January 28 is celebrated as Data Privacy Day to raise awareness about the importance of data privacy and security. Here are five practices to help you safeguard customer data and build customer trust and loyalty.

Salesforce Research surveyed 6700+ consumers and business buyers for their second edition of the “State of the Connected Customer” report. The survey reported the following alarming findings:

  1. 59% think that their personal information is vulnerable to a security breach
  2. 62% feel uncomfortable with how companies use their personal/business information
  3. 45% are unsure about how companies use their data

The increasing cybercrime and data breach cases along with unscrupulous data practices have jeopardized valuable customer information and started to erode customer trust and loyalty. Organizations have the responsibility of protecting customer data that they’ve collected. To win back consumer trust, organizations need to implement stronger customer data protection practices and policies and revise them periodically.

"Compliance with regulations is the first step; data owners should follow a clear, transparent process when handling consumer data. Furthermore, this data must be stored securely; encryption techniques can be used to achieve this. The use of first-party data is also recommended – in place of third-party data acquired from unreliable vendors – as it can help to deliver a more personalised experience to customers. Lastly is mutual responsibility; users should clearly understand what they are consenting to when inputting any preferences." — Nikolas Rekeda, CMO at MGID, exclusively to MarTech Advisor

Since 2007, January 28 is celebrated as Data Privacy Day (also known as Data Protection Day in Europe) to cultivate awareness about safeguarding data and introducing data protection best practices.

On Data Privacy Day, let’s look at five customer data protection practices to help you build customer trust and loyalty.

1. Promote a Culture of Data Privacy

Any change with a lasting impact needs to be introduced using the top-down approach. You need to get executive buy-in so that it becomes relatively easy to implement it across the organization.

When C-level executives are on board with the change, it will be easier to invest in better resources, tools, training programs, and software applications to implement better data privacy practices. Organizations should also consider investing in a chief privacy officer (CPO) or data protection officer (DPO) who would be adept in spearheading data privacy initiatives to ensure the sustainability of the data privacy culture.

Organizations should train employees (on-premise and remote, both) who manage customer data on handling critical customer data. An introductory session during the employee onboarding program should explain the guidelines and policies for device usage, remote access, etc. Also, making it mandatory for employees to use a password management tool will encrypt passwords and make them less susceptible to security vulnerabilities.

2. Follow Data Protection Laws

Regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) define how organizations should collect and store customer data, among other data management practices. For instance, hiring a DPO is mandatory under GDPR compliance. Not adhering to these data privacy laws can incur hefty fines, along with the imminent PR disaster that would deteriorate consumer trust.

3. Collect Only Essential Data Points

The more information you collect from your customers, the more your database will be on the radar of hackers. Therefore, it is recommended to collect customer data that is absolutely essential.

While providing contextual and personalized experience is becoming the norm, collecting too many data points also gives rise to suspicion in customers’ minds. Speaking from the funnel marketing perspective, it helps to take into account the stage of the buyer’s journey to determine the number of information points you would need. For instance, you don’t need an elaborate sign-up form for a gated content targeted for the top-of-the-funnel audience.

4. Cultivate Transparency

Due to data theft issues, customers are growing skeptical of how organizations use their data. To build trust, be transparent with how you collect and manage customer data. Be clear in your terms of service document regarding your data management practices.

Be sure to update your customers as and when you introduce changes in your data management practices and allow them to opt-out of it whenever they want.

5. Have a Disaster Control Plan in Place

Despite taking active measures to secure customer data, threats of data loss could still prevail. Be sure to backup customer data regularly and evaluate data retrieval options. Also, implement strict data access rules to ensure that only the right people have access to the right data.

Bottom line

Andrew Morsy, Managing Director International at Peer39, shared his thoughts for marketers, "Adapting to the ever-changing privacy and digital landscape - especially in light of both the changes to browser policies and the public’s growing attention to personal data use - means marketers are going to have to revisit their strategies of how they’re using ad targeting data. As a result, marketers will need to broaden their lens for alternative globally compliant solutions to help sharpen their understanding of the advertising environment, which can provide the required scale and granularity for performance."

Richard Foster, CRO, InfoSum, exclusively shared his thoughts about the future, “Google added momentum to the move away from antiquated tracking methods, with their recent announcement that they will phase out support for third-party cookies by 2022. As a result, marketers must look to their first-party data and build data-driven marketing strategies that put privacy first.”

Implementing appropriate customer data privacy and security measures is mandatory to cultivate customer trust and loyalty and sets you apart from your competitors. We hope the suggestions outlined in the article will help you create a robust data protection plan.