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GDPR Compliance in the Era of Marketing Automation

Codrin Teiu

GDPR Compliance in the Era of Marketing Automation

Consumer data heavily influence business operations. In the last decade alone, data has become the living heartbeat of marketing automation systems. It allows systems to take a large number of decisions in a short time, enrooted in the information collected and processed, making all business processes vastly more efficient.

If your business is located or has customers in the EU, then your data practices require GDPR compliance.

Being GDPR compliant allows your business to gain a competitive edge over other market players who may not strictly be following GDPR guidelines.

In this article, we dive into the topic of GDPR compliance, exploring what the regulations consist of, how to ensure compliance, and what the consequences of GDPR infringement are. Read on to find out what business data processes are most affected by the GDPR and shed light on ways that your Eloqua marketing automation platform can aid you in becoming GDPR compliant.

What is the General Data Protection Regulation?

GDPR stands for the “General Data Protection Regulation”. The European Union drafted it, putting it into effect on the 25th of May 2018. Currently, it is the most stringent digital privacy and security law in the world.

It imposes obligations onto organizations worldwide, as long as they are collecting data from people residing in (or even temporarily transiting) the European Union. In case that these obligations are not correctly applied, fines can reach amounts of tens of millions of euros.

In most serious cases of GDPR infringement, fines could reach up to 17 million Euros or 4% of a company’s annual turnover, whatever is higher. Often considered when deciding on the severity of the penalty are the duration and severity of the data breach, whether it was intentional or negligent, the type of data involved, if the breach was reoccurring, and if is taking a toll on the rights of the affected individuals.

Besides, a company that has to deal with the consequences of GDPR infringement will also suffer irreparable reputation damage. Moreover, businesses risk needing to compensate for the damage done to individuals due to non-compliance. This is the example of Ashley Madison, the extramarital affairs website breach that happened in 2015, which exposed 36 million accounts. Due to the sensitive data that was exposed, Ashley Madison had to compensate users for the damage done to their relationships, thus reaching a settlement where they had to pay 11.2 million Dollars to the affected users.

Without a doubt, GDPR regulations are quite far-reaching, extensive, and light on specifics, a fact that places GDPR compliance among the biggest privacy challenges businesses encounter.

Europe is signaling their firm stance on data privacy and security through times when businesses rely on people to provide personal data that can, in turn, be breached or stolen.

The General Data Protection Regulation was explicitly designed to give people control over data collected and used. It binds organizations to strict rules about the use and security of personal information collected from people. It also imposes a higher legal threshold to be met for justifying data collection, alongside strict safeguards concerning encryption.

What is the scope of GDPR?

Let’s take a look at the specific areas where the General Data Protection Regulation affects the collection of private consumer data.

These areas are defined in an array of legal terms, presented below:

1. Personal data

Personal data is defined as any information that is related to an individual who can be directly or indirectly identified. These include names, addresses, gender, ethnicity, location information, religious beliefs, web cookies, biometric data, and political opinions. Technically, under this category falls also pseudonymous data that can be easily used to identify an individual.

2. Data processing

This term refers to any action performed to or with data, whether manual or automated. Examples for this can be recording, organizing, structuring, storing, collecting, erasing, using, so basically, every action that relates to data collected from an individual.

3. Data Subject

The data subject refers to the individual that has their data processed: website visitors, prospects, leads, or customers.

4. Data controller

The data controller is the person that makes decisions on why and how the processed personal information is collected, stored, and used. If you are an owner or user of marketing automation software that collects data (such as Eloqua), this is you.

5. Data processor

This term refers to any third party that processes data on behalf of the controller.

Data Protection Principles

When dealing with regulations, it is essential to know the principles behind, to be able to adhere to them properly and avoid getting fines. Let’s take a brief look at the 7 core principles outlined when processing data:

1. Fairness, lawfulness, and transparency

Data processing needs to be fair, lawful, and transparent to the data subject.

2. Purpose limitation

The data collected has to be processed for legitimate purposes that are clearly stated to the data subject.

3. Data minimization

The amount of collected data should not exceed the amount that is absolutely necessary for any specific purpose.

4. Accuracy

Personal data has to be kept up to date and accurate.

5. Storage limitation

The personally identifying data has to be stored for as long as necessary for the explicitly specified purpose.

6. Integrity and confidentiality

Data processing has to be secure, confidential, and have integrity.

7. Accountability

The data controller is the one responsible for the data, being the one to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR.

Although it might seem quite tricky to adhere to all these confusing regulations, using this checklist and the full potential of your Eloqua marketing automation platform can make it more straightforward for you to excel in GDPR compliance.

To help you pinpoint what your data sources are, below, please find a list of potential marketing systems or technologies that rely on collected customer information.

Website Analytics

Google Analytics, for example, has notified its users about the GDPR implementation requirements. Any website analytics tool can identify a customer just by collecting data points such as IP addresses, through cookies. Although these regard anonymous data points, when combined with other sources of information, it is enough for identification.

Marketing Automation Software

When implementing a marketing automation solution such as Oracle Eloqua into your company’s digital marketing workflow, you have to keep GDPR requirements in mind. Eloqua, however, is a flexible marketing automation tool with numerous modules that can help attain GDPR compliance. Read on to gain more insights into these.

