This time last year, I was optimistic about the future of the data and database marketing industry. After all, far from damaging our sector, GDPR has actually put to the sword those businesses which do not treat data with the care, respect and attention that it deserves.
The volume of data may have reduced but the quality has definitely increased. Even so, the ePrivacy Regulation remains mired in the Brussels mud, but third-party data is still alive and kicking and technology continues to play a major role in our rapidly changing world.
So, here is my take on the big drivers this year…
Data hygiene and quality
Data hygiene will continue to rise to the top of the agenda. Businesses are recognising the fact that GDPR insists data must be kept up-to-date and accurate, and this message is now filtering down from the bigger players through to the mid-size market. It will continue to progress to smaller companies and SMEs throughout 2020.
So, every company, whatever their size, needs to know their data, and understand what they have and why they process it. They need to make sure they know who, what, where, when and how personal data is or was collected, and analyse if they can keep using it compliantly under GDPR.
Research also shows that the higher the quality of data an organisation holds, the more efficient and effective an organisation is, and data quality is a top priority for 41% of UK data leaders, according to a Big Data LDN report.
Fundamentally, whatever the business or marketing purpose for which data is being supplied and used, from customer segmentation, cleaning data, behavioural processing through to data suppression, the same rules apply.
Wherever personally identifiable data is being supplied, for whatever purpose, data must be collected and processed transparently and compliantly.
It is in the best interest of brands – and the industry as a whole – to only use data where the collection and use is completely transparent and compliant.
At REaD Group, we are strong believers in best practice; we are able to take any record from our suite and demonstrate where it was collected as well as the legal basis on which it is being processed. We believe this should be a mandatory requirement for all personal data utilised in today’s environment.
Transparency will be just as important in 2020 as it was in 2019. Marketers should be able to demonstrate that all their data sources are transparent, justified, accountable and compliant. They should also be able to provide clear documentation that outlines the legal use of the data they provide.
Direct marketing can take place as a legitimate interest activity so long as certain circumstances and a ‘balance of interests’ test is met. By identifying and understanding the marketing journeys, marketers can analyse whether a legitimate interest for direct marketing is available instead of consent and if it is, they must record how they met the protection of an individual’s rights and reasonable expectations.
Automation will continue to be important because it brings efficiency, speed, accuracy and enhanced information security by reducing the requirement to transfer data. APIs are everywhere and businesses will continue to embrace them.
Automation is able to manage the ‘heavy lifting’ required on the huge amounts of data that brands hold. Automating data cleansing provides cleaner data, which in turn provides increased insight, better marketing decision-making, triggered campaigns, live personalisation and improved business planning.
Automation not only improves regulatory compliance and increases customer loyalty, it can also boost the customer experience and provides brand protection. It reduces processing costs, uses less infrastructure and improves resilience, and removes or reduces manual processes and associated resource time, leaving it to be redeployed on more creative activities.
All of which means I am as optimistic as ever about our industry’s future…