Don’t get too personal: Tips for collecting customer data

By Henry Brown

Recent studies have highlighted the concern customers have around how companies collect their data. And then what they do to use it and safeguard it. For many consumers, not having a data protection policy that is up to par can make them spend elsewhere. So as small business owners, this is an area of operations that we need to make sure we are up to date on and that we’re managing our customer’s data well.

In fact, anything from a blog to an online store needs to think about the privacy of their customers and even just site visitors. Take the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) that has come into force over Europe recently. You might be wondering what is GDPR, for starters, but it is something that we’ll go into. Basically, the EU has created stricter data protection laws and how data is stored and collected. But the thing is that it isn’t just about businesses based in Europe. If you have European customers or site visitors, then you need to be abiding too. Which is why social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have recently updated their privacy policy. So I’ll ask again, are you up to date with this kind of thing?

[amazon_link asins=’B000FA5M8A’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeeding0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ee38d521-6fd1-11e8-8fdd-fb8b5aab61ea’]Give customers options

Having a privacy policy in place is key for all websites, even if it is just a personal blog. Luckily, there are plenty of plugins that you can use to make sure you’re adhering and that you have the right information displayed on-screen. Transparency is key when it comes to data collection. Give the option to opt-out, as well as telling them where they can find out about what happens to their data. Ask before you take any data, and you will be keeping customers. If you don’t, and you sign someone up to your newsletter without permission, for example, then that is a breach, and could lose you customers.

Another important point to note is to only take the information that you need. If you start asking for a lot of details when putting a transaction through on your website, then it is going to put customers off. They don’t want to give you everything. So don’t ask for it; only ask for what you need. Using asterisks on a form can help, to show what information they do need to provide. Anything else needs to be shown as optional, and they can choose whether to give it or not.

Sadly, some data breaches still do happen. But you need to make sure you are doing all you can to avoid such problems. Updating your website and plugins regularly will allow the newest versions to be used, which are more than likely the safest ones. Change passwords regularly, and keep other information safe. Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to your customer’s data, and it can cost your business if you don’t do anything about it. Paying for the best software can be a good way to future-proof your business and the data that it does have to handle.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.


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