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3 tips for balancing personal information while maintaining that personalised marketing edge

Customers' voices, in the form of smart data, can change the financial trajectory of brands and the loyalty of customers. Data powers everything - from delivering on marketing strategies to evaluating its success and everything in between.

But what happens when the age of big data merges with the age of personal information protection on this trajectory? With just over six months left for organisations to prepare for compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA), this trajectory need not change – as long as marketers embrace their role in protecting their customers’ voices.

Putting personal information first 

Organisations accept that customers are more than just buyers. Responsible organisations embrace that their customers are active stakeholders who invest their time and attention into building a relationship with a brand. The marketing function of these organisations are paying close attention to every data touchpoint they have with their customers. 

Case in point, take the 2018 Global Consumer Pulse study by Accenture, which found that 70 percent of canvassed customers choose not do business with a provider if they don't trust them to protect their personal information. But, when it means they will receive personalised value, efficient services, convenience or competitive pricing, more than 75 percent of these customers are willing to provide their data. 

Data affects so much of what matters in the world of marketing today to predict behaviour and drive sales. From deliverability to read rates to avoiding unsubscribes to personalised vouchers. 

Marketing departments are in a good position to leverage the trust that customers are putting into their hands. We recommend that the marketing function aims to work closely with the chief information officer (CIO) or CMT (chief marketing technologist) when designing and implementing personalised marketing strategies to reach the right customers and track buying behaviour. 

How the CIO rose to the occasion in 2020

Is digital transformation upending the C-suite? Do the new corporate titles and functions such as Chief Digital Officer and Chief Data Officer threaten the existence of the Chief Information Officer (CIO)?...

By Francois Kriel, Issued by Kriel & Co 27 Oct 2020


But let’s get practical. How does a marketing professional set a foundation for, and implement, data protection to transform customer touch points around privacy into a positive customer experience? 

Here are three tips to help you manage the changing process together with your CIO while never missing a digital marketing beat:

    1. Offer customers a sense of transparency

Ensure that data storage and the management thereof remain transparent to a new customer approaching your brand upon first point of contact. Conduct regular internal data reviews and system audits in order to remain aware of exactly what personal information is being collected and which responsible parties (such as agencies and other vendors) process, store and manage personal information on behalf of the brand. 

Be sure to regularly update company policies and frameworks to not only remain compliant with requirements, but proactively keeping data secure. Policies and procedures keep your organisation on a high-performance track and in line with regulations, technology and top marketing best practices such as putting data transparency and control above anything else. When practiced in combination, the Journal of Marketing suggests these marketing best practice elements could mitigate the effects of customer data vulnerability. In turn, this could potentially reduce the spread of negative word of mouth, increases brand loyalty and suppresses negative stock price effect in the event of a data breach. 

    2. Proactively mitigate potential data breach events

Data vulnerability and exposure to breaches can cost your organisation a priceless price tag. In fact, it is well documented in the IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report that the total cost of a data breach for a South African organisation can amount to an average of R34,4 million. It takes on average 280 days to identify and contain a breach. The result of a data breach might not only be costly in monetary terms, but it could also potentially sink a brand. 

Before you can even start to avoid a breach, we recommend that you first gain a deep understanding of the data you are collecting. Understand who has access to your data, and how or why are they using it? We recommend that one of the key ways to ensure control over data access is to have an Operator Agreement in place with any provider, agency or third party that has access to, processes or manages  your customer data on your behalf. Remember that your data is only as safe as the weakest link in your chain. 

    3. Automate marketing technology

In the 2020s, you have no excuse not to take advantage of the marketing technology available that enables personal data protection. Use the right tools in line with legislations and regulations to utilise your data in a way that will empower your marketing campaigns. 

When choosing which technology is best for your organisation, design your systems with privacy in mind first. Often the best platforms are easily integrated with your current systems and processes. We also recommend that you implement smart data management technology that is able to perform reviews of your precise targeting and that can provide an understanding and centralised view of the entire organisation’s data. 

Automation of marketing technology also has an added benefit – it prevents human error, and thereby lessens your vulnerability to a data breach event. 

Best practice really is the best practice

Data fuels marketing campaigns and allows marketers to maintain momentum, while driving ROI. But as your brand increasingly leverages consumer data for insightful action and to execute effectively targeted campaigns, it is ever more critical to stay attuned to the responsibility of protecting data and ensuring customers’ data privacy.

Marketers need to be aware of and on top of best practice for managing customer data and keeping it secure and private. When managing this change well, organisations enable themselves to provide their customers with a positive experience, drive return on investment for the organisation, all while operating within the legal parameters of privacy laws such as PoPIA. 

Where data meets sustainable growth, the protection of information should be inherent

Francois Kriel, change management consultant at Kriel & Co, agrees that data is no different than oil...

Issued by Kriel & Co 21 Sep 2020


To learn more about the privacy impact assessment options to fit the marketing and customer communication needs of any size organisation that is committed towards protecting personal information, please contact the multi-disciplinary change management consultant and attorney team of Kriel & Co and ENSafrica at moc.ocdnaleirk@olleh.

About the author

Francois Kriel is the change management consultant at Kriel & Co
Kriel  & Co
Kriel & Co is a reputable IMCSA accredited management consultant with a special focus on change management and digital transformation. The company is experienced in a variety of sectors including petroleum, renewable energy, accounting and auditing, retail, real estate, marketing & communications, higher education, banking and financial services.
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