Data 101: What You Can Do Today to Improve Your Organisation’s Data

We all know clean and reliable data is critical to any high-performing organisation. Good data improves customer relationships, drives more effective marketing campaigns, and contributes to accurate pipeline management. However, to many organisations, data management can feel overwhelming.

We asked our very own William Zhang, Senior Account Executive, and Andrew Fragias, Product Manager and Certified Salesforce Admin, to sit down with us and talk about the many things you can be doing to ensure your organisation’s data is of high quality.

You can watch the full webinar below to discover all the tips and tricks they shared, but here are a few key points to get you started:

  • Andrew explained what data discrepancies are and how they can affect your database.
  • We discussed an outline of the best plan of attack to clean your data, including how to prioritise the process for the greatest impact.
  • We reviewed some of the key mistakes that can be made when applying data corrections, how they impact organisations, and how you can avoid them.

Plus, Andrew demonstrated how easy it is to implement some of these business-critical data changes. To get the full details on how to ensure your organisation’s data is clean and reliable, check out the full webinar now:

To learn more about how to improve your data quality, reach out to us today to set up a demo.

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Top 4 Reasons GridBuddy Cloud is the Most Productive User Experience for CRM

Let’s face it, terms like data unification, data quality, and data analysis cause most people to run in fear. Actually, putting “data” before any word can make the most innocent thing sound menacing. 

Why is that?  

It’s because the options we have for working with data consume a lot of time and focus and ware expected to be precise, timely, and accurate when updating recordsIt’s a tall order, and it requires organizations to implement tools that quicken data navigation and make data modifications happen as if they’re second nature.  

GridBuddy Cloud can help. It’s our solution for unifying data by connecting records from separate data into one view, making analysis across systems possible. Why is that important? Here are the top four reasons you should be adding GridBuddy Cloud to your tech stack. 

  1. Most business systems were designed around the business, not the end user.

    The most problematic part of using a CRM or any business system is jumping from record to record, screen to screen, or browser tab to browser tab to view all the data needed for customer engagements. Since it’s difficult to enter information accurately when youre surfing between so many screens, attempting to modify or create new records in this capacity only leaves room for poor quality data to be entered. GridBuddy Cloud grids make it possible to work with specific pieces of information across one or more systems in a single, editable view. Imagine being able to reference and modify account, contact, and opportunity information for all your open deals in one Excel-like interface. 

  2. Different roles require different workspaces. 

    We know sales and service teams fulfill separate purposesThey rely on some of the same information in your databases, like account and contact details, but how and when it’s used differs. Sales is focused on leads and opportunities while service is zeroed in on cases, so trying to make them function in the same workspace because of how your databases are configured doesn’t make much sense. It also leaves users guessing which fields are for them to manage. GridBuddy Cloud role-based workspaces ensure the right information is front and center for each user based on their goals and responsibilities for frictionless, focused work. 

  3. Increased productivity should come with less effort. 

    Most pieces of technology implemented for your teams use come with the promise of increased productivity. My question to this claim is always, does this productivity boost come with more or less effort? With GridBuddy Cloud, it’s definitely the latter. In addition to its spreadsheet-style arrangement of data and role-based workspacesthe out-of-the-box ReadyGrids address common sales and service use cases for an immediate increase in productivity. Couple that with their ability to be customized and you’ve got yourself a productivity powerhouse. 

  4. No more rushed data migrations. 

    I know more than a few of us have encountered the chaos of acquisitions. When you welcome a new organization into your own, you’re also inheriting their databases. Cue the mad dash and hair pulling of the IT team as they plan how long it will take to clean up and migrate business system data. With GridBuddy Cloud, you give everyone breathing room to adjust to the new normal and migrate data in a way that supports the business instead of stressing it. Because GridBuddy Cloud aggregates data from multiple systems into one user-centric interface, end users can continue to focus on their goals and IT teams can strategize without halting current business processes. 

