Marketers are often challenged by data protection and privacy practitioners. Some aspects of direct marketing seem to them to be inconsistent with data protection regulations.
Yet marketing is actually specified in the GDPR as a legitimate business activity!
After all, you need to find and keep customers, don't you?
Of course, there are ways to do things properly - ways you can be a responsible data user with your marketing.
Marketing is the lifeblood of any commercial operation. Whether you are a business making sales or a charity seeking donations, marketing - the ability to find the right customers - is of critical importance.
Yet marketing gets a bad reputation amongst some privacy activists. It attracts this reputation because marketing practitioners often engage in irresponsible data use.
You might have experienced some of this yourself:
Receiving emails you never asked for;
Answering the telephone to be subjected to a sales call you never asked for, and in spite of the fact you registered your number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), you still get the calls;
Being deluged with direct mail, again, in spite of registering your postal address with the Mail Preference Service (MPS).
There is a habit amongst some less reputable marketers to ignore the safeguards created by the industry and instead hitting everyone they can find with a sales message - presumably working on the principle that if you throw enough mud some of it will stick.
Of course good marketers don't do this. However they have been using some less than savoury tactics when it comes to online sales lead generation. Instead of careful targeting of prospective customers, online technologies allow for people's behaviours to be tracked.
Where people have given permission or consent for their behaviours to be tracked, that's one thing. However if you want to live out parts of your life in privacy, tracking can be a sinister thing. For example, tracking data is used by marketers to draw conclusions about how you, as an individual, lead your life and what you might be predisposed to buy.
They don't always get the calculations on which these conclusions are based right. Which means they can be wrong. In some cases very wrong!
The implications for private lives can be serious.
There is so much more to this than just making sure you don't send spam emails.
Marketers who can demonstrate their responsibility for personal data are more likely to be able to collect that most vital resource a customer can offer, trust.
Trust lets marketers build relationships based on mutual value and respect.