Client Data and Compliance—GDPR
GDPR, more than anything, is about giving data subjects more rights. Your customers now have the right to ask you to ask for copies of their data, or ask you to change and delete your records on them— and you have the duty to comply. Naturally, not every single data subject in your database is going to pose a problem for you; in fact, the majority don’t care about anything other than the security of their personal data. But if your data collection process isn’t up to scratch— and a big chunk of the data you have on customers is wrong— you’re not just compromising your own marketing efforts, you’re opening yourself up to a whole host of problems.
If data subjects are continually getting in touch to ask you to modify or delete your data, and you don’t have an effective data management protocol in place, you’re setting yourself up for a potential breach of GDPR. Why? Because you have to deal with their requests in a timely manner. Now, what exactly ‘timely’ means isn’t clear-- but you’re better safe than sorry.
Why Might Data Be Inaccurate?
Your customer data is never going to be 100% accurate. Here are the main reasons why.
Incomplete data: depending on how you validate your sign-up form, your customers may have left out or only partially completed certain sections. Or you may have changed your sign-up form, in which case those who signed up first may not have provided as much data on themselves as later cohorts.
Out-of-date data: If your business was established a while back, there’s every chance that your data subjects could have moved house or changed name since they first signed up. This could leave you lumping them into the wrong geographic marketing campaign.
Problems with data storage: if your contact form isn’t coded right, you can ‘enjoy’ a number of problems with how your data is stored: information under the wrong heading, data occasionally not being properly sent to your server and more. These problems are easy to spot, but there’s the possibility that when you correct them, some records remain incorrect or incomplete.
Client Data and Effective Marketing
Aside from compliance, you also have to think about how much data inaccuracy damages your marketing strategies. Take email segmentation as an example (and for more information on effective email segmentation, check out another of our guides here[LINK HERE]). For email segmentation to be truly effective, you have to know that your segments are, well, accurate— there’s no use spending time creating email and newsletter templates and filling them with varied content if they’re not going to the right data subjects.
Inaccurate or incomplete data also prevents businesses from being able to effectively analyse their target markets. Say that your business ran two generic email marketing campaigns, one of which failed, and one of which succeeded; it would be so useful to be able to break down using demographic analysis exactly why one worked while the other didn’t, but with incorrect data, it’s just not that easy.
How to Make Sure Your Data Is Accurate
If you’re looking to make sure your customer data is as accurate as possible, there are three key things we have to look at: initial data collection, data storage, and the collection of more data from our customers further down the line.
By far the most important thing you can do is to set up your data entry form/s with proper validation. If you aren’t computer-minded, validation is where a web page checks that data is appropriate/in the correct format before saving it in a database. Think of when you try to sign up for something, and the form requires that you enter your email address in the correct format (with an @ sign, and with a .com or .co.uk at the end). You can also set them up so that they reject blank entries, that an answer is roughly the right length, or that the answer is in the right format (letters, numbers, dates etc.) It’s also important to review your data collection methods now for the sake of compliance; GDPR makes it necessary to make your data more secure than ever.
Manually Reviewing Your Data
Manually reviewing your data, depending on the size of your database, is your next option. If you’ve never used one, you might not know that this is one of the benefits of using CRM software. CRM software lets you search through and edit your email lists and data subject records. Let’s say you want to make sure customer addresses are formatted properly— because Berkshire could be ‘Berks.’, or Leicestershire could be ‘LEICESTERSHIRE’. Using a CRM, you can quickly search for inaccurate, poorly formatted or incomplete data and edit it in any way you see fit.
By now you should understand that data privacy and data accuracy are going to be more important than ever post-GDPR. But just because multinationals are spending billions (literally billions!) on compliance, that doesn’t mean that you’re facing an impossible task as a small business. CRM software is great for bulk-editing data, approaching data subjects for more information, and can even speed up your data handling processes-- so you should make it the cornerstone of your approach to compliance!