Improving your teams’ productivity, data quality, and adoption doesn’t have to be a challenge. Bridge the gap between your data sources with GridBuddy Cloud. Find out more here.

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Data is Not a Dirty Word

Data is the oxygen that powers business today. It underlies everything we need to do to run a healthy business.

As we all know, there are many challenges and success drivers in data strategy. We got some of our data thought leaders to join Tunc Bolluk for a discussion about the role of data across business, the importance of data quality in your CRM, and what you can do today to improve your data quality.

Here are a few of the key takeaways Guy Hanson and Andrew Fragias shared:

  • When being examined, data quality should be viewed through the lenses of the 3Cs: Compliance, Correctness, and Completeness.
  • Guy Hanson discussed the trend of organisations moving to customer data platforms (CDPs), which begs the question: Do CRMs or CDPs do a better job when it comes to data quality?
  • Two of the top four data quality KPIs are financial: revenue and conversion rates. While they don’t measure data quality directly, they do act as indicators to help businesses understand if their data is complete and if they are successfully engaging and converting their customers.
  • Andrew Fragias walked us through the 3Cs from a Salesforce Admin’s point of view, explaining where problems can arise and how you can fix them.

The group also shared examples of best practices and discussed some of the findings from the recently published report Email Data Quality: Compliant, Correct, Complete. Check out the full webinar below:

 

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Why Email Data Quality Matters: Excellence from Expedia

Our February 16 webinar on “Why Email Data Quality Matters” featured special guests Dan Goran from Expedia Group, plus Tim Bond from the Data & Marketing Association and Kate Barrett from eFocus Marketing. We reviewed key findings from our brand-new report, and discussed the critical importance of good data for building strong relationships and effective tactics for achieving this.

Key talking points included:

  • Business Critical: Data needs to be compliant, correct, and complete for businesses to fully understand their customers. It’s the foundation of everything for businesses, and underpinned by how accurate the data you collect is, and whether you can rely on it.
  • Which Platform1: The platform used by businesses to house their customer data provides clear pointers to their philosophy on data quality. Email service provider (ESP) users are highly focused on bounce log analysis, CRM users rely on legal compliance as their top data quality tactic, while customer data platform (CDPs) users evaluate engagement as their preferred data quality KPI.
1. See my blogs where we review these trends in more detail: CReaM of the Crop and Rise of the CDP.
  • Opportunity Costs: Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is ± £30 ($42), which brings the importance of data quality into sharper focus. Tactics like point of collection validation pay for themselves almost immediately when considered against a context of wasted CPA.
  • When to Say Goodbye: Just over half of businesses report having rules in place for identifying inactive/dormant customers, yet being able to do so—and taking the correct actions when this happens— has a major impact on customer lifetime value (CLV).

Dan summed it up beautifully with an analogy likening data quality to Warren Buffet’s investment strategy. Success can take 20 years to build, and five minutes to destroy. Silent, slow, and steadily decreasing performance is one of the biggest challenges for marketers. You can easily ruin the reputation you’ve worked hard to build with one moment of bad personalisation or irrelevant messaging. This is why building a “single source of truth” of your customers is key, and communicating this to senior leadership is vital to securing more budget.

This only scratches the surface, and our expert guests covered a broad range of insightful talking points. Which data challenges are most prevalent and how can they be fixed? Why does good data underpin great personalisation? How has data helped the travel industry survive the pandemic by focusing on loyalty and relationships? How do consumers think about the personal data they provide to marketers, and if you could ask them for one more piece of data, what would it be?

It’s all here in the video, plus plenty more. Grab a coffee, put on your headphones, and get ready to receive some high-quality data of your own!

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Data Quality: The CReaM of the Crop

In Validity’s State of CRM Data Management report, 44% of businesses estimate poor quality data can mean losses of 5% to more than 20% in revenue. A vicious cycle develops, with lack of trust in the data reducing CRM adoption, which in turn drives down productivity.

