Data breaches with big companies make big news.

Target. Equifax. Home Depot. 

Those data breaches exposed the private data of millions of customers.

But data privacy is also important for small businesses. 

Here’s why companies must protect customer data privacy in digital marketing.

Why Have Data Privacy Protocols?

One word: Trust.

The major data breaches for those three companies were PR nightmares. Equifax’s stock lost $4 billion in value following the data breach. 

Although Target, Home Depot, and Equifax are still large companies and still in business, they had the money and tools to deal with the data breaches. They were able to pay fines and settle lawsuits in the millions of dollars because they are billion-dollar companies.

Small businesses might not be so lucky.

In this instance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure because one lawsuit from a customer data privacy issue might sink a small business.

Five Ways to Protect Customer Data Privacy for Digital Marketing

Companies can start their move to better customer data privacy protections with these five steps.

1)  Understanding Privacy Laws

The United States has privacy laws for digital assets, usually stemming from the federal government because digital communication easily crosses state lines. In highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, and law (YMYL industries), small businesses face greater data privacy scrutiny.

For healthcare, HIPAA is the prevailing law in the United States.

In finance, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 outlines consumer protections with regards to privacy.

Businesses that break these laws face fines, penalties, and prosecution.

Beyond that, companies lose credibility and trust with their customers.

2)   Collecting Only Essential Information

Marketing teams only need a certain amount of data to convert a sale. 

In many instances, just a name and an email are enough.

Other companies need more data, like phone numbers and addresses, if they deliver goods or services to someone’s home.

When small businesses collect this information, they should state outright what information they collect. If a customer has a question as to why, the business can answer.

Collecting information on a website is fairly straightforward.

But what about an app?

Before an app activates on someone’s phone, it asks for permission to access certain data points. There should be a clear statement or document that someone can read, and it should highlight precisely what kind of information it will collect.

Does every person read this fine print?

Probably not.

Does a small business need this fine print in case of a problem later?

Yes.

3)   Privacy Policy Stated Outright

No matter the digital marketing tools a business employs, such as an email, website, social media, or text messaging, the business must have a privacy policy somewhere for customers to read.

Yes, they are all pretty standard on websites.

But they can save small businesses from legal action in many instances.

And they are required by law.

Privacy policies should state precisely:

  • Any and all types of information collected by the website or app
  • Purpose for collecting said information
  • How the data is stored and accessed
  • What security is employed to keep the data safe
  • Details of data transfers
  • Affiliated websites, third parties, or organizations (because they might have access to the information)
  • Use of cookies

A cookie policy is also popular, and many companies employ those on their websites.

4)   Limiting Access

Not everyone on a marketing team needs access to every bit of information on a customer.

When a contract comes in, it generally states a method of payment. That payment may be a credit card, debit card, ACH, or other means.

Who needs access to that information, and how does a company determine that?

Having protocols in place to keep this data safe is important.

Should managers see this data? What about team leaders? Do new employees have access to this area of the CRM? Does the marketing team need to know the financial details of a client or customer?

Every company should outline who has access to what information. 

5)   Digital Security Measures

Small businesses have plenty of cost-effective and affordable options for digital security. 

It all starts with internet security on the network and on network devices (yes, servers and routers can be hacked and rerouted). Then companies need security protocols on computers and mobile devices, as well as their cloud-based software.

Limiting access to higher functions on cloud-based systems can also prevent data breaches, in addition to digital encryption. Having one or two high-level people, who are trusted, to control access is a good policy to have.

Small businesses may need help with protecting their customer data privacy for digital marketing.

Vervology Is Here

We’re a full-service digital marketing agency that can help you create a secure website while developing a marketing strategy that protects your customers’ privacy.

Contact us to see how we can help make your digital presence a little more secure and trustworthy.