Marketers tackle data collection challenges

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Crabtree & Evelyn is using a centralized CRM system to keep data more secure for its loyalty program
Crabtree & Evelyn is using a centralized CRM system to keep data more secure for its loyalty program

With so much customer data flooding in from so many channels, it is imperative that marketers effectively store, process, clean and use digital information.

Over the past year, the marketing industry was plagued by several high-profile data breaches that threatened the very existence of online data collection and behavioral targeting. It is a challenge for large organizations to keep data safe when it is not unusual to have various different people, departments and even outside agencies touching this information.

“Breaches occur because more and more information is getting collected these days,” says Spyro Kourtis, president and CEO of Hacker Group. “All of these companies have more people across departments and groups within the company collecting more information and having access to it across the company. And many marketers are working with a few different partners who have access to this data, and that makes it more at risk.”

In a move to keep its customer experience universal across the brand and safe across digital channels, the American Red Cross is currently in the process of bringing together its database from hundreds of local chapters across the country into one centralized CRM database.

“We recognize that a consolidated database is important to creating a 360-degree view of the donor, and we are trying to take a donor-specific approach,” says Jennifer Elwood, executive director of consumer marketing at the American Red Cross.

Marketers apply analysis and organization to data collection

With the increasing amount of customer data available to marketers these days, information gathering can be overwhelming.

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This is not a simple task. A customer might show up in multiple databases, and updates he might have shared may have only ended up in one place, making him look like two different customers. “We do a lot of work around data transfers to make sure that we are getting updated information and that the chapters are sending us refreshes,” she adds. “We are working on centralizing this so that it all comes out of the same database.”

Data security and consolidation

Keeping a centralized database serves two purposes — it helps marketers streamline messaging and provide customers with a better experience, and it helps keep the company's customer data private and secure.

To ensure that all of its data is being kept secure, American Red Cross is practicing what Elwood calls “data reverence.” The organization is Payment Card Industry compliant and it makes certain that all donor data is encrypted. In addition, the nonprofit does not sell data to third parties. “Security is absolutely paramount,” Elwood says. “We have to be really diligent about it and are constantly monitoring our security procedures from a fraud perspective. Our donors put their trust in us, and all of that information will remain secure and confidential.”

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