A Word on Ethics: Don’t Misuse Your Data

Data is at the center of the marketing world these days, but it should be used with caution. Here are 5 best practices for data collection and usage.

When it comes to marketing, a word that is constantly used now is personalization. Companies are endless trying to figure out what makes their customers tick and how they can reach them on a personal level.

At the same time, however, there’s another P word that’s just as important: privacy. People are more aware than ever that their information is floating around the internet and at risk for getting into the wrong hands. So, how can businesses use personal information to target consumers without misusing it? Here are some data practices they need to put in place.

Be sure customers want you to have their data

While companies should look for opportunities to pleasantly surprise their customers, they need to avoid unpleasant surprises at all costs. And if someone is suddenly getting emails from a business they never gave their email address to, this definitely falls into that latter category. This is why it is always important to give people a choice to opt in for things like emails, as well as the chance to opt out.

Don’t pass data around

When customers allow a business to use their information, they are trusting that it will be used properly. If this business immediately turns around and lets a vendor or another organization they work with use it without consent, that trust is broken.

If there is a breach of this trust, all the dollars that marketers spend acquiring customers dissipates, says Sahaj Patel, co-founder of Medly Pharmacy. In addition to the ethical arguments for respecting privacy, it just makes good business sense to do so.

In addition to their own opt-in, companies should also give customers a choice to receive any communications from other partners.

Vet your vendors

Speaking of other partners, while a company may be doing everything right with the data it gets from its customers, it might not be able to say the same about its vendors. In many cases, it is unavoidable to give them access to at least some of the data, and if they’re not keeping it safe or are using it unethically, this will reflect poorly on the company. In addition, if their actions were to result in a data breach, the company could be held liable.

Be honest and transparent about data collection

Again, companies don’t want to do things to annoy or anger their customers, which is why they need to be open about what kind of data they are collecting and how they intend to use it. For example, businesses that use cookies to track users should let customers know that they do this as soon as they visit their website and that by using their site they are agreeing to the use of cookies. They should also be directed to the privacy policy for more information.

Be careful where you get data

A company that supplements the data it has by buying more from data companies has to be sure it’s using reputable sources. Unscrupulous data collectors are common these days, and if a company uses data it is not supposed to have, the business’s reputation will take a big hit. There is also a good chance that the data from this type of company is old, unreliable, or just flat-out worthless.

At BDEX, clients can be sure that the quality data we give them access to has been collected responsibly. To learn more about our services or policies, you can get in touch with us through our online contact form.