The report also considers positive factors—for businesses managing data quality really well, full-time responsibility of a cross-functional team is a regular underlying theme. An obvious example is marketing, which has evolved into a primarily data-driven function, with many companies now hiring marketing technologists to combine IT and marketing skills to deliver high-performing programs.

Of course, marketing technology is powered by data, which poses questions around how marketers think about their data quality, and how it impacts the effectiveness of their programs. To learn more, we’ve collaborated with the DMA to conduct new research, with thought-provoking results:

  • The majority of marketers monitor their data quality (77%) and have KPIs for this (61%).
  • Most have defined budget for data quality (84%), usually as part of their marketing budgets (51%). It’s a significant allocation too, at between 16-23% of the total budget.
  • However, only 14% consider their data quality practices to be “excellent” when measured against established practices, while 33% report themselves as “average” or “poor”.

The type of data platform being used reflects differing approaches to data quality. Here’s the breakdown.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system: 53%
  • Email Service Provider (ESP) platform: 50%
  • Customer Data Platform (CDP): 33%
  • Note: These responses aren’t mutually exclusive – businesses could be using two or even all three of the solutions in conjunction with each other. Read our article on the “Rise of the CDP” here.

CRMs remain the most popular solution, and names like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho, HubSpot, and SAP Sales Cloud are recognised around the world. When it comes to data quality, there are specific trends we see from these users.

  • More Likely to Monitor Data Quality: 84% of CRM users monitor their data quality (1.1X higher than the report benchmark), and 72% have data quality KPIs (1.5X higher). The size of investment in these solutions means this isn’t surprising. One new client has spent the past two years preparing his data for migration into their new CRM platform. In his own words, ”We absolutely didn’t want to populate it with bad data!”
  • Data Acquisition: Businesses using CRMs are more likely to source new customers from “In-person/Virtual events” (44%—1.3X higher). In UK/Europe, e-receipts (from in-store shopping) are now the single biggest driver of acquisition, and the ability of CRMs to integrate with point-of-sale (POS) solutions means these businesses are well placed to harness this opportunity.
  • Compliance: ”Compliance with legislation and industry standards” is more likely to be reported by CRM users as a data quality best practice (51%—1.2X higher). Data governance will be strongly enforced at these businesses, but it also reflects a degree of pragmatism. GDPR effectively wrote many established data best practices into law, and DMA analysis shows 68% of marketers have reported increased conversions since then.
  • Customer Engagement: “Engagement rates” (37%) and “Conversion rates” (31%) are commonly reported as data quality metrics by CRM users. They understand the relationship between good data and responsive customers, and that data needs to be correct and complete. CRMs are more likely to collect additional data like demographics and interests, building a fuller picture of their customers enabling more accurate targeting, and greater relevance.
  • Return on Investment: Unsurprisingly, CRM users report better average Return on Investment (ROI) from their programs (1.1X higher). Their strong focus on data, ability to generate greater responsiveness from prospects and customers, and accuracy in calculating important financial outcomes like CPA and LTV means these businesses are well-positioned to maximise their ROI.

We also couldn’t help noticing CRM users are significantly more likely to use “Deliverability monitoring/3rd-party solutions” as part of their programs (32%—1.5X higher than benchmark). These businesses invest significantly in best-of-breed solutions like Validity’s DemandTools suite to deliver their data quality objectives, and our Everest email success platform to measure and fine-tune program performance.

These businesses understand great data builds great relationships, and they are clear on the benefits they gain from this. Want to be like them? Contact us today to learn more.

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Email Data Quality: The Rise of the CDP

In our new report “Email Data Quality: Compliant, Correct & Complete,” we viewed data quality practices through the lens of what type of data platform was being used. We asked marketers, “Where does your organisation currently store customer and email data?” They responded:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system: 53%
  • Email Service Provider (ESP) platform: 50%
  • Customer Data Platform (CDP): 33%
    Note: These responses aren’t mutually exclusive – businesses could be using two or even all three of the solutions in conjunction with each other.

