3 Ways CMOs Can Prepare Against Data Breaches


Editor’s Note: This article on how CMOs can prepare against data breaches originally appeared in B2B Marketing Magazine.

In today’s ever-connected world, there’s just no way to overstate the impact of data breaches.

They’re a near-daily occurrence for businesses that rely on digital channels to spread their message (all businesses, really), and they can be costly – the immediate expense of data remediation, the longer-term expense of restoring your partnerships, your brand, your credibility.
Thankfully, many breaches can be prevented, so long as CMOs have the right operational plans in place to manage them. A plan that’s done well, in fact, can even be its own marketing opportunity.
Here are three ways CMOs can harness their data preparedness:

Understand your data collection and compliance obligations

The tactics you use will depend on your business model, especially if you’re marketing internationally, but it’s still crucial to map out where your data originates, how it’s stored, and what its purposes are. Here’s what you need to do now:

  • Make sure your data is permissioned and used for the correct purposes. This is a crucial step to take for your larger partner network, as their practices can and often will affect your brand.
  • Conduct a regular review and preference exercise on your customers and prospects, to keep your outreach relevant and your audience engaged. The more engaged your buyers are, the more ROI they’ll help you generate.
  • Know when it’s time to let go of the data you’ve stored. All data comes with a sell-by date, and it’s important you check your database regularly, to make sure you’re clearing away data that’s past its prime. If someone has opted out of your communications, make sure they’re stricken from your lists.

Take these steps to ensure that you as CMO know precisely what regulations you are required to comply with. Your obligations are where your client is located. All countries have digital rules of the road you have to follow, ensure your driving license is up to date.

Market to the opportunity

Breach preparedness might not seem an especially exciting task to take on, but it’s crucial to the success of your vision as a CMO, and to the overall solvency of your brand. You need to make sure you’re proactively marketing your preparedness and general data hygiene practices.Make the measures you’ve taken part of your overall demand gen toolkit – central to outbound campaigns and promotions, reinforced in calls you take with potential customers and clients. This isn’t just good business sense; this is common sense for the world we live in, where buyers are more educated than ever before on issues surrounding data privacy and anxious to have conversations on breach preparedness. I can’t tell you how many RFPs I’ve seen that foreground privacy questions and considerations.

Make it a point to market compliance at every juncture of the customer journey. Customers and partners can be confident you’ll protect the data they provide you and will only use it in manners that are transparent and for the manner intended.

Invest in privacy and compliance certification

In this increasingly connected age, measures around privacy and compliance aren’t simply nice-to-haves; they’re must-haves. The ROI for a privacy certification might seem difficult to quantify, when the initial outlay looks large, but the cost to your brand without the investment is ten times higher, in the event especially of a breach (and ensuing backlash from customers).

Make privacy programs a priority – certifications, industry alliances and memberships, participation in working groups – and see to it the program you choose fits your organization’s size and unique data needs (especially if yours is an industry where data privacy is particularly paramount). There are affordable third-party solutions available to organizations of all sizes, from BBB Online to TrustE, and CMOs should make an effort to evaluate and exhaust their every option on this front. An ounce of prevention, remember, is worth a pound of cure.

Looking ahead

The data management and breach incident landscape is changing rapidly. Stay on top of the issues by engaging in industry resources and groups that can provide you updated information pertaining to all things privacy and data management. Ensure that privacy management is a core function within your organization and is supported by the c-suite, which means available budget that your business can leverage to adopt tools and services that make privacy stewardship a competitive edge for the organization.

Bottom line: a commitment to privacy is good for business and good for your users, and as the main steward of the customer experience, it’s up to you as CMO to cultivate a privacy program that can go the distance – supporting a more seamless brand experience, and increasing ROI long term.

Remember, not all data breaches are created equal – some are more painful than others. The good news? With these proactive steps you can limit the event and possible fallout, as well as demonstrate corporate governance during the difficult time of navigating the data breach resolution.