Ask any marketing professional what holds the key to successful marketing in 2019 and into the next five years and they will all say data. In particular, it’s the use of data to create personalised services, products and messages, and as such improve segmentation.

How companies use our data has always seemed like voodoo. In the past it’s been a challenge to keep up with one company’s policy versus another. And it’s always seemed quite a complex psychology - we don’t like the intrusion of marketing and know we should be careful, yet data policies get in the way of buying things. Clicking the accept button is easy to do and means you can get on with your day sooner.

So, in some ways GDPR has been a blessing for consumers caught up in the minefield. It’s helped to highlight the risks of misuse to consumers, and also helped to regulate improper use by companies. It’s a good step to have taken – and I say that as a marketeer who has had the challenge of encouraging a different approach to a marketing strategy to stay compliant. The fact that the first steps are being taken in the US with The California Consumer Privacy Act only underlines that there is no going back.

Of course, proper use of data is one thing. Protecting it is quite another. And according to our research 52% of execs in Europe experienced a self-reported a GDPR incident in the last year. There’s clearly pressure on the board to keep up, to the extent that 72% say discussing data security is now a regular topic at board meetings.

It’s easy to see why when the four main business impacts of a security incident are customer loss, brand reputation loss, revenue loss and operational loss. What’s more it takes around £100,000 to win customers back after a breech, with a 30% churn to be expected. That’s the sort of figure that makes CMOs shudder.

It might explain why, for the first time, we’re seeing data being used for a totally new form of marketing message and that’s security. Companies are now introducing products that help customers feel safe when using their brand. IT complements the huge digital transformation programmes they are undergoing, putting more service and products online and available through apps.

In fact, 75% of executives report that security is now a key part of their marketing message. Companies are creating dedicated security products and services for their customers, and offering security features as add-ons, or building security services into their products.

That’s quite a dramatic shift. We’ve gone from shouting very loudly that the board needs to be talking about security to it not only being talked about but being used to sell products.

However, speaking to other marketeers, they now not only have the problem of staying GDPR compliant, they also have the added pressure of ensuring the message of security is watertight. The CMO and CIO have been brought closed together once again.

Now they are fighting the need to keep data safe so they can mine it and use it to build new services, as there really is no point is investing in data management if it’s not secure, yet now they have to ensure the security add-ons are secure too.

It’s detrimental to success. You just need to look at the expectations of millennials. They now make buying decisions based on security – it’s a number one priority for them, especially in banking, and they can’t see why other industries that use their data can’t achieve the same levels of security. Indeed, just as they won’t come to your brand unless there’s assured security, they certainly won’t stay if it’s broken.

Loyalty and security are now inextricably linked. There is now wider recognition that the data being collected to help improve company revenue across digital channels has to be protected. Every data channel has to be secure, and as data in the company grows in volume so too does the risk of it being compromised either by a mistake internally or an external hack.

Information security has often been seen as an expense. Now it’s a necessity and a business driver. But while some companies are pioneering the security message others will still be finding their way. If you’re in this second boat then it’s well worth asking your customers what they expect and want when it comes to security. That will help you work out what has to change in the company DNA to deliver on expectation.

As part of this you can also share what you are doing – you’ll be surprised what little customers know and how you can win them over with just your basic hygiene practices.

However, basics might not be enough for some customers (like those millennials we mentioned). Instead consider how you can develop secure products and services, and how can you empower them to protect their privacy. Afterall, you can only do so much, sharing a password is something you can’t do anything about but you can help educate them.

All this will help you work out how you talk to your customers about security too. You might not want to be talking about it to the same extent a brand like Apple is. That really might not suit you, but it doesn’t mean you should avoid it. You can find a way that’s right for your brand and its tone of voice. And frankly customers will soon start to expect it if your competition and other sectors your consumers shop with start to accelerate their message.

While legislation might have hampered your marketing efforts in the last year. Take heart that data security could be a way to improve them in the future. There is certainly merit – operationally and financially from doing it and it seems the time to start making the change is now.


Written by Anna Convery-Pelletier, CMO, Radware

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