Biz Tips: Why Security Improvement is Essential for Marketers

Biz Tips: Why Security Improvement is Essential for Marketers


Why Security Improvement is Essential for Marketers

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Almost without exception, every industry should be concerned with cybersecurity. Cybersecurity attacks are getting more common, and they can have a dramatic impact on your life. Things like malware, spam emails, hacked accounts, and stolen data are all common types of attacks.

As a marketing professional, one thing you do through your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is gather and store customer data. This is a good thing. The era of big data enables website personalization, better targeted ads, and gives you a more informed picture of both your current and potential customers.

However, the security of this data is a huge concern for a number of reasons. Depending on the type of data you store, it may even increase your liability if the data is compromised. Storing credit card data for future purchases adds another layer of personalization and ease of checkout, but it comes with risks as well.

Security improvement is essential for marketers, especially as more data is gathered, stored, and used everyday. Here are several reasons why it is so important.

Developing and Keeping Brand Loyalty

Customers remember those brands that have suffered cyberattacks and this can turn into a PR nightmare depending on the scope of the attack and how your brand responds. That response will largely fall to the marketing department, and rather than working to build brand loyalty, you will be instead working to repair your brand’s reputation.

While increasing security can be costly before a data breach, the recovery afterward can be even more expensive. Nearly everyone will remember both the Target and Home Depot hacks that not only made the news but changed the way companies think about security and data isolation.

On the positive side, setting a high standard of cybersecurity and making sure your customers know what you are doing to protect their data builds brand loyalty.

  • It Builds Trust: Keeping and building your customers’ trust is vital to business success, and good cybersecurity is just one way to do that. Telling customers how you protect their data, including from things like ransomware and malware, gives them reason to trust you with their data.
  • Customers Commit: If you commit to preserve their data to the best of your ability, customers will commit to you and your brand. Leaders who make this a public priority inspire loyalty in their buyers.
  • Clients and Customers Expect It: If you do not make security the priority that your competition does, your customers will flee to them. People have come to expect data security from companies they buy from.

Want loyal customers who stick with your brand no matter what? Make cybersecurity a priority, and make sure your customers know that it is.

Legal Requirements

If you have not heard about GDPR since it went into effect in the EU last spring, you should become familiar with it right now. Why? If you have any customers in the EU, you need to be in compliance. This means if you have any customers, potential customers, or even email subscribers from the EU, technically you fall under these guidelines. What are the rules of GDPR, and what do they mean to your marketing department?

  • You are required to have consent from the user before data processing.
  • Data must be anonymized to protect privacy.
  • You must notify customers of any data breach.
  • You are required to monitor the safety of data transfers, especially across borders.
  • Certain companies must appoint a data security officer to oversee GDPR compliance.

For the most part, these are things you should be doing anyway, and whether or not you market to anyone in the EU, other countries are talking about similar legal requirements. How does this work in real campaigns and scenarios?

First, you need to have an opt-in for your email list and memberships even if they are just a box that is checked when the user completes a purchase. Verification emails are a simple way to do this. While it should be common sense, avoid adding users to your email list without their consent or merge them from other lists without them knowing about the transition. Not only can this anger them, but it can get you in legal trouble as well.

Before you process data, you need to anonymize it. This means removing anything that can be used to identify the person it is associated with, including photos, email addresses, name, physical addresses, and phone numbers. In this case, the data still remains useful to you when it comes to marketing decisions, but it means the identity of your customers is safe.

If a data breach happens, you must let your customers know, specifically if their data was stolen. This includes what data might have been compromised. You should also, like Experian after the huge attack on their system, offer the customer some kind of protection provided by your company.

Finally, in most cases avoid transferring data unless absolutely essential, but if your data must be moved, be sure the transfer process is secure. There are different protocols and steps for protecting mobile data and fixed data. Know and follow them.

Legal requirements will only get stricter regarding personal data. Be ahead of the game by implementing the best security ahead of time.

What You Can Do

How do you make sure your data is secure? Well, there are a couple of choices. You can have an in-house IT department, or you can outsource IT services. Often a company who provides this service will offer you more for your money along with additional secure cloud storage and security analysis and consulting when changes do occur.

Internal IT does give you more control over certain aspects of your data, but with that control comes responsibility too. You’ll have to weigh the cost-benefits of which one is right for you, but either way you choose there are some basic steps to better security you can take.

  • Keep your site up to date: Whether you are running WordPress or another platform, updates are generally for your security. This includes plugins, themes, and the version of your site platform.
  • Change login names: Don’t use common things like admin, as that makes things easier to hack. Use variations of your name, and even a seperate profile to write articles when you blog.
  • Use long, secure passwords: Use a password generator if you must, but make your password a confusing one that is hard to guess. Twelve to 20 characters is best.
  • Enable two-step verification: This means you will need a code from one of your devices every time you login, but you can do this from your smartwatch, phone, or even computer.
  • Delete old users, plugins, and themes: If you are not using something, get rid of it. Your site will be much less vulnerable.

Security is vital for every single industry, and the more active role you take, the more customer loyalty you will build, and the more likely you will be to be in compliance before you are legally compelled to follow certain rules.

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