Companies have become increasingly concerned about data privacy, particularly since they now have access to large amounts of customer information. Recent data scandals have spotlighted companies’ data management and customer privacy. Companies that fail to protect customer data’s integrity and privacy can cause severe reputational damage and financial sanctions.

Many companies have been concerned about fulfilling their GDPR obligations over the past few years. Even if you do not operate in a GDPR-compliant market, knowing your obligations to protect customer information is essential. Marketers have great potential to create highly customized digital marketing campaigns by mining customer data. However, marketers must still follow the best data protection practices.

We will cover the essential principles of data privacy, regardless of where you are located, and outline ten guidelines marketers should keep in mind. These guidelines are based on our webinar GDPR Essentials.

GDPR and data privacy

European governments felt pressured to address data protection weaknesses and launched the General Data Protection Regulation in 2016.

Digital marketers will find essential implications from the GDPR as it describes how to store and use customer or user data.

This handy checklist will help you create a GDPR-compliant marketing strategy.

Notice: The GDPR applies to all companies that are located in the EU. Different data protection guidelines apply to other jurisdictions, so ensure you are fully aware of your obligations when marketing in these areas. If your company has California residents, it must adhere to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), that was in effect January 1, 2020.

Privacy and data protection principles

It doesn’t matter where your company sells to or which regulations you must follow, it is best to apply the following six data protection principles.

  1. Transparent, lawful and fair processing
  2. Purpose limitation
  3. Data minimization
  4. Data accuracy
  5. Data retention
  6. Data integrity, confidentiality, and security

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Transparent, lawful and fair processing

Companies must process user data legally, fairly, and transparently. If one of these conditions applies, the processing is legal.

  • The data subject has consented .
  • Processing is part of a contractual or legal obligation.
  • To protect someone’s vital interests , the data must be processed.
  • The public interest is involved in processing the data.

Consent – This is an important principle in data privacy. The GDPR states that content must be “freely given”, specific, informed, unambiguous, and not misleading. Companies should follow these guidelines when collecting data:

  • It is important to be clear about when consent is required.
  • You can record what they want, how they request it, and how you manage consent.
  • Facilitate people’s withdrawal of consent.

It is not possible to assume that customers have given their informed consent. It would be best to offer customers the opt-in option to your data collection process.

Purpose limitation

Even if users give their consent, data should only be used for specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes. The data should only be used for the purpose that the user has informed. If you inform the user that you are collecting data for research purposes only, then you can’t use those data for marketing purposes.

Don’t forget that just because you have the data does not mean you can use it for every purpose. The data cannot be used in any way that is not compatible with its informed purpose.

  • Users should not share data with the media if they agree to keep it private.
  • You shouldn’t share user data about their experience with your products with market research companies.
  • Employees sharing personal data about their health with you should be kept confidential.

You may want to use data for purposes other than the original. You should seek new permission to use data for a new purpose if you suspect it is not compatible with the original purpose.


Let’s say a bank gathers data on customers about their banking preferences, and how they use the data.

The bank discovers that certain customers could benefit from better savings or loan offerings after reviewing customer data. The data used in this instance is compatible to the original purpose. No further consent is required.

The bank enters into a partnership agreement with an insurance company. The bank believes that some of its clients will benefit from insurance, so it wants to share the customer data with the insurance company. The data use in this instance is not compatible with its original purpose so additional consent will be required.

Data minimization

Keep in mind the important concept that just because you have data doesn’t necessarily mean you can do anything with it.

Personal data processing should include the following:

  • It is adequate
  • Relevant
  • Limit yourself to what is absolutely necessary

This applies to both the collection and the sharing of data. Customers need to be aware of what data will be used and assured that they won’t have their data used for any other purposes (without their consent). Customers should have reasonable expectations regarding how data will be used.

Data accuracy

You must ensure accuracy and currentness of data when collecting it. You must correct or delete inaccurate personal data if you find it. This is more than just about protecting customers’ privacy. You cannot make accurate decisions on the basis of customer data that is incorrect or out-of-date.

Data retention

Only the necessary personal data may be retained for the purpose they were intended.

Your company should have a data retention plan and share it with customers to let them know how their data will be used. This policy should include:

  • What data do you collect?
  • It is important to collect it
  • How long it stays put away
  1. Data integrity, confidentiality, and security

Personal data is something you are legally required to protect. Personal data is the property of the data subject and not yours. It is important to protect personal data.

You should use the appropriate organizational or technical measures to protect yourself against:

  • Unauthorized or illegal processing
  • Accidental loss, destruction, or damage

With the increasing trend towards remote work, this issue is even more urgent. Remote workers must be made aware of their data protection obligations by companies. Remote workers must follow company policies on device use, email, cloud, network access, creation, storage, disposal of paper records, and other matters.

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