How to Protect Customer Data Privacy in Digital Marketing

Ming Lagman

August 6, 2021

Protecting customer data privacy online should precede all your strategies.

Between safeguarding customer data privacy and hyper-personalization of audience experience, you can’t quite argue against the fact that modern digital marketing has become more complicated than before. And this is mainly because the two concepts represent two sides of the same coin in digital marketing.

On one side, you have the task of delivering customized consumer experiences – a process that’s reliant on comprehensive consumer data. On the other, you have to limit the collection of your customers’ data on top of ensuring that you don’t mishandle nor exploit the information they give you.

As data-driven digital marketing professionals, that means your task doesn’t just involve creating crisp, insight-driven, creative campaigns anymore. It also means that you’ll have to put in place specific measures that regulate the gathering, use, and storing of your customers’ data.

But with so much of your campaigns riding on the data-driven insights about your audiences, how do you consistently execute this balancing act flawlessly and with the agility that the digital playing field demands? Moreover, how can businesses and not just marketing departments, make sure that customer data privacy is always upheld?

Enter us: a veteran digital marketing company with deep and extensive industry experience and refined processes, with digital marketing strategy frameworks that ensure you deliver on both expectations.

What is customer data privacy?

But what is data privacy and why is it important to protect your and others’ data, should you acquire them?

Broadly speaking, data privacy is a branch of data security that concerns itself with the proper handling of data. This covers consent, notice, and regulatory obligations that prevent the misuse and/or mishandling of data.

In general, data privacy and its safeguarding entails the crafting of policies and process that ensure:

  1. Legal and ethical collection of data,
  2. How data is collected and shared with third parties, and;
  3. Regulations and restrictions around the handling of data and information.

So if you zoom in to the customer data privacy specifically, you can guess that it’s data privacy – its collection, handling, and regulation – concerning individuals who transact with a business.

These transactions are anything from customer service inquiries, to sales and marketing surveys, or other activities that require these individuals to share their information with your business.

Wait. That still doesn’t answer why you should care as a small business, right? To answer that, you can read the next sections on why everyone on the internet is cautious about the information they share, and why you should take data protection more seriously.

Why it’s important to protect customer data privacy

It’s evident that the internet as we know it today is more powerful than ever. Today, the internet allows information exchanges to happen in a matter of seconds. But the main problem this rapid exchange of ubiquitous information poses is that safety isn’t guaranteed.

We know this to be true because of the many data breach scandals that happened in the past decade – not excluding, and sometimes even headlined by the biggest online companies. And as the issues pile on top of each other, actions to remedy or avoid these issues seem to be insufficient. So you shouldn’t really be surprised that, in response to these concerns, customers would be more cautious about sharing their data. Cautious to a point that they are even willing to withhold information that internet apps and companies collect to personalize their browsing experience; because they’ve lost their trust.

That trust – whether in a small or big company – is something that you should never lose, else lose customers that will support your business.

Now, as a small business operating in the Philippines, you may wonder: how can you better protect your customers’ data privacy? Simple. Just let the proper regulatory laws guide you.

How you can protect customer data privacy

Big or small companies alike can follow these simple steps to better protect their customers’ personal information online.

  1. Educate yourself about governing laws.
  2. Allow them to opt in or out of data collection.
  3. Practice transparency always.
  4. Strengthen your website’s safeguards against data hacks.
  5. Advocate for customer data privacy protection.

1. Educate yourself about governing laws.

In the Philippines, the Data Privacy Act of 2012 is one of the cornerstone legislations that aim to protect the personal information of individuals on and off the internet. This law outlines our local regulatory measures for the collection, storage, use, and sharing of personal information. It also details other information like penalizing actions and fines for violators.

Below are the general data privacy principles and criteria for lawful processing of information that should guide your data processing for businesses. Let these serve as data privacy policy templates to guide you in practicing it in your organizations.

data privacy policy template philippines

Figure 1.1 Guiding Principles for Data Processing. Make sure to keep this principles in mind whenever seeking to process the customer information you’ve collected and stored. Photo by Propelrr.

