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I sat at the end of last year beginning to plan for the coming year. It’s always a time of excitement for me as Group Head of Marketing for Haines Watts in the UK.  I talk to our key suppliers and our marketing team and discuss what we want to achieve and we brainstorm ideas for the coming year.  This is normally a really creative time deciding the types of campaigns we want to produce, the messages we want to convey to the business owner marketplace and how we can do that in the most creative way to achieve our objectives.

Whilst we still did that thinking, a lot of our discussion at the end of last year centred on one topic…Data! Not the most exciting part of marketing but one that is fundamentally important as the foundation of everything we do.

With General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) looming, it was something we couldn’t avoid. GDPR will regulate all data held by any organisation – including the data we use for marketing. GDPR will come into force on 25 May 2018. If companies don’t follow the regulations, the fines can be up to 4% of turnover.

But rather than see this as an inconvenience, we decided to use the change in regulations to not only tackle GDPR but to try and improve our data quality as a whole. So how do we tackle this with 60 locations, numerous businesses and numerous databases?  Just understanding what marketing data we have, its origins, where it’s stored, who has access to it and the quality of that data is our first task. 

Initially, this being done via online survey to our offices with a rigorous set of questions to ascertain where we are today with data. We’re also in the process of planning how we capture an opt-in audit trail for our data across numerous databases and via our website to comply with GDPR. 

We also want to improve the quality of our data overall through education of our marketing and administration people who are responsible for data day to day. We need to improve our email data by minimising generic email addresses and ensure the data is up to date and still fits our core target market.  We also have to educate our businesses on GDPR legislation and the importance of good quality data overall.

So the coming months will see us hosting a series of seminars and webinars to educate and help our businesses improved the quality of data and prepare for GDPR. Am I excited by this project as a marketer?  Not really, it’s not sexy, it’s not creative, but I understand the importance of data as the foundation of everything we do.  There’s no point in spending many hours and considerable budget on great marketing campaigns if it’s sent to bad quality data.  After all, we can’t get great results if we don’t have great data.

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