Research has revealed that two thirds of respondents fret that their personal data is at risk, fuelling fears of a mass consumer 'opt-out' upon the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation come 2018.
Data is a key component for any business that wants to truly understand its customers, making it an instrumental resource for the marketing industry. However, following the "WannaCry" ransomware attack which affected more than 200,000 organisations in 150 countries, consumers' trust in businesses keeping their data safe has never been more prevalent. In fact, only a few weeks ago Gigya revealed that more than two in three consumers now don't trust a brand with their data. It appears consumers are questioning what companies are doing with their data and what the potential consequences could be. Marketers may not be the ones having to handle the protection of the data itself, but the pressure of how the data gets used will fall on their shoulders too.
This is only set to continue for marketers with another challenge fast approaching - the GDPR regulation allowing consumers to 'opt out' of sharing their data in 2018.This could result in a struggle to gain access to the insights needed to deliver the right campaigns to the appropriate audience simply because they don't know enough about who that audience is, what they want and ultimately how to reach them.
What cyber attacks mean for customer data
So why are consumers becoming more reluctant to share their data? Even before WannaCry, data hacks were constantly hitting the headlines and it's clearly not going unnoticed by customers who share their data with brands.For example, the recent Wonga cyber attack affected thousands of people, but they are not alone, joining a long list of companies such as LinkedIn, MySpace, and TalkTalk to name a few. As such, companies, more than ever before, are being put in a position where consumers don't feel safe sharing personal data.
Brands want consumers to feel safe with them, but understandably many are worried about the businesses lack of control.
Impact for marketers
Many people point to the financial consequences, with Talk Talk's cyber security breach reaching £80 million, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. For marketers, the impact on reputation is a huge factor that one can't easily put a price on. Recovering from a data breach takes time and so does rebuilding the rapport with the customers, who are in turn becoming more reluctant to share their data. Some consumers may react to this by refusing to share details or include incorrect information when online. This could result in sign-ups to email newsletters providing incorrect feedback on their audience.
For example, if customers lie about who they are, marketers could think that their audience consists of women in their 40s, when in reality they could be completely different, ultimately impacting their campaigns.
Using the right tools
Thankfully, with the right tools marketers can build a far better picture of customers nowadays than relying solely on data they share. A customer may tweak a response in a survey or refuse to share their email but this can be overcome. First, marketers must make the most of the data already available to them. To make the process of data analysis that little bit less intimidating, a simple step, for example, is to tag display campaigns and extract richer insights about who their users are, to better identify which consumers are just clicking on ads and which consumers will actually convert to a purchase.>See also: How to make big data work for SMEs. Here are a few other things marketers can do to make sure their ducks are in a row.
Build campaigns around various characteristics
Don't base everything on assuming that the audience is a specific age, think of other threads that link the customers together. Their location and interests can give just as much useful insight.
If a customer has bought a fridge or a stove in the past they may not want another one but it is likely they are redoing their kitchen and it will be possible to then build related ads that communicate to them directly
Collaborate and share
It's important to be open to sharing and trading information with other companies to get the information needed to take a holistic approach and fill in any knowledge gaps.
Introduce other tools
Consumers may not interact in the same way as before, so marketers need to ensure they don't become complacent. They must build campaigns using cookies, for example, in order to make the most out of browsing history to build a better picture of online activity and interests.
Seek expertise from others
Data management services are fast becoming a go-to resource to analyse all-important data. Brands can make use of a variation of data types, such as affinities and attitudinal behaviour, which can then be analysed by a dedicated team or agency to create a clearer picture of relevant audiences. Consumers may be wising up and sadly it isn't likely that cyber attackers will be slowing down anytime soon. The marketing industry must not let the GDPR or the headlines put them off sourcing the information they need and look for solutions to ensure their campaigns are reaching and targeting the right people most effectively.
This article was first published on the Information Age website.