You may have been browsing idly through YouTube videos and noticed an ad for an SEO tool for digital marketing. Just what you had been thinking about to promote your online merch store. How did YouTube know to swing such timely, relevant ads your way? The answer is data.

Based on your online searches, the videos you liked, and the pre-existing data they had about you, Google built a profile of you. They then selected the ads fitting to this profile and tagged them to the videos you watch. This is an example of how the collection of customer data can be useful to digital marketing.

But while businesses have all to gain by using this data to refine their marketing, questions have been raised about the invasion of consumer privacy. Should companies be allowed to collect data without their consent? There are both international and local laws governing the collection and use of data. You need to be sure your digital marketing strategy is not infringing on the privacy and confidentiality rights of your target audience.

Here is how you can ensure your digital marketing efforts protect consumer privacy while helping you achieve your business objectives:

Know What Information You’re Dealing With

As you think about the kind of information you need to build your customer profiles and the channels through which you’ll obtain this precious data, you need to remember to do so within the boundaries of the law.

There are several pieces of state and federal legislation put in place to protect consumer privacy in the U.S. Also, the European Union enshrined the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 to provide comprehensive protection for consumers within all its member states against the abuse of their personal information.

Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in hefty fines. You, therefore, need to take proactive measures to ensure you are compliant as you roll out your online marketing campaigns. Some include:

  • Collect only the data you will need to create a profile of the consumer as pertains to the products you will be offering. If data is not contributing to your marketing efforts, don’t collect it. After all, it is expensive to collect, store and secure data.
  • To minimize this burden, periodically analyze the data you collect to see if it is relevant to your customer profiling. If you find that your marketing efforts would not be hampered by the absence of that information, you can cease collecting it.
  • Do third parties have access to the data you collect? If they do, do you understand the parameters within which they will use the information?

Limit Access

The fewer the staff members in your organization have access to your customer data, the lower the chances of it landing in the wrong hands or being abused. For this reason, you should have an internal data privacy policy within your business. This is especially important if yours is a large corporation with hundreds of staff members scattered across different regions or countries.

Your policy will not only state how your staff should handle consumer information but also who within the organization has access to it. If you will be outsourcing the consumer data collection and analytics to a third party, you need to ensure they have the right controls in place.

Major advertising agencies in New York and other parts of the country understand the risks and legal requirements when dealing with this sensitive information. They will also have a better capacity to put the required security measures in place to safeguard consumer data against cybersecurity breaches. 

Keep Your Customers Informed

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into being in 2020 and is essentially considered the template that all other states will soon replicate to enforce the rights of consumers as regards their personal information.

This law outlines a number of privileges consumers have as regards the information collected about them for marketing purposes. It gives them the right to know what data you’re collecting about them and to access it if they need to. Under this law, they even have the right to delete the info you collect about them.

To avoid penalties for breaching this law, you need to ensure your customers are aware you’re collecting data about them. This is why you get the pop-up window when accessing most websites informing you that cookies are being used and giving you the option to manage or disable them.

Knowledge is Power

As you begin your digital marketing campaign, you need to ensure you understand the parameters of consumer data collection laid down by the law. Find out what international, federal, and your state’s data protection laws say, and be sure you’re compliant. While scrutiny on small businesses is not as intense as it is on bigger players, make sure you’ve mitigated all your risks.

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