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Tips On Best Practice Customer Insight And Ethical Data Use

Jed MoleJuly 07, 2015

What’s the best advice around the ethics of data collection and use? Most countries today have detailed regulations and legislation around consumer privacy and data. But as technology and practices advance, ethical lines; when it’s appropriate to use data or when not, can become blurred. Just because a marketer can legally use a consumer’s data, it doesn’t always mean they should.

In the name of transparency and fair usage, below we’ve taken a look at data ethics conversations from around the web, exploring how marketers do (and should) act when considering the ethical use of consumer data.

Ethical and Legal Issues in Marketing‘ – B2B Marketing

Published on B2B Marketing in February this year, this piece outlines common ethical and legal data collection issues found in marketing today. The blog is a must for marketers and organisations who want to know how to stay on the right side of ethical data practice.

Data collection is integral to marketing, aiding personalisation and recognition across channels. But a certain consumer wariness has emerged regarding how data is used, partly through lack of understanding. Data education and transparency are key to avoiding consumer uncertainty; consumers should be informed of the value exchange that occurs when they share their data – that with their consent, their data is used to serve them more relevant marketing – and in return they get to use platforms such as social media and search engines for free.

For transparency and trust, whenever marketers collect consumer data, they must:

  • Include the option to opt-out – and stick to stated preferences. Don’t call someone who doesn’t want to hear from you! This is a legal requirement. Make sure you comply.
  • Be clear on what consumer data is being collected and how it will be used.
  • Prove back the value – inform consumers of the value back to them.

The Ethics of Big Data‘ – Forbes

“Data gathering is not going away. Every business sector now collects data of one form or another, and the future marketplace will have even more computing power at their fingertips to mine customer behavior. But, experts say, companies can collect and analyze confidential data in a way that doesn’t alarm their customers or compromise privacy. All it takes is a little planning and forethought.”

Though this Forbes piece is from 2014, the call for forethought, consideration and responsibility regarding data ethics is still relevant today. The article stresses responsible ethical insight through selectivity and aggregation to protect consumers and build trust:

“Just because a company can collect all kinds of personal information on consumers, it doesn’t mean they should use it… Long before a marketing plan based on big data is in place, companies should decide what information would be helpful and limit themselves to just that,”

Common sense is key to ethical use: appropriate data use will enhance, not endanger the customer experience. But marketers must remember to place importance and priority on safeguarding consumer data to retain long term trust.

Key Best Practice Takeaways for Ethical Data Use:

  • Be Responsible. Know how you plan to use data, and prioritise safeguards to protect it.
  • Be Transparent: Keep consumers informed on what data you’re collecting, how it will be used, and always give the option to opt-out.
  • Be Controlled: Only collect the data you need to to retain trust with the customer
  • Be Privacy Aware: Marketers must do more than just consider ethics. Make sure privacy regulation and legislation is a priority, and data is safeguarded.

Other Great Ethical Data Reads From Around The Web

The Weaponisation of Data – Why Brands Have a Duty to Treat Consumer Data Responsibly‘ – The Drum.
Explores the ethics behind how organisations are, and should be using consumer data.

The Hidden Value of Acxiom’s LiveRamp – Medium
More than just the theory, read on to explore how Acxiom’s LiveRamp solution keeps insight ethical and privacy-compliant.

Ethical Questions Around Big Data – CIO
What are the limits of privacy? And are consumers really aware of what they’re doing when they give consent and opt-in to data collection?