Customer Service Database

As the name implies, your database is the one, central place storing all your customer data. Your other systems, such as customer success activities and customer services, are dependent on those databases. Despite not being marketing software, per se, databases in your company’s workflow need to ultimately comply with the GDPR. Customers might request a copy of data collected on them; another reason to comply with the GDPR.

Third-Party Marketing Service Providers

Consultants, creative agencies, or lead generation partners, and individual sales representatives often have to take into account customer data when creating and analyzing the current state of the company. On top of that, forecasting and making adjustments are data-intensive processes, thus requiring them to be GDPR compliant.

Customer Relationship Management

This software comprises large databases full of information collected from your customers and stored within. Thus, its need for stellar GDPR compliance is of utmost importance, unless you can ensure that no data from a European citizen is present in your systems. Fortunately, it is easy to manage your CRM system as it is searchable by contact, thus making it easier to manage single contacts.

Company Data Backups

As the name suggests, these are the backup data sources that your business uses. In case you do not have these systems in place, you should. It prevents data losses when something goes wrong with your data storage units. As back-ups store all data, there is bound to be customer data present as well, thus making them eligible to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Knowing the data-reliant applications of your company is a great first step in making it easier for you to become GDPR compliant.

Marketing automation platforms such as Eloqua allow for custom modules to be implemented within the platform, which reduces the challenges coming with the GDPR. Below, you can find a few such innovative modules that can be added to your Eloqua platform. It is up to you if you choose to purchase them as they are, design them from scratch in-house or outsource the implementation of custom-made modules that tailor to your specific requirements to a team of Eloqua experts (like ours).

  • Right to be Forgotten is an Eloqua module that allows someone to erase the stored data, while retaining full control, on top of being able to track the event, thus providing provability within the law.
  • Form Compliance can help you by reviewing forms sent via the web, notifying the Data Protection Officer of potential violations. In the case that one of your Eloqua forms does not contain consent verification, you are notified.
  • Right to Portability makes it easy for verified users to be able to download the existing data in a machine-readable format. This ensures verified users’ accessibility to their own data for their own use.
  • Upload Wizard prevents contacts from going into Eloqua if there is no consent available. It is essential because it is a reminder of how critical data collection consent is, concerning GDPR compliance.
  • Compliance Reporting tracks the overall compliance and consent progress. This enables you to see how well-adjusted your systems are with regards to the GDPR, thus reducing the risk of enquiring fines

Collecting Personal Data

Eloqua can capture a large amount of user data across multiple channels in the scope of delivering better results concerning your digital marketing efforts. Marketers have many ways at their disposal for enabling customers to make informed decisions when it comes to the information they provide to your business.

You can configure the data collection process to meet all your specific business requirements while remaining GDPR compliant.

Managing Personal Data

The large amount of data that is collected by businesses from their customers or visitors requires careful coordination. Managing such a large amount of data may be a rather time-consuming task.

That is why having the ability to update and securely transfer large amounts of personal data is so essential for digital marketers.

Protecting Personal Data

As stated before, the one that is responsible for data collection is the one that has the responsibility the keep it safe. Because of the nature of marketing automation, Oracle Eloqua provides state-of-the-art data security mechanisms and controls.

These include features like encryption and anonymization that keep data safe.

To help you better navigate Eloqua’s Privacy Workflow Management maze, we put together a helpful document for you. Download our customer case study better to familiarize yourself with a Data Privacy Workflow Redesign venture. In turn, get a glimpse of how our Eloqua experts have resolved common client data management challenges, such as flawlessly honoring each subscription, diminishing any system outages due to potential logic failure, enhancement of the debugging and troubleshooting process, among others.

Final Thoughts

Being GDPR compliant in the era of data collection and processing is a challenging and confusing task. Marketing automation platforms are heavily reliant on consumer data to automate many of the digital marketing processes.

Although the GDPR only concerns people residing in the European Union, it is hard to ensure that no European resident accesses your website, if you deliberately choose not to make it GDPR compliant. Besides, ensuring that your email communication sent out would certainly not lead to any GDPR infringement is actually impossible. Consider the possibility of emailing a customer from Japan transiting through the EU for one day. If an unsolicited email reaches them on that specific day – it is considered infringement.

Ultimately, with Europe being such an important market, it is often more economically advantageous to comply with GDPR, than to lose such a lucrative market. If your business conducts activities in Europe, then you have to implement strong GDPR compliance policies in your digital marketing automation platforms to keep or to gain a competitive advantage.

This is where our Eloqua consulting experts can come to your aid.

With an impressive number of years under their belt spent mastering Eloqua, our consultants can ensure that your Eloqua platform entirely complies with the most rigorous General Data Protection Regulation. Benefit from a sample of our trusted expertise and schedule a free platform Audit for Privacy Management.

Ultimately, let us know if we can help you implement validated marketing technology best practices that will make your digital marketing efforts soar to new heights of efficiency and effectiveness.

Codrin Teiu
Service Delivery Manager | Lead Consultant

My mission is to help clients enrich marketing automation success by guiding their MarTech adoption and transformation to maximize added-value. The bedrock for building strong relationships with my clients is a thorough understanding of their business needs and competitive scenarios. These deep insights enable a framework for delivering expert marketing technology advice on the trail of custom roadmaps to success. I drive value for our team at Logarithmic by shaping processes, building know-how towards enhanced best-practices and supporting talented professionals to reach their full potential.

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