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How B2B Marketers Can Keep Their Customer Data Secure in an Open World

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How B2B Marketers Can Keep Their Customer Data Secure in an Open World


Becoming successful as an online B2B marketer or business owner now requires more than effective marketing strategies and delivering to customers what you promise. It also now requires taking action to ensure that your customer data is kept secure.

In fact, the security of customer data now runs at the heart of what it takes to run an online business successfully. This is for two reasons: 1. so customers of B2B marketers and business owners will have confidence knowing their data is kept secure, and 2. so B2B marketers and business owners avoid the massive financial ramifications of suffering a data leak or ransomware attack.

In this article, we’ll discuss how B2B marketers and online marketplace owners can secure customer data in an open world against the most common kinds of data breaches.

Why data security is at the core of business success

The foundational reasons for why data security rests at the core of business success have been established above, but to expand on those principles, it’s worth noting that the subject of customer data security is hardly anything new. Since the pandemic struck, the number of cybercrimes has risen substantially, and this has made customers (both for B2C and B2B transactions alike) far more cognizant of cybercrimes than they were before.

This is one of the reasons why up to 84% of customers now report that they will not complete an online transaction if they have reason to believe that the site or marketplace they are buying from is not secure. It’s also why there has been a 50% rise in the number of people purchasing comprehensive insurance policies to help cover financial losses in the event of their businesses going under or becoming the victims of a successful cyberattack.

Online customers are now more aware of how their personal information is being collected, and what security measures are being used for the sites and online stores they’re doing business with. B2B marketers and business owners need to adapt, and there are three key areas where they can do so:

Use progressive profiling to gather data

The first step for B2B marketers to secure customer data is to only gather absolutely essential information and to be fully transparent with consumers and businesses about the information they are collecting.

The best strategy to ensure this is called progressive profiling, or where you steadily build up a profile of your customers each time they make an interaction with your brand, site, or products and services. In other words, you collect small pieces of information from customers over time versus a larger pool of data at once.

Too many businesses will hit customers early on with long-form questionnaires that must be completed before they can even interact with a product or service, and that require several minutes to fill out. The result is that customers may not even fill out the questionnaire or form because of the inconvenience, resulting in lost business.

Instead, with progressive profiling, you only gather the absolutely critical information (i.e. names and email addresses) in an initial commitment form. All other data you need is gathered in small increments at later stages in the customer journey. Examples of information you may need to collect with B2B customers include details about the customers’ company (addresses, budgets, phone numbers, etc.), financial data, and the position of the customer within the company.

Only ask the questions that are appropriate or relevant for each stage. Again, the idea is to collect only the data you absolutely need and at the least possible inconvenience to the customer. Make sure that each questionnaire or form you provide to a customer has a maximum of two or three questions each.

It’s also important to be fully transparent about the data you are collecting and how it will be used, which you can indicate in clear print on each form or questionnaire. Also, point out here how the data is stored on a need-to-know basis only amongst the members of your company for maximum security. Speaking of which…

Ensure Access To Customer Data Is Kept On A Need-To-Know Basis

Limit access to customer or business information on a strictly need-to-know basis. Not everyone in your company needs to know the data you collect concerning your customers. This is especially true when it comes to financial information, which we’ll use as an example.

Having reliable systems in place for customers to pay is an obvious part of successfully running an online business. Simply offering an option to pay via credit card or debit card alone should be sufficient. After all, according to recent studies, over 70% of customers today favor using credit cards for making their online transactions.

But less obvious is how you handle that data. If you truly keep customer data strictly on a need-to-know basis, this means three crucial things:

  1. Access controls are implemented on any systems where customer financial data is stored
  2. You have a clear written policy that details privilege-level access to customer financial data
  3. You configure the aforementioned access controls so only authorized parties can view the data when necessary, with all other members of your company denied access

This leads us to our final point…

Ensure Encryption Policies Are Kept Up-To-Date

The process by which encryption of customer data works is simple…and the process for how cybercriminals can attempt to hack out-of-date encryption policies is even more so. Most companies rely on asymmetric encryption algorithms (or public-key cryptographic encryption) to secure customer data. This means that customer data is kept secured using ciphertext, which can only be viewed in the original text if it is decrypted with an encryption key.