Criteria for Lawful Processing of Information
Figure 1.2. Lawful Information Processing. Any prospects of processing personal information provided an entity should meet these above outlined criteria. Pushing through with information processing that doesn’t meet all the items in this criteria will warrant a sanction deemed suitable by the law. Photo by Propelrr.

2. Allow them to opt in or out of data collection.

Data collection should also be completely optional. While forms are important for generating leads, and you would like to get as much relevant information as possible, you should let your customers choose to share only what they are willing to.

You can do this by indicating form fields that are optional and required for identification and attribution of the data to the customer. If you’re a retail business and need your customer to fill out an order form, think about what details you will need to complete the transaction.

We can imagine you’d just need the details pertinent to the delivery of your products to their doorstep. So you can program the input fields for their name, address and contact number as required ones. Meanwhile, details that are irrelevant to completing the purchase should be programmed as optional fields, or not added as fields, if possible.

3. Practice transparency always.

Nothing wins trust more effectively than transparency.

For whatever reason you’re collecting information from your customers, always make sure to communicate those clearly. After all, anything you’re not willing to shed light onto is something that may sow doubt in your community’s minds.

A quick way to do this is through inserting fine print right below your forms, or anywhere on the page where the form exists. It doesn’t have to be completely detailed, but should quickly tell your visitors why you need the information.

Our own contact form on the Propelrr website, for example, provides a quick spiel on what we use your information for, just before you continue to submit it.

Propelrr website contact form

Figure 2.1. Propelrr Contact Form. As you can see, the form also asks for the least amount of information as possible, too. Doing so adheres not just to the requirements outlined in the Data Privacy Act of 2012, but it also provides a better experience for visitors.

On top of being compliant with the requirements of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, our forms also follow basic principles for designing forms. This allows us to craft thoughtfully designed forms that provide user-friendly experiences and effectively generate leads for your business.

4. Strengthen your website’s safeguards against data hacks.

Now, as a small business, the idea of reinforcing your websites may sound intimidating, because they may entail a cost you’re not prepared to pay.

But in truth, there are simple reinforcements you can implement, such as availing of web hosting services that provide guarantee compliance with PCI, SSL, fraud protection, and data backups on the e-commerce website. You can also guarantee stronger security with the simple act of keeping your websites updated.

If you’re not sure about the technical aspects, you can always pair up with a trusted website development company that can make sure to tick off all the items on your website security checklist.

5. Advocate for customer data privacy protection.

Finally, you should advocate for customer data privacy protection, in and beyond your company.

If you’re partnering with a website development company, make sure to do a background check on how they practice customer data privacy protection. If they have little to share about their insights on data privacy and protection, then that should ring some alarm bells for you.

In your own organizations, instill a culture that encourages respect for the privacy of your consumers and employees. This lets your customers know that you value their privacy and that they can entrust you with their data.

But remember: the best form of advocacy is seen in action. Back your statements with observable and measurable actions always. At Propelrr, we are committed to protecting the privacy of all our stakeholders, and to ensure that, whatever the design requirements of our clients, we beef up every step with security measures.

Key takeaways

Data privacy protection has become a non-negotiable aspect of any company’s process in this information-driven online environment. Along with the benefits the internet offers us are the growing threats that may compromise the safety of your business and clients.

As you seek to strengthen your efforts to safeguarding the data privacy of your stakeholders, remember that:

  • Trust is won only through transparency and accountability. Whatever statement you say or action you do, must be trackable and observable. If you have something to hide, you’re signaling to people that there is something that isn’t trustworthy in your processes. Uphold transparency and accountability at all times.
  • Customers that trust are the first to convert. Today’s online audiences value trust and authenticity more than ever. They value it so much that they will not convert unless they find something they connect with or believe in with your brand and business. Forming and nurturing this trust will prove to be valuable for your business not just in the short-term, but long-term as well.
  • Advocate and take action. Data privacy protection is a tired issue with many empty promises for improvement from companies. The best way to convince audiences of your support and advocacy for data privacy protection is through action. Be proactive and uncompromising in your thrust towards providing safer online experiences for your customers.

Care to continue the conversation on customer data privacy protection? We’d love to learn from you as well how to provide safer experiences for our clients. Sound off in the comments with your company’s best practices, or chat us up on Facebook, X or LinkedIn.