The scale of the CDP response stood out to us. While this approach to managing customer data is not brand new, it’s been on the periphery of marketing conscience—but not anymore!

What is a CDP?

According to Gartner, customer data platforms evolved from a variety of mature markets, including multi-channel campaign management, tag management, and data integration. Wikipedia provides a good definition:

A collection of software which creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems. Data is pulled from multiple sources, cleaned and combined to create a single customer profile. This structured data is then made available to other marketing systems.

At the risk of massive over-simplification, the CDP is a solution enabling businesses to get all their customer data “under one roof,” while also allowing the definition of customer data to evolve. CDPs are built to handle multiple data points from many sources. They collect both online and offline customer data, and could include anonymous visitors as well as personalised, specific customer identifiers.

There are already many established vendors in the CDP space, and G2’s excellent summary lists well-known names including Exponea, Emarsys, Listrak, Tealium, Optimove, and Salesforce Interaction Studio (among others). Users of these platforms clearly understand the important relationship between data and technology. Recent analysis showed Emarsys customers who also use Validity’s Certification allow-list see average open rate uplifts of 28% and click-rate uplifts of 35%.

Armed with this understanding, there’s an implicit assumption CDP users are more sophisticated when it comes to managing their customer data, thinking of it as a business asset, and looking to maximise their return on investment. The report supports this view:

Businesses using CDPs are significantly more likely to use double opt-in as their email permissioning model (1.5X higher than the benchmark response). They are also more likely to use real-time validation tools like BriteVerify (1.7X higher). Having made a significant investment in their customer data capabilities, CDP users are strongly focused on populating their platforms with high quality data.

Use of preference centres is an extremely important part of CDP users’ toolkits for customer data collection (1.6X higher). This highlights the value of progressive registration – re-visiting customers regularly to learn more about their needs and interests, then using this to craft relevant content and offers.

Even more importantly, CDP users actually harness this data to drive their communications. Remember the core GDPR principle of “minimisation.” In short, don’t collect anything you’re not going to use! Use of subscriber preferences to drive customer segmentation is 1.5X greater from these respondents.

This also informs how CDP users measure data quality, with use of “engagement” as a primary key performance indicator (KPI) almost 10% more likely. These businesses intuitively know declines in engagement may have poor data quality at their root, and appreciate the importance of this metric.

Because these businesses have such a strong handle on their data, they are better positioned to measure the financial impact of their data-driven marketing. CDP users’ ability to calculate email cost per acquisition (CPA) is 1.15X higher, while ability to calculate return on investment (ROI) is 1.2X higher.

What does this mean for marketing effectiveness? Since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives, businesses have been rethinking the way they communicate with customers. As the recent DMA awards highlighted, being able to use high quality customer data to implement these shifts authentically and credibly is vital. The additional breadth and depth of customer data CDP users have unquestionably put them in pole position when dealing with this challenge.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our next webinar, when we’ll consider the rise of the CDP, plus many other fascinating data quality insights, with expert guests Tim Bond (Data & Marketing Association) and Kate Barrett (eFocus Marketing).

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Email Data Quality: Compliant, Correct, Complete

Validity and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) recently published the ”Email Data Quality: Compliant, Correct, and Complete” report. It highlights how important most marketers consider data quality and its three core tenets of compliance, correctness, and completeness.

We talk about data being the new oxygen, and a vital part of our industry. Without it, marketers would not be able to understand their customers, nor engage with them. It’s reassuring to see most companies understand this, but there are also clear opportunities for improvement, as the following findings demonstrate:

  • Most businesses monitor their data quality (77% of respondents)
  • The use of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure data quality is also reasonably common (61%)
  • But only two-thirds (67%) rate their data quality as good compared to industry best practice.