However, unless symmetric encryption, two different keys are used to access the ciphertext: one key is public, and the other is private. The public key may be shared with anyone and is used to encrypt a message so that the intended recipient can then decrypt the message with their private key. An example of asymmetric encryption is to use RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) algorithms, which also happens to be one of the most widely utilized encryption methods.

The most common strategy hackers use to break encrypted messages or data files today is through brute force attacks, or using different keys until the correct one is discovered using trial-and-error application programs. The length of the key alone determines how many digits are in the key, which is why it’s smarter to use longer encryption keys to help reduce the odds of a brute force attack becoming successful.

Beyond that, the best strategies to ensure your encryption policies are kept properly updated are to: update your encryption ciphers, keep your private encryption keys secure (ensure compliance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Recommendation for Key Management), and encrypt your website using SSL encryption security in your host.

Conclusion

By no means are the above tips the only things you should do to help ensure customer data security. But at the very least, making sure your B2B customers are aware that you take the above measures seriously will help make them feel more comfortable buying from you and add legitimacy to your business.



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What It Is & How to Build an Effective One

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What It Is & How to Build an Effective One


In the business world, professionals are obsessed with tactics because they can help them meet their short-term goals. But if all you do is focus on the short-term, you won’t spend enough time or energy figuring out how you can succeed in the long-term.

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the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders

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the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders


This 4-part series presents a framework that helps rationalize the roles and responsibilities modern marketing operations leaders are taking on. This installment summarizes the framework briefly, and dives into how MOps leaders are now “orchestrators.” 

In case you missed it, part 1 is here.

Inspiration for this framework

Two years ago, marketing technology pioneer and chiefmartec.com editor Scott Brinker outlined the four key responsibilities of marketing technologists, summarized here.  

That work espoused the view that you could be both a marketer AND a technology leader. They are not mutually exclusive! It was my inspiration for this framework, explaining how today’s MOps leaders are instrumental for marketing and business success.

X-Axis:  A range of skills from a focus on technology to creativity and arts

Y-Axis: A range of decision-making skills, ranging from emotional to rational approaches

The resulting grid captures four MOps archetypes or “personas.” MOps leaders exhibit characteristics across all parts of this framework and will operate in multiple quadrants, similar to Brinker’s frameworks.

Modernizers – Are most likely to be the “original” technologists, constantly modernizing their martech stack.

Orchestrators – Are the closest to Brinker’s Maestros and the focus of this article. He described this archetype in 2020 as the “Operations Orchestrator — MAESTROS who design and manage the workflows, rules, reports, and tech stacks that run the marketing department.

Psychologists – Are now increasingly responsible for “reading customers’ minds,” i.e. interpreting customers’ interest through intent data and digital engagement.

Scientists – Are constantly testing and evaluating. Experimentation is their specialty.

Orchestrators: Leaders of the band

Now that you’re familiar with the framework, let’s dig deeper into the Orchestrators!

I’ll start with a personal story. My exposure to orchestration started with 8-straight years of practice in violin and trumpet during my formative years. Each week was literally a blur of private lessons, group lessons, orchestra and/or band practice. I probably spent as much time with music directors as I did with my family.  

It was painfully obvious to those conductors when we hadn’t prepared or practiced. Moreso, we would get – literally – an “earful” from the conductor when we were not listening to the other instrument sections. If we were not coordinating our efforts and timing, the outcome was awful for anyone listening.

Source: Unsplash

This orchestration metaphor is powerful because there are multiple levels for MOps leaders:

  • As a project management team within marketing, and often as a conductor across external agency partners.
  • As a cross-function business partner and primary contact for IT, compliance, and legal, in addition to the traditional MOps role of achieving marketing/sales alignment

Notably, all marketers have to be project managers for their own tasks/deadlines. They must be aligned with overall campaign and program timelines. 

