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Data Privacy For Product-Based Businesses: What To Consider

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Data privacy for product based business - growth plan

Many of my clients are feeling right now that data privacy and GDPR is a minefield that you’re not quite ready to face, but it is essential for product-based business owners to take seriously.

If you are focused on growing your business into a profitable and strong venture, then you need to ensure that you comply with the latest business laws and are keeping your customers details safe, as well as any of your employees - otherwise you will face quite harsh consequences.

Below is my practical insight into data privacy for product-based business; this is not meant to be a comprehensive or legal guide - my aim is to simply provide a useful overview and some top tips on where you can learn more.


What Is Data Privacy?

Data is information, therefore any product-based business who serves customers, will collect and hold on their systems, information that customers have supplied to them.

Data can range greatly in terms of how secretive and protected it should be. As you will know from your own product-based business, the information supplied to you from customers varies depending on they way that customer interacts with your business.  It can be data such as a customers name, email address, physical address, telephone number through to other things such as National Insurance number or credit card and bank details.


Data privacy refers to how a product-based business should keep information safe and secure. The information customers supply to your product-based business, should not be leaked or shared elsewhere.

It is your duty as a business owner to ensure that this does not happen via a data breach, or it could risk all of your non-sensitive and sensitive data being leaked, being made public or worse falling into the wrong hands.

A data privacy policy is very important as it should reassure customers that their data is only accessed by the relevant people in your business - and only when absolutely needed (ie. to process their order or communicate with them) and that the data is otherwise kept safe and private from other eyes.


What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. You can access more information about GDPR on the European government website here. Essentially, GDPR was put in place to help individuals across Europe protect how their information is collected and stored by companies. This is a welcome change for many, as it stops the unethical selling on of individuals details or data.

With the new law that was put in place in May 2018, an individual customer can now ask your business to disclose how their information is stored, gain access to it and be able to modify their data. They also have a right to be forgotten, by erasing their personal data in your business systems. Individual customers can now also ask for a copy of all of their data.

At all times, your product-based business must gain permission from the individual in order to process their personal data.


Why does it matter to your online business success?

The data privacy regulations and GDPR laws mean that your product based business needs to take data privacy seriously for both your customers and any potential lead’s who are often referred to as simply "traffic" on your website. It affects the way that your customer’s data is used to reach out and connect. You cannot just find a random email to contact and try to sell to them.

When it comes to one of product-based businesses best growth strategies - email list building, the importance of getting it right, is even more clear.

As we know, to grow your business, you must be building your email lists and proactively using email opt-ins. Instead of placing customers email addresses into your email marketing software, you need to ensure that they are happy to opt into any email marketing that you intend to do.

So, you cannot just randomly enter email addresses from business cards, or customer enquiry forms. You must always get an individual to opt into your list themselves. This can be done via a landing page, a link sent out or via opt-in application forms placed on social media.

As well as opt-in forms, you must always embed a link at the bottom of all email marketing newsletters that enables your audience to opt-out and unsubscribe. This helps to adhere to the GDPR regulations that an individual can erase their data from your systems at any point.

If you should ever need to pass your customers information or your website traffic information on to any other person or company for any reason, for example your logsitics provider to ship your product, or analytics software that records traffic behaviour you must always gain permission and have this in your privacy policy as a use case.

You also should reflect on how you are storing personal data, and make sure that you have high technical security in place across your website and business systems, especially if you are handling sensitive data such as bank details.


Where can you learn more about GDPR?

If you would like to learn more about GDPR to ensure that you are following the regulations correctly, you can view plenty of online websites. For an abundance of information on GDPR and other data privacy information, check out the ICO website for up to date advice and guidance.

GoDaddy also have a great article on practical steps to ensure your website is GDPR compliant. Including top tips like reviewing your privacy policy, ensuring your plugins are GDPR compliant and cleaning up your mailing lists.  I recommend you take a look and take action.  

This local government website can also help you to make sense of what you need to do in regards to GDPR.


Make It Happen In Your Business

I hope that this blog post has helped you with a high level overview of what GDPR is and given you a chance to reflect on data privacy, GDPR and how important it is to adhere to the rules and regulations. If a data breach was to occur, you could end up jeopardising your businesses’ reputation and success.


Next Steps

  • Just because you have to follow GDPR and data privacy guidelines, it doesn’t mean that you can’t build up an email marketing list- it just means that you have to adhere to certain processes. Please don't allow this regulation change to become an excuse for not building your product-based business and focusing on customer acquisition!
  • Please check out the above websites official guidance on the legal implications for your product-based business and for more information and guidance and how to implement this new legislation correctly in your business.
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