This last point carries real costs. The report calculates Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) at ± £29, which places the impact of poor data quality in stark relief. In the UK, a typical medium-sized business generates ± £20m of annual revenue and average profit margins of 12%, according to UK Government statistics. For these companies, bad data is a £1m problem that erodes profitability by as much as 33%. For big businesses, the cost can be much greater.

This holds especially true as use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) grows. While AI has driven spam filtering and fraud prevention solutions for a while, it’s increasingly being used for tasks like content selection, engagement prediction, and journey mapping. But around four-fifths of businesses running AI projects encounter problems with data quality, with primary issues including not enough data, data not in a usable form, and bias or errors in the data.

The report also contains plenty of good news. During the past year, marketing underwent a transformation as businesses adapted to major changes in their customers’ working practices and personal situations. The COVID-19 pandemic drove big changes in promotional strategy, meaning updated content and new tones of voice – a rapid evolution in personalisation. Having complete data to achieve this credibly and authentically has never been more important.

Because of this, marketers are focusing on techniques that build this additional layer of personalisation-rich insights. The report shows more data is being collected about customers’ location, product interests, and channel preferences, and this data is being collected across the customer lifecycle: at point of sign-up, through progressive profiling, and the use of preference centres.

This is reflected in a standout theme from this report—the rise of the Customer Data Platform (CDPs). CDPs create a unified customer database, cleaning and combining data from multiple sources into a structured format for use by other marketing systems, meaning richer data. The report shows CDP users are far more likely to use preference centres as part of their data acquisition strategy, and to segment/personalise based on subscriber interests. Customer engagement is seen as a direct function of data quality, and their ability to calculate cost-per-acquisition, return on investment, and customer lifetime value is significantly higher.

All-too-often, data quality is a classic case of not knowing what you don’t know, which is why the findings in this report are so important. It surfaces what’s important when it comes to the “3Cs” of data quality: compliance; correctness; and completeness, and provides a benchmark of what stage your data quality journey has reached, as well as identifying opportunities for improvement.

At Validity, this is a topic close to our hearts. Around the world, we’re the most trusted name in customer data quality, and thousands of organisations rely on Validity solutions like Everest and DemandTools to manage their customer data and make confident decisions that drive more leads, sell more products, and deliver continued growth.

Want to learn more? Join us for our next webinar on February 16, when we’ll review the report in detail, and hear from our expert panel on how to apply the most important learnings to enhance your data quality strategy.

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Data in Sight: A New Horizon

Validity likes data. Validity might even love data. Olivia Hinkle, senior product marketing manager for DemandTools and Gridbuddy Cloud, surely loves data, which is why she’s the regular host of Validity’s Data in Sight webinar series! In our January edition, Olivia welcomed two data quality and CRM management powerhouses: Corbin Neike, senior Salesforce administrator at 84.51˚, and Branden Bellanca, director, consulting expert, at CGI.

While the full webinar is embedded below, here’s a few can’t-miss highlights to give a sense of the wealth of knowledge shared, to prove the webinar is beyond worthy of 45 minutes of your time.

To encourage adoption, get leadership buy-in early.

Your CRM isn’t going to use itself! Unless it does, then please share your secrets. Anyway, it’s incredibly important to ensure there is consensus and belief in the software and the process at all levels of the organization. To find your strongest advocates, get leadership to champion and support your efforts to promote CRM usage cross-functionally. They’ll relay what their teams’ day-to-day looks like and will help you identify where their teams will benefit by using a CRM. When you know what their needs are, you can find a system to increase users’ productivity, and leaders will feel invested in its success. Plus, the fact is…it’s hard to say no when your boss’s boss wants you do to it, right?

End user impact should guide all governance decisions.

Don’t forget the little people! Except in this case, they’re definitely not little; end users are some of the most important figures in your data quality and CRM goals. As you consider your governance plan, think about whether end users will find the decision positive, if it will negatively impact their process, whether it will help or hinder CRM adoption, and so on.

