How to create an ethical data strategy

Putting ethical data-driven targeting into practice

The first article in this series looked at how data-driven targeting helps markers with personalisation and retargeting. The second article looked at ethics in more detail – specifically the three core principles of utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. In this final article, we share practical guidance to help you enact ethical data-driven targeting, so it’s present in every decision and every action, every day.

1. Ethical data-driven targeting starts with your people

People make decisions and take actions. And if/when the worst happens, it’s individuals who the business holds to account. We know that ethics isn’t a tick-box exercise – it must live and breathe within the business. So how can you instil ethics into the hearts and minds of your people?

Lay ethical foundations in the c-suite

Secure senior sponsorship by linking ethics to items on the boardroom agenda, like compliance, customer retention, and shareholder value. These business priorities rely on ethics because when brands fail to act in the right way, consumers stop following them, cancel subscriptions and move their loyalties elsewhere.

Top tip! Encourage a customer-centric approach so data-driven decisions are based on what’s right for the customer, rather than their immediate monetary impact.

Make ethics a core part of your culture

If ethics exists within the business as a standalone function, you encourage your people to see ethics as a tick-box exercise. Therefore, fold it into your existing processes so it stays present in every decision and action. This also signals to employees that the business takes its ethical responsibilities seriously.

Top tip! Start with compliance. It’s a business priority and dovetails nicely with ethics.

2. Hold people to account for ethical marketing

To ensure ethics remains front of mind, rather than an afterthought, assign responsibility for marketing ethics to an individual. Hold that individual to account during campaign reviews and ask them to show how the team has taken a considered approach.

Top tip! Don’t forget partner agencies and freelancers. As part of the onboarding process ask them about their ethical practices and safeguards.

3. Ethical data-driven targeting is part of your process

Good marketers create and refine processes that enable them to deliver consistent, high-quality results. As part of these processes, marketers can build their campaigns on a foundation of ethics. So how do you incorporate ethics into ‘business-as-usual’?

Marketing ethics aligns with a robust data security programme

Your business will already have data security and privacy policies in place, which are regularly audited. Ethical marketing is simply an extension of this work. Be transparent about why and how you use data-driven targeting. And build ethical approval into the sign-off process to show its importance.

Top tip! 51% of businesses have suffered a data breach caused by a third party. Check how your partners manage data and take appropriate steps to protect data you share with them.

Regularly review marketing processes for ethics

Marketers will regularly review campaign results and make changes that lead to better outcomes. Critiquing your marketing processes to further imbed ethics is no different. Review customer feedback and complaints to see what you can learn. Then make a plan and assign responsibility, timelines, and budget to enact change.

Top tip! Only 27% of data professionals actively check their data for cognitive bias. While it may not be intentional, it can affect the outcome – for example, programming a CV selection tool with data that favours male applicants because historically men been the more successful candidates.

Share success stories about ethical targeting

Use your internal communications to highlight where your ethical approach had a significant impact on the audience. For example, if you haven’t used or updated your data recently, you can waste time, effort and resource sending catalogues to the wrong people. By simply cleaning the data, you boost response rates, reduce paper wastage, and only engage people who want to hear from you.

Top tip! Take a multi-channel approach. Share video case studies, small snippets with verbatim client feedback, or use reports to visualise your results.

4. Technology is your ethical data-driven enabler

With nearly 10,000 MarTech tools available worldwide and over a quarter (26.6%) of marketing budgets spent on technology, marketers understand the value IT delivers to their campaigns. So how do you use MarTech to support data-driven targeting and keep ethics at the core of decision-making?

Select MarTech tools for a purpose

Over half (58%) of organisations have more than 100,000 folders open to all employees, and only 5% of a company’s folders are protected. When selecting a new tool be sure to consider the permissions settings so that only the right people have access to the right data. At Euler, we partner with leading software companies to ensure our clients can access the best technologies in the world and secure the results they desire.

Top tip! Perform a MarTech audit to find where you can optimise and/or better integrate tools you already have, to achieve better outcomes.

Combine data sets for better targeting

Often, it’s not until you ‘connect the dots’ and allows data to flow between systems, that you can see the answer you need. At Euler, we specialise in bringing data sources together so our clients can understand the bigger picture. This makes it easier for them to streamline interdepartmental communications, simplify reporting, and make it easier to extract insights and valuable information.

Top tip! Discover how our Business Analysts can support your new architecture, or improve an existing one, to focus on data quality.

Offer customers self-service data-targeting tools

Sometimes the best customer service you can supply is when you empower your customers to help themselves. Over a quarter (77%) of customers say they view brands more positively if they provide self-service options. Therefore, think about where it makes sense to allow customers to control what data you have and how you use data about them.

Top tip! When allowing people to sign-up to your newsletter, ask them to select the topics that interest them. This enables you to target specific people with personalised content, rather than sending everything to everyone.

5. Use data-driven targeting to cultivate better relationships

With a few tweaks to the way you work, it’s possible to use data-driven marketing to boost your campaign results:

  • Lay ethical foundations in the c-suite.
  • Make ethics a core part of your culture.
  • Hold people to account for ethical marketing.
  • Marketing ethics aligns with a robust data security programme.
  • Regularly review marketing processes for ethics.
  • Share success stories about ethical targeting.
  • Select MarTech tools for a purpose.
  • Combine data sets for better targeting.
  • Offer customers self-service data-targeting tools.

Download our whitepaper The Ethics of Data-driven Marketing to read more about the principles of ethical targeting, or get in touch to ask our experts.



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