Insight: marketers fear releasing their own data, The Chartered Institute of Marketing

New research released by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), at its annual Digital Summit in London, reveals that over two-thirds (68%) of marketers confess to protecting the personal data they give away as a consumer, because they know how brands and organisations will use it.

CIM’s ‘Whose data is it anyway?’ study surveyed more than 2,500 marketers and consumers to gain their insight into the use of personal data for marketing purposes. It shows data discrepancies and concerns to be worryingly prevalent across the board.

The report shows that 92% of consumers do not fully understand where and how marketers, brands and organisations use their personal information and data and one third (31%) say they have no idea about where and how their personal data is being used.

More than half of all consumers (57%) reveal they do not trust an organisation to use their data responsibly – the biggest issue being that their information may be passed onto others without consent (40%). The report questions whether enough is being done by brands to follow correct data marketing practices and reassure consumers.

41% of marketers say they do not fully understand laws and best practices around the use of consumers’ personal data, yet only 17% felt they needed more training. 81% admit their company shares data across the business without express permission from customers, and only 36% of marketers believe their organisation is transparent about the collection and use of data.

Chris Daly, chief executive of CIM, comments: “Customer data is essential for marketers to reach the right audience and meet customers’ needs and interests. Yet our report shows that people are nervous about sharing personal data – fears of data breaches and misuse has them on high alert. And, this reluctance could be justified, when as consumers themselves, marketers feel dubious about releasing their own personal data, for fear of knowing what may happen to it.

“However, two-thirds (67%) of customers actually say they would share more personal information if organisations were more open about how they will use it.  So, the solution is clear, marketers need to brush up on the rules, demonstrate clearly the value-add personal data offers in delivering a more personalised experience and ultimately reduce the fear by being open throughout the process. Otherwise marketers risk alienating their customers – and that benefits no-one.”

CIM’s report also shows 51% of consumers have received communications from organisations they feel have misused their data, with 17% saying it happens all the time. This is whilst the majority of consumers (70%) still do not see the benefit of sharing their personal data at all.

Of all the data capture options, consumers feel most uncomfortable sharing their real time location (71%), information from social media platforms (68%) and their personal phone number (62%). This presents a disparity between what marketers and consumers believe to be acceptable forms of data capture and is particularly at odds with the marketing trend to make increasing use of data from mobiles, since 44% of marketing professionals already collect personal data from social media platforms and 20% from geo-location tracking.

In response to today’s report, CIM recommends marketers and businesses do the following to support consumers:


  1. Be straight with people – there is a lot of confusion when it comes to data. Marketers should tell customers when they plan to collect data, why they wish to do so and what they intend to do with it. This should be communicated in a clear and open manner across all forms of data capture.


  1. Articulate the benefits – if marketers can demonstrate the positive benefits of their data collection to the consumer, and what it will enable them to do such as sharing topical and relevant products and services, then they may be able to gain more buy-in from consumers to extend this.


  1. Show you respect customer data – trust, honesty and transparency needs to be at the heart of the relationship between marketers and their customers. It’s clear that the topic of data really matters to consumers, and they want reassurance that marketers are using it securely, and most of all, responsibly.


  1. Gain an understanding of data do’s and don’ts – marketers should continually familiarise themselves with consumers’ data rights and the law. Introducing training across an organisation should help to make the correct data approach and procedures the responsibility of the whole business, and a development priority for all staff.


The report is available to view in full on the CIM company website

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