And data governance is not as negative as it sounds. It’s like checks and balances for your CRM, so when you include people who can articulate the needs of all the people using the system, the dedicated data governance team can promote adoption, lessen technical debt, and increase your CRM return on investment. Wins all around.

Minimize creating technical debt.

Debt is bad. No one likes debt, of any kind. So, when you’re managing your CRM data, you want as little technical debt as possible. Do this by documenting every process and flow, so you know what each field is used for, the purpose of each process and flow and why certain development decisions were made. And, for the times when you can’t avoid the tech debt, it helps you create a future plan to fix it. This is probably 3% of everything they covered in this webinar, so check it out below!

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Don’t Wait Until Spring to Clean Up: Two Must-Do Tips for Email Marketers

Here’s the cold truth: Every day you neglect to clean your email marketing program data is one more day of damage you could be doing to your email sender reputation.

I said it was cold!

Your email sender reputation is dependent on your following of best practices. Are you only emailing people who consent to receiving your email? Are you removing bad data, like addresses that bounce? Are you sunsetting addresses showing no engagement within a reasonable period?

Email and data are inextricably linked, and if you’re going to start 2021 on the right foot, your email marketing data needs to be pristine. Why? Because competition for attention in the inbox is greater than ever, email volume is at record highs, and you simply can’t afford to be subject to the consequences of a poor sender reputation.

I mean, do you want to be blocklisted and have zero email reach your recipients? Didn’t think so.

Here are the two major things you need to take care of before we escape the winter doldrums, because if you don’t, you’ll be racing to catch up with your competitors.

Dump your bad addresses

Are you noticing lots of rejected email? Those are bounces. They can be hard bounces (permanent, no mail is getting through) or soft bounces (try again later when you feel lucky, punk), or have a bunch of different reasons out of your control. You can look at the error codes reported back to you via your email service provider (ESP) data, and other things like Google Postmaster Tools, to get an idea of the reasons the mail is bouncing. But the bottom line is, if lots of your mail is bouncing, you likely have a data issue. You should run your addresses through a list validation tool, like BriteVerify, to identify bad addresses. To be sure, this won’t keep you from other kinds of bounces, but it’s a great place to start repairing and protecting your email sender reputation.

Sunset your low-activity subscribers

You have consent to mail. Good, very good. But…when did you get it? Are these recipients still opening your mail? Your journey to being a good sender doesn’t stop at getting consent to email your subscribers. Instead, keeping an active eye on your email deliverability metrics is key to your reputation. Look through your lists and identify which addresses haven’t engaged with your email in any given amount of time. The timeframe you use is entirely up to your business goals, but let’s say someone has not opened an email from you in six months. It’s time to either do a re-engagement campaign (in which you send an email specifically asking them to re-confirm their consent), or simply remove them from your lists. If you continue to send to recipients who take no action on your mail, or worse, complain about your mail, mailbox providers (MBPs) will take notice and take action. Even WORSE is if you keep emailing, and those addresses turn into spam traps and send clear negative signals to MBPs. It’s a game you don’t want to play, just in case.

It can be scary to remove email addresses. They can be hard-won and it’s obvious they’re a direct line to customers and prospects. But remember…the risk can also NOT be worth the reward. Even small choices like continuing to mail unengaged addresses can slowly chip away at your deliverability and put you in a bad place (psst: BLOCKLIST). Start as fresh as you can and enjoy the fruits of your labor—more engaged subscribers, less negative (non)interaction, and the peace of knowing you’re in control of your own email destiny.

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Big GDPR Penalties are Rolling In

Since time feels like a vacuum right now, this reminder may surprise you: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted over two years ago. Even though many marketers are familiar with the best practices and protections required for compliance, we’re starting to see fines roll in for companies who either are unaware of the regulation’s nuances, or who simply messed up one way or another.

