Marketing is a data-based business practice.
Like many other strategic activities in business, it relies on valuable information about consumers, competitors, and markets to drive growth. So it collects and stores heaps of it, making everyone involved vulnerable to data theft and malware.
As marketers keep discovering new channels to generate data from, cybercriminals keep finding new and ingenious ways of exploiting their weakest points. Reports of data breaches go public daily, while marketing security isn’t discussed too often.
However, there are many reasons why marketers must start talking about it. Here they are:
Data Security Has Become а Key Concern
The year 2018 marked a change of direction in the way internet users think about their online security. Multiple data breach scandals were crowned by the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and finally received the public attention they obviously require.
And now, businesses are facing a twofold threat.
First, research shows that SMBs are usually the first to fall victim to cybercrime. Online criminals monetize on their lack of awareness and protection. At the same time, attackers put in jeopardy not only SMBs’ strategic plans for the future but also their brand reputation.
Second, small businesses are going bankrupt due to the hefty fines they must pay because they’ve failed to protect their customer and client data. A minor data breach can ruin them for good, and all that because they’d naively presumed they were safe.
Information Fuels Every Business Decision
But without consumer information, these companies would have no means of staying relevant and competitive. It’s not only that data fuels business decisions in the modern world, but it was also made easily available over the internet.
Marketers are the ones tasked with collecting it.
A typical marketing team manages customer interactions on multiple channels from social media to email or SMS. In running campaigns, these experts create numerous touch points between their brands and potential or existing customers.
Everything goes into their database: consumers’ online behavior and offline habits, their purchasing history and cookies, as well as their email addresses and phone numbers. This is a lot of data, most of which is stored without being encrypted first.
Every Touch Point Is a Potential Data Leak
This data explosion is part of a bigger trend.
In order to attract and retain customers, businesses must create fast, convenient, and fun shopping experiences. Personalization is another must-do, as customers don’t like browsing irrelevant products to find their perfect solution.
Additionally, businesses must rely on third-party technology to enable frictionless customer journeys. Facebook shopping, for instance, exposes both brands and customers to social media data breaches or unethical sharing of consumer data.
Customer journeys are made smoother and faster by third-party integrations on every single touch point, but every single touch point is a potential data leak. Hackers can gain access to private data via chat systems, social media, or other similar gateways.
What Should Marketers Do About It?
Better third-party vendor management would be a good solution to this problem, but that’s out of marketers’ jurisdiction. The only thing marketers can do about it is to get informed on the risks and practice basic online security measures.
Adding a layer of protection around their systems and tools would be a good way to start. This requires better communication with IT teams and a more robust framework for internal database security, but not only that.
Using a mobile VPN for on-the-go management is another good idea. That way, hackers won’t be able to penetrate internal systems via individual mobile phones when they are connected to the same network or used to access marketing tools.
MarSec as a Set of Applicable Guidelines
In their effort to establish better practices, marketing experts have started working on a framework for marketing security called MarSec and defined as the “real-time control and management of enterprise and customers’ data on a website.”
But for MarSec to work, marketing security tools can no longer be viewed as “nice-to-have.” A mobile VPN, as an illustration, should not be optional, but mandatory for every member of a marketing team and every consumer database.
Being aware is no longer enough either.
It’s time for marketers to act on existing concerns and take necessary precautions on a team-wide level. Consumer data platforms with reinforced security can help them manage and control how data flows from one operation into another.
Nobody’s safe from data theft.
Both SMBs and large corporations are being targeted by cybercriminals throughout industries and sectors. Organizations that fall victim to data breaches are at the peril of losing money to theft and fines alike, but also at risk of losing customers and reputation.
The need for staying cautious cannot be overstressed.