Building Customer Trust through Ethical Data Practices

As marketers process more and more data in an effort to create customized and sometimes personalized experiences, customers increasingly demand assurance that their information is being handled ethically and securely. Because new data consolidation challenges and opportunities are constantly emerging, now may be a good time to re-examine your company’s data ethics principles.

Changes in the customer data landscape should prompt a fresh look at digital marketing ethics, particularly as martech adapts to a cookie-free future. Technologies like customer data platforms (CDPs) offer opportunities for granular analysis by merging diverse customer data from multiple channels. While CDPs are generally very secure, the marketing professionals who use them should a) know how to handle personal information securely and ethically, and b) communicate data protocols and practices effectively to each other and to the customer. The following practices frame a successful customer-first data ethics strategy:

  • Communicate clearly and transparently about how customers’ private information will be used. Customers should have an easy way to select data sharing options – including opt-outs – and providing this control can build trust.
  • Use as little data as is necessary for your marketing objective. More data points do not always lead to a more effective marketing strategy. Moreover, customers want to know that companies are only asking for relevant information, and not hoarding superfluous private data.
  • Keep informed on data security best practices, and ensure they are implemented. Customers appreciate knowing their data is well-managed, and appreciate quick, decisive responses when a hack or breach does occur.

Data Security for Customer Confidence

When considering data ethics, security concerns weigh especially heavily, particularly in the wake of high-profile data breaches. But few marketing leaders know where the most critical vulnerabilities lie. Breaches are preventable with the right technology and safeguards, but marketers need to understand the threats to implement appropriate measures. With data security, small investments can be the difference between stability and catastrophe—and can make or break customer trust. Some effective security practices include:

    • Establish an information security policy, or re-review the policy you already have. Make sure your cybersecurity policy is unified and applies to data in all locations.
    • Ensure that your team knows good security protocol. For ideas on what a comprehensive data security training session should look like, read here.
    • Encrypt all data, when working in-office or remotely. You may want to assign a team to ensure compliance with this and all other security regulations.

Developing ethical data policies and strong customer trust requires going above and beyond what the law requires in terms of transparency and accountability. However, establishing a comprehensive customer-first data policy need not be prohibitively difficult; with transparent communication, attention to detail, and some security foresight, you can provide your customers the knowledge and assurance they need to keep doing business with you.

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