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Learn five ways to ensure you’re using consumer data ethically

Created at November 29th, 2016

Learn five ways to ensure you’re using consumer data ethically

How do you capture the attention of an audience that’s already being bombarded by hundreds of other marketers trying to attract their attention?

This is the fundamental question every marketer needs to confront. The answer is straightforward: create more personalized and relevant experiences. And the way to do that is with data-driven marketing. It’s proven to deliver tangible results in customer engagement, loyalty, and market growth. In fact, leaders in this area are almost three times more likely to have increased revenues.

But, along with this new opportunity, new challenges and questions arise. The most pertinent of which revolve around the ethics and best practices of data collection and usage. Get it wrong and the consequences can range from a loss of revenue, to damage to your brand reputation, even to legal repercussions. So, how do you ensure your brand is asking the right questions when it comes to using data?

In part six of our Ethical Use of Data video series, Sheila Colclasure, covers the five simple rules of ethical data use.

1. Define the Value

The first rule of ethical data-driven marketing is to know why you’re collecting data—and make sure everyone around you knows too. When you design your marketing programs you need to identify the value it holds for all stakeholders, which means both your brand and your customers. After all, a good data-marketing program should benefit everyone.

Once you’ve done this you need to articulate the outcomes your strategy should deliver. These outcomes should include rewarding, engaging and personalized experiences for your customers, and greater brand loyalty and increased revenue for your brand.

If your customers know that providing the right data will result in value for them, they are less likely to leave bogus data—a trick 67% of customers surveyed by admitted to when they were unclear of how their data was going to be used.

2. Ensure transparency

If your business handles customer data—and let’s face it, which business doesn’t— then trust is everything. Without it, your customers won’t want to do business with you, and will inevitably take their data and their business elsewhere. The truth is that often customers don’t actually know where their data is going, so a great way to establish trust is through transparency.

In practice this means making sure your consumers are fully aware of your data practices, and that they have an opportunity to learn about, participate in, and in some cases even dictate the collection and use of their information. Building confidence with your customers in this way will result in greater brand loyalty and increased revenues.

3. Know the origins of your data and the rules surrounding it

When dealing with vast quantities of data it’s your responsibility to identify its origins and ensure you have full knowledge of the rules attached to it (because, as you probably know, the rules that originate with data stick with it throughout its lifetime). So, put processes in place to understand the permissions associated with the data you hold, and mitigate the risk of misuse.

4. Choose partners wisely

In business, as in life, the company you keep says a lot about you. When selecting partners, you should pay close attention to their data practices, and make sure they are considered, careful and accountable. Otherwise, no matter how seriously you take data ethics, you could find your organization unknowingly wading into murkier waters.

5. Remember context matters

With data-driven marketing the ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘when’ is vital. Always bear in mind that information in one context can be useful, but when that information is used in a context they weren’t expecting to find it in, their surprise can quickly turn to mistrust. Remember that your end goal is to delight customers, so have processes in place to make sure you can measure that you’re meeting their expectations and using data in a way that feels respectful and rewarding to them at all times.

Dive deeper into ethical data management

Following these five rules should help you ensure that your marketing processes are both ethical and successful.

If you’d like to learn more about ethical data use, watch our video to see Sheila Colclasure talk about the Five Guidelines for the Ethical Use of Data and read our whitepaper The New Codes of Conduct: Guiding Principles for the Ethical Use of Data.

Part Six: What are the top 5 considerations to ensure ethical use? from Acxiom on Vimeo.