Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Respect the Power of Data

As any marketer can tell you, data is one of the most valuable assets businesses possess, and it needs to be managed with the same care and protection as cash and other physical assets. The more that marketers understand the context within which it exists, the more power it can wield. But with power comes responsibility, and as data becomes more easily accessible, the grey area between intrusive and intelligent marketing grows.

Consumers are more willing to share personal information when they clearly understand how it will be utilized and are made aware that data is being gathered prior to the time of collection. From transparency clauses on websites to verbally communicating why the data is being requested, companies can encourage their customers and prospects to freely share information in order to better meet their needs.

The boundaries of what is considered appropriate vary greatly among cultures and individuals, and merit as much art as science. While companies can take steps to ensure the accuracy and integrity of their data, no information management program is flawless, so it’s wise to anticipate failures in data usage and pre-emptively determine how to effectively respond in such situations.

Seven Best Practices for Data Usage

1.      Customers are clearly and consistently made aware of how, when and why data is gathered.
2.      You publicly state why a customer is being targeted via digital and print communications.
3.      Your company employs a data compliance department, either internally or externally.
4.      All customer data is secured utilizing state-of-the-art technology.
5.      You provide opt-out opportunities for customers and prospects who do not wish to share personal information.
6.      You regularly ask customers about their level of comfort regarding data use, via surveys or feedback loops.
7.      Crisis management processes are clearly communicated internally, prior to an actual data breach.

Respect the Power of Data  appears in its entirety in the current issue of Consolidated Graphicsemerge® magazine.