• Helen Pritchett

Why Best Practice in Data Usage Pays Dividends

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Using data for commercial purposes can bring great dividends but also great complications. Personal data is sacrosanct. It is given freely but with caveats. Consumers willingly share their personal data because they trust the organisations they share with. Should this trust be broken it jeopardises the bond between brand and consumer, potentially irretrievably. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand this is bad for business.

Usage of personal data is a huge, diverse and, sometimes controversial, subject. As we’re in the B2B arena we’re going to focus on B2B data and the quirks of gathering, manipulating, storing, and using something with such intrinsic, intimate value.

Willingness to Share Data AKA “What’s in it for me?”

Studies have shown the consumers are becoming less and less comfortable with sharing personal data. Brands are now finding it isn’t enough to focus on regulatory compliance but that they also need to explain and justify how and why data is collected in the first place and how it will be used going forward. Often consumers are unwilling to share data as they are not clear how it will be used.

However, other research highlights that consumers will share details but only with trusted brands and for a true value exchange. For example, 57% of global consumers are often willing to share their data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts.

Organisations need to have a clear and transparent purpose for data collection and usage. Having such a strategy in place engenders confidence and helps consumers feel secure in sharing their data.

Do you need a data strategy?

The straight answer is yes.

According to an ONS blog a data strategy should “describe how an organisation wants to manage its data state in a way that supports is wider business strategy goals. Therefore, the first step towards understanding what a data strategy means for your organisation, is to understand what your business objectives are and how data is related to them.”

Key aspects of a data strategy include:

  • Data management

  • Data Analysis

  • Security and Compliance

  • Technology

If you want to research this further, read a UK government blog on the subject here.

Businesses should implement data strategies and methodologies to keep data secure and as up to date as possible within internal CRM platforms as even the most accurate data set can become stagnant quickly unless managed properly. Data will be used for a variety of activities and departments, with holistic insight needed across the board for tracking and analysis.

Marketing departments should be encouraged to ensure all engagement or intent intelligence is mapped back to the CRM from potentially disparate email engines, whilst sales teams should be urged to ensure that all possible enrichment intelligence from conversations with prospects is also logged e.g. renewal dates, pain points being experienced with current suppliers etc. Continuous development, enrichment, cleansing, and management of a database will yield any business the result that they are looking for.

GDPR and ePrivacy

Since the introduction of the new data legislation, there also have been misconceptions about the use of third-party data. As per the Third-Party Data Guide, nothing in the GDPR prohibits the use of third-party data, provided it is approached and undertaken in the right way and with appropriate safeguards. Data breaches are a common occurrence ­– the NHS, Fortnite and US Customs and Border Protection have all had major data breaches since November 2018 – but the right steps, taken at the right time and with the right partner agency can prevent you finding yourself on the wrong side of data protection laws. The right agency will also provide the right, cleansed data, which is accurate, up to date and compliant.

B2B data: choosing the right data

Do you have data? If yes, can you access it and is it accurate and clean?

If not, do you need to buy data?

Acquiring new data is a challenge for marketers, with necessary compliance around both inbound and outbound routes making this difficult. The best advice we can give is to find a data partner that works within all legislative guidelines, regularly cleanses its data, and provides regular data updates.

Polina Cook, Business Development Director at both marketing services agency CPB and data supplier ProspectaBase, offers the following insight: “ProspectaBase creates a fundamental base for our customer’s business development, sales, and marketing goals. With many companies under massive amounts of pressure to succeed in the current market, it’s now more important than ever to get your brand, messaging and offerings seen by the right prospects and stakeholders.”

Polina continues “I often refer to data as the ‘holy grail’ of any business strategy, as accurate data, if managed and used correctly, can have a monumental impact on developing existing or forging new business relationships.”

In 2020 the DMA offered the following data best practice guidance, stating that expanding your database while maintaining compliance needn’t be intimidating.

  1. Know the rules and adhere to all legal and relevant codes

  2. Adopt a data protection by design approach: identify your legal basis of processing, following the transparency principle and carrying out due diligence.

  3. Be clear on specific channel cans and can-nots: ensure your marketing strategy and data acquisition plan are aligned and collect permissions for all channels

  4. Keep the customer front and centre: aim for personalised communications that collect data in line with GDPR and all related data protection legislation

  5. Fulfilling your accountability: help your organisation offer clarity to (potential) customers. Have systems in place to record data clearly and accurately and store it accessibly as well as appending permission statements to data records.

For more information on this guidance, see the DMA Data Guide.

In conclusion, data best practice requires us all to take great care over the collection, storage, and usage of data. No matter whether it is your own data or bought in from a third party you should always ensure you do the following:

  1. Prioritize data protection and security

  2. Focus on and ensure you use data quality

  3. Cleanse to ensure accuracy and reduce duplicate data

  4. Create a data recovery strategy

A recent DMA blog highlighted that, “as an industry, we are creating more data than ever before; every interaction leaves a data footprint.” Organisations want to get their hands on as much data as they can. As a result, it’s imperative that we consider our organisational, individual, and societal values to ensure we’re applying the right ethical foundations to data usage. If we stick to our won advice, the data we use can help us discover customers, meet their needs, develop strong brand loyalty, and improve pipeline.

After all, if data is the ‘holy grail’ of a business, it should surely be given the respect and attention that is deserves.

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