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Marketing Automation for Small Business without Sacrificing Customer Data Privacy

Even for newbies, building a website can be easy with today’s tools. Turning it into a successful online business is a whole different challenge. You can have the most visually appealing site with great functionality, but still struggle to attract users and customers. That’s why marketing is such an important skill and practice in every modern industry.

The power of technology has radically shifted how marketing is done in today’s world. No longer do companies have to invest a lot of money on television or print advertisements that might not prove successful. Instead, the internet allows for marketing to be targeted at specific demographics so that people see ads that are as relevant as possible.

However, small businesses are now coming up against a crucial dilemma. Online privacy has become a major discussion in recent years, and large amounts of personal data are required to run a successful marketing platform. So how can small businesses keep automating their advertising and marketing efforts without sacrificing their customers’ trust? Good question.

Government regulation and compliance and how it affects marketing automation

After seeing serious data breaches become almost a daily occurrence due to new hacking threats or negligence, some governments have begun taking steps to regulate how personal data is handled online. A prime example is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was instituted by the European Union in 2018.

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GDPR affects any small business or organization that operates a website within its boundaries or caters to customers from Europe. In order to stay compliant, you must adhere to a strict list of policies that could change how you collect, share and analyze data about individual people.

Failure to stay compliant with GDPR comes with hefty fines, and the same is true if your organization suffers a data breach and does not notify affected users in a timely manner. Many governments across the globe are now looking to institute new regulations that are based on the standards set in the EU’s GDPR.

Read more on GDPR Blogs by Rohit N Shetty

Starting with transparency

As an online company that relies on data-driven marketing strategies, regulations like GDPR may seem like a roadblock to your goals. However, in reality, it is an opportunity to review your data retention policies and consider the level of trust you are looking to maintain with customers.

The key priority when it comes to preserving user privacy is to be as transparent as possible in every situation. Collecting user data is not inherently illegal or bad. But you need to be upfront with people about when it is happening and what the ramifications will be for them.

For organizations that need to overhaul their marketing strategy to be aligned with government regulations, the best place to start is probably with a new privacy policy. This document should be accessible from your homepage and should be written in a simple format. The goal is to help customers understand what their data is used for and how it is being safely stored.

Transparency also means giving individual users the option to remove themselves from marketing distributions or tracking. The best practice is to use an opt-in approach, which means that data storage will not begin until a user expressly indicates that they want to participate.

Email marketing in a GDPR world

For almost any online business, email marketing is an indispensable part of the overall strategy and one of the areas it’s easy to run afoul of GDPR and similar regulations. Today, at the heart of the best email marketing software services lies automation. You can set up a series of autoresponders that will automatically be sent at specific intervals depending upon a particular link or sign-up form a potential customer clicked or filled out.

The thing to keep in mind is that it is in these services’ best interest to make clients like you feel happy and secure that privacy laws are being followed. There’s a good chance they’ll do their part where needed to update wording, function, and format related to templates, policies, features, internal processes, agreements, and more. But you have responsibilities also independent of your email marketing provider.

Read about the term “data controller” and understand that you’re probably one according to GDPR. This is particularly important in countries like Germany, U.K., and Canada, which had strict data controller laws for email marketing platforms and other small business software prior to the ratification of GDPR in May 2018.

Rest easy, No one is going to ask you to stop using email or social media posting automation. What you do need to do is understand which are the dangerous spots in the marketing process that could get you in trouble with GDPR. You need to know the proper way to collect, handle, and store customer data, and also correctly respond to requests from the owners of that data.

Technology changes to make to marketing automation

For online businesses, one of the big challenges in prioritizing user privacy is getting a full understanding of where user data resides and how it is being managed. Cloud environments are often quite distributed and may involve several third-party platforms. This means that responsibility for compliance is spread out and can be difficult to control.

Businesses should perform a thorough audit of their marketing systems and ensure that each one meets regulatory standards. The best vendor tools will offer to assist in these audits to verify compliance status. Avoid any third-party product that is offering to buy user data from you for marketing purposes.

Stressing the benefits

Many people across the globe have become skeptical about sharing any sort of personal or sensitive information with online companies. In order to keep your marketing automation systems running effectively, you need to build consistent trust with these users. The best way to do that is by emphasizing the benefits they will receive from smarter marketing campaigns.

The reason most internet users get annoyed with advertisements is not because they take up too much space; it’s because they are trying to sell a product or service that is of no interest to them. Segmented and targeted marketing is the solution to this dilemma, but the only way to make that possible is to leverage key bits of user data.

To help put customer concerns at ease, companies should consider making all marketing data anonymized and encrypted whenever possible. For example, let’s say, “John Smith” adds two tennis rackets to his shopping cart. That information can be tracked in your marketing database to target relevant ads to him, but the data should be tagged to a randomized ID number and encoded so that hackers will not be able to steal it.

Bottom line

Modern small businesses rely on automation platforms to make their marketing strategies smarter and more effective. But these systems require a huge amount of user data, which can feel like an invasion of privacy to your customers.

As the owner of a website or online business, it is your responsibility to store all private data in a secure manner while still leveraging its value in marketing campaigns. That might be a tall order but that is the reality in today’s intrusive online world.

I hope i have been clear in the marketing automation domain wrt various compliance and its impact. Awaiting your comments.

Rohit Shetty

Rohit Shetty born and brought up in Mumbai is a Digital Marketer by profession and a writer and philanthropist by passion. Rohit started his career with First Step Publishing in Mumbai in 2011 as a Digital Marketer and excelled in the field of Publishing. With First Step Publishing, Rohit eliminated the cumbersome process of waiting for a writer to get published. With First Step Publishing, Rohit Shetty has been known for marching forward with some great titles and allowing first-time authors to find a platform and publish their content in a market space that focuses on branding a certain 'author' rather than scouring talent. In an interview with DNA, First Step Publishing has been reported to be one of the fast-growing publishing firms based in Mumbai. The firm has the tagline 'Paying Ways For New Writers' which is meant to reflect the motive with which it was founded. Rohit Shetty holds two National Records Records being Book With the Shortest Title " i " with Limca Book of Records Special Literature Edition and with India Book of Records as well. He holds the title of the Most Published poet of India in 2012 and 2013 with India Book Of Records and Unique World Records. Apart from writing, Rohit is also an active Philanthropist and works towards Education and Health sectors. Awards and Recognitions Nominated four times for India’s Fourth Highest Civilian Award Padma Shri in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 2012: Rohit has been recognized for his work and felicitated at the Grand Finale of Mulund Fest in 2012 by MLC Mr Charan Singh Sapra and MPCC President Mr Manikrao Thackrey 2012 and 2013: Most Published Poet by India Book of Records 2015: Book with the Shortest Title from Limca Book of Records, India Book of Records 2018: Member of NITI Ayog Atal Movement of change and Mentor of Change 2019: Nominated by Social Samosa as 40 Under 40 Digital Marketers in India 2019: Rohit Digital Marketing Blog ranked 13th Spot as India's Best Digital Marketing Blog by Expertido 2019: Rohit Digital Marketing Blog was also Ranked in Top 50 India’s Best Digital Marketing Blog by Feedspot 2019: Received prestigious Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial Award for work towards building the nation 2020: Global Brand Icon Awad by Brand Opus 2021: Rashtriya Prerna Award

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