However, as organizations scale they are more likely to have dedicated project management teams to handle coordination across the specialist teams within marketing. The orchestration responsibility may include timeline, scope, and capacity trade-offs even after campaign briefs have received approval. 


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The orchestration responsibility multiplies when agency execution teams are delivering on individual tactics and media buys. Last year, Optimizely described these evolving orchestration duties as a “transformative shift and approach towards how marketing synchronizes their teams, content, channels, workflows, and data!”

I believe the shift is even more impactful, with orchestration benefits being felt beyond marketing. The highest value “program orchestration” responsibilities occur when MOps leaders are representing marketing’s interests in enterprise-wide programs with other functions within the organization, including product, compliance, and IT. Examples of orchestration duties with these other key functions can include:

  • Product teams – Coordinating campaigns with major product feature/functionality launches, and managing brand standards.
  • Legal/Compliance – Overseeing compliance with Can-Spam, GDPR, and CCPA, and customer preference and data privacy initiatives that may be initiated by a marketing touch-point. 
  • IT/Procurement – Technology stack management, vendor evaluations and negotiations, platform integrations and data management.

All of this departmental and cross-departmental coordination requires skill sets that can be analogized as the difference between a chamber orchestra (marketing) and a full symphony. It’s the highest level of conducting across the enterprise. 

MOps leaders are holding individuals and teams to target timelines while managing the scope of a particular campaign and business initiative. They do this while also overseeing targeting of customer and prospect segments.

In order to accomplish this complex segmentation and coordination, MOps leaders are now responsible for cross-functional data – embodied by the modern martech stack imperative: integration. Integration across systems has been the #1 issue for marketers since the modern marketing tech stack started exploding in the early 2010’s, but software and solutions providers finally listened. A tipping point was reached in 2020. Marketers reported that we were finally working within an integrated, multi-system environment, according to a CDP Institute member survey analyzed here.  

Continuing with the orchestration analogy, the conductor is the integration “synchronizer,” deciding if/when the data flows across the stack. The sheet music is the data model standard showing how to map common attributes. 

However, just because we now have this more integrated environment does not mean our work is done. The instruments do not play themselves (yet!) and they require configuration and deliberate training to play effectively — both individually and in groups. 

Training was one of the top responsibilities for marketing ops leadership, ranking it in the top 5 of MOPS tasks by percentage of work, according to the 2022 MarTech Salary and Career Survey, published jointly by MarTech and chiefmartec.com (free, ungated download here). conducted by chiefmartec.

In the 2020 version of that same study, training was highlighted as one of the top two responsibilities for many of the primary marketing technologists personas, and 91% of operations orchestrators reported that training and supporting technologies were among their top priorities.

MOps leaders are never done

Finally, under the category of “MOps leaders are never done”, the last several years have also forced a whole new category of orchestration duties – a combination of conducting, training, and martech growth: marketing work management.

The largest growth (67%) over the last several years was in the category of “work management”, according to the 2022 edition of the Martech Landscape. Established entrants such as Adobe expanded with the acquisition of Workfront, while newer players like Trello and Monday gained traction.  

Although this was already a prevailing trend BEFORE the pandemic, the hybrid/remote work environment brought on by the last 2+ years forced these project management and agile-planning tools to the forefront.  The marketing work management category grew to over 1000+ tools, according to the State of Martech 2022

Source: State of MarTech 2022 – chiefmartec.com and Martech Tribe

MOps leaders are Maestros

In summary, modern MOps leaders are indeed Maestros. They are skilled orchestrators, conducting a symphony across multiple levels. They lead:

  • Omni-channel campaigns within marketing and across business functions
  • Integration across an ever-growing, integrated martech stack
  • Training and deployment as one of their primary responsibilities 

Editor’s note: In Part 3 of this 4-part series, Milt will expand on MOps leaders’ growing role as Psychologists. For background on this framework, see Part 1 of this series here


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.



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How to Calculate Your Web Traffic to Increase Website Revenue

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How to Calculate Your Web Traffic to Increase Website Revenue


You want to know how to calculate website traffic. That’s smart since your website’s value is both the traffic AND the revenue it can bring in.

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