While the biggest fine we know about yet was in 2019 (a 50 million euro fine), 2020 saw some huge penalties brought against large global companies. But I’d be remiss not to mention these fines are still tantamount to a slap on the wrist, as offending parties can be fined up to 4% of their global revenue! None of the fines seen yet come close to that limit, and when assessing your own risk threshold, be aware how deeply a fine may reach into your pocket.

Here are the forbidden activities drawing the ire of GDPR enforcers:

Gathering personal information without consent

It is incredibly important to only collect information your business deems essential. For example, one company recorded religious beliefs, medical conditions, and other private details of their employees in an online database which up to 50 individuals could access. These meet the GDPR definition of “sensitive” personal data, meaning the level of responsibility and care required in keeping the information guarded is even higher than normal. Plus, the information was not captured in good faith: Personal conversations were mined for data, without the party’s knowledge the information was being collected and used, rendering them unable to provide consent. This breach of privacy violates GDPR’s requirement for a sound legal basis to collect personal data, and the fine was a whopping 35 million euros.

Purchased lists cost an Italian company 14.5 million euros last year. They acquired telephone numbers for prospecting, but the list providers could not provide reasonable or compelling evidence the numbers’ owners had consented to their use. This is a major data collection no-no under GDPR, which is explicitly designed to give individuals more actionable rights over their personal information. If you do purchase lists (which we generally discourage), ensure the seller can demonstrate consent was obtained, particular for European Union data subjects. Additionally, if the data is intended for third-party use, each individual user (company) should be explicitly named as part of the consent process. Ask if the seller can show how the data was acquired, and go through the process yourself.

Keeping sensitive data unencrypted

A highly publicised cyber-attack revealing sensitive personal data resulted in an 18 million pound fine. This is unsurprising, considering the attack lasted for a total of four years, starting in 2014 and went undetected until well into 2018. This fine only applies to the portion of the attack from 2018 onwards, per GDPR’s enforcement date, but during this four-year span, varying degrees of personal data were revealed, including customers’ passport numbers.

These two particular fines serve as a good reminder for all businesses using data to ensure the data collected is necessary. If the information is irrelevant to your business operations, securely delete it and ensure there is no way any data breach could expose both your customers’ and your employees’ personal (and intimate) data.

Disregard for cybersecurity best practices

This year, a 20 million pound fine was levied for a 2018 data breach that exposed 400,000 customers’ data. Here is the key: The investigation found the organisation should have known of the weaknesses in their IT infrastructure and strengthened to prevent an attack. It’s no use claiming lack of awareness. If you haven’t already done a full audit of your data collection and storage protocols, it’s way past time.

Don’t forget GDPR legislation applies to businesses of all sizes and even small, seemingly inconsequential choices can represent a breach. If a PDF document containing personal data is emailed errantly to the wrong recipient, this is considered a violation. If an employee has personal data on their laptop and it’s stolen, this is also a GDPR issue. Even if your annual revenue is only 100 euros, you could still be fined a portion of it. Everyone has a role to play in staying on top of these data privacy best practices, and training your employees to be diligent with data will pay dividends in return.

Our advice on data collection is simple: collect it on your own properties and in good faith. Do not imply user consent – actively confirm it, and remove problematic or risky data from existing lists. While this may all seem less pertinent to American companies, let’s be very clear. If your business is contacting anyone in the EU, you are subject to GDPR’s requirements regardless of your own physical location.

Speaking of locations, it won’t be surprising to see the United States adopting more aggressive data privacy legislation after the massive and shocking SolarWinds hack. Similar legislation is being introduced in many states, and some has even already passed, such as in California. Rather than scramble to ensure your house is in order, it would be wise to proactively adopt standards adhering to GDPR, and get ahead of the curve.

It may seem like a lot of work, but…how much is 10 million in fines worth to your business? Is the choice you‘re making worth 4% of your global revenue? Stay on the right side of GDPR and enjoy not only the peace of mind you won’t be fined any amount, but also the benefit of clean data from engaged prospects.

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