Why data security is now key to successful promotional marketing, and how to achieving it
Why data security is now key to successful promotional marketing, and how to achieving it

Every business craves security. Whether it's in the form of a healthy balance sheet or long-term contracts, security is imperative to building a sustainable framework that enables growth and future success. The digital revolution, which has led to the development of new customer engagement channels and the well-documented data explosion, has now forced businesses to consider security from a new perspective.

Whilst the technological developments have undeniably brought more opportunities for brands to interact with customers, and to do so across multiple channels, it has also created fresh challenges. Procedures to avoid security breaches and prevent data leakage, both on the small and much larger scale, need to be put in place if the new opportunities to engage the customer are going to be capitalised on.

Promotional marketing, in particular, has been transformed by the proliferation of data; enabling brands to interact with existing and new customer sets like never before and truly enhance the experience for each individual. With successful marketing strategies now resting on gaining a deeper understanding of the customer, brands cannot afford to ignore the security considerations that come with handling vast amounts of data. Like any relationship, establishing trust is a large part of this. If customers are going to part with their data, they want to know that it's going to be in safe hands.

Channel 4 is an example of how brands can address the security issue upfront and build a compelling sales message around it. Through the ‘Viewer Promise' video on the website, the brand explains the benefits in customers sharing their personal data – to enable an experience that's more targeted and relevant to them. However, it's also very clear about how, when and why this data is used. This creates trust between the brand and user, reassures them that processes are in place to ensure their data is secure and provides a valid reason for them to engage. A clever way to tackle a complex issue, which Channel 4 is likely to be rewarded for.

Whether customers are speaking with a consultant in a call centre, sending off for a free gift for an on-pack-promotion or ordering and paying for a product via a website, all these channels involve an exchange of data and can give brands the ability to deliver a more positive experience for that individual in the future. However, brands must ensure that the data throughout all their promotional marketing activity is held securely; and in today's multi-channel environment this more important than ever. Where possible, brands should be looking for marketing partners that will enable them to hold data centrally. This not only enables them to deliver a more streamlined experience, but also minimises the risk of data leakage. Failure to do so will put the integrity and reputation of the brand at risk, and is unlikely to encourage customer or prospects to interact and purchase from them in the future.

Personal data security couldn't be more important and there are plenty of opportunities to improve the industry's handling of personal data through accreditations and the sharing of best practice. Accreditations such as ISO 27001 are a great way for firms managing large amounts of customer data to demonstrate and prove robust data protection. With data security so high on the agenda, any brands looking to grow their business should be choosing a promotional marketing partner that can offer this level of security, which indicates consistently safe, reliable and professional handling of all client data.

As with everything in today's evolving world, it's vital to remain up to date. Through undertaking regular audits of processes in place and maintenance to improve where required, businesses will be able to continue to meet customer expectations in terms of the experience they are delivering and security they are providing. The technological developments in recent years have shown the industry how quickly things can change, so brands cannot become complacent, particularly where data security is concerned.

Promotional marketing has been given a new lease of life as a result of digitalisation and customer data, but brands must ensure they have the right processes in place if they are going to make the most of this. Data offers valuable opportunities to significantly grow the customer base through multi-channel promotional marketing activity. Promotional marketers now fulfil the role as brand guardians and there's nothing more important than the security of customer data or the reputation of the business.

Contributed by Jo Varey, managing director, Granby Marketing Services