Why 2017 should be the year you get serious about data protection

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2016 has changed the world we live in. Between the Brexit vote and final confirmation of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) the last 12 months has posed some interesting challenges for the industry to address in the years to come.

With discussions around PECR now into full swing too marketers must start to look forward and ask themselves the difficult question: “Am I ready for the new world of data protection?”

Earlier last year, we conducted some research with Adestra into the use of personalisation and the data habits of digital marketers, titled ‘The State of Digital Personalisation in 2016’.

This highlighted the need for better understanding of the existing and new rules governing the data that is the lifeblood of any good personalisation strategy.

According to the report, three quarters (76.5%) of marketers are personalising emails using data that is collected via an opt-in method. However, nearly a quarter of marketers (23.5%) are using data that is collected via automatic methods, such as IP address tracking, where clear consent can be hard to obtain.

Unless marketers are clear on the customer consent they have for that data – for example: location, browsing history or family make-up – they will be in breach of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) when they come into force in May 2018.

Look after your data and consent

The benefits of using this sort of data are clear, with the majority of marketers agreeing that personalisation in email is widespread and has a direct impact on results.

In fact, 83% of those surveyed reported a rise in open rates, 75% saw more click-throughs and 50% reported a boost in both sales and customer satisfaction from emails that included personalisation.

Ultimately, the digital world we all now live and work in has potential customer touchpoints everywhere, whether online, on your mobile or in-person.

Each one of these touchpoints can create a piece of data that marketers can use to better understand their customer. However, unless businesses fully understand how to use this insight and the rules that govern it, they could not only upset the consumer but also be breaking the law.

Despite Brexit, the likelihood is that we will still be in Europe in May 2018 and will need to be ready for the GDPR. These regulations will significantly change the way all brands and marketers can collect, retain and use personal data from their customers. These changes are unavoidable and, more importantly, they are essential to building a sustainable future in this new world of data protection.

The only way forward for marketers is education and training in 2017 to understand how to successfully navigate this new data landscape.

The successful brands in the New Year will be the ones that are able to put customers at the heart of everything they do by being diligent with data, respecting privacy, being honest and fair, and taking responsibility for this data.

If you’re not sure how to deliver this to your customers, there is a host of advice available from organisations like the DMA, as well as online or face-to-face training specific to the GDPR from the IDM.