helping execute marketing strategies?
Here are some tips:
- Train employees on best practices around handling customer data and communicating with customers about how their personal information will be used by sending out emails or posting on social media;
- Communicate regularly with employees so they know what actions they can take (and what not to do) when working with customer profiles;
- Keep records of how much access employees have to customer profiles, so there’s complete transparency among staff members;
- And make sure your employees understand there are consequences if they fail to comply with legal regulations regarding consumer data protection (e.g., fines).
Corporate marketers can adapt to data privacy laws starting today. This can be done by conducting an online data inventory, strengthening security measures related to consumer data, ensuring that third parties are compliant, and more.