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White Paper. Why e-mail marketers must care about data security

White Paper. Why e-mail marketers must care about data security


Effective e-mail marketing requires large amounts of specific data about customers, their preferences, their habits, their behavior, their financial situation, their health concerns, their households, and more. Without data you can only blast out undifferentiated bulk mail to a list you are sure to fatigue.

The imperative today is to deliver highly relevant content at the right time to each individual on your list so that you both maximize your results and keep your customers for the long term.

And those golden long-term customers will have more and more historical data associated with them over time — data that could put you and them at risk if not handled correctly. Yet many e-mail marketers seem unaware of this possibility.

New Security Imperative

The old security imperative is obvious and still as relevant as ever: e-mail marketing data has value to you and presumably others and like any other valuable asset you want to protect it.
But recently an even greater security imperative has emerged — your customers care about protecting the privacy of their data and they have made it clear to the government, the regulators, and their legislators that data protection and data privacy is critical.

The recent losses of personal data by major banks, retailers, and even government agencies have resulted in front-page headlines. The losses also have triggered regulatory and legislative investigations.

Beyond the public embarrassment and corresponding damage to reputation and brand image for the companies involved, data loss raises the risk of regulatory fines, liability, and litigation.

Security Process

Not every bit of data, of course, needs full protection. Statistical data and generalized syndicated demographic and geographic data are valuable to you as a marketer, but require less stringent security because they don’t contain personally identifiable information.

It is identifiable, customer-specific data that is of the highest concern and presents the greatest risk. Moreover, it also is the most valuable of all data to you as a marketer.

This high risk/high value customer data can be jeopardized in a number of ways:
- Backup tapes can be lost in transit to a disaster recovery site or offsite warehouse

- The data center itself can be hacked from either inside or outside
- Laptops containing sensitive customer data can be left on the seat of a taxi in the rush to a meeting

- Even working wirelessly from Starbucks with your laptop can put customer-specific data at risk
All that said, data security concerns need not stop a marketer from pursuing relevant e-mail marketing campaigns. There is a straightforward, three-step solution for the problem of protecting customer-specific data that reflects sound management processes.

Specifically, companies must:

1. Adopt a set of industry accepted and certified security best practices, such as ISO 27001, addressing everything from designating someone in charge of security to classifying data to establishing audit procedures and more

2. Implement ISO 27001 as best practices and educate everyone as to their role in protecting this important asset

3. Let a certified third-party auditor test your adherence to the best practice policies and procedures defined

For the marketer, especially the e-mail marketer, security must now become a top priority. Customer lists, purchase history, call center interaction logs, Web behavior, and more may all be considered in various circumstances as containing customer-specific, personally identifiable data that mustbe protected.

Security and E-mail Outsourcing

Outsourcing has emerged as a mainstream business strategy for organizations everywhere. Marketers, in particular, are opting for outsourcing to improve their marketing campaigns, increase their agility and responsiveness, and reduce costs.

According to Forrester Research in its recent report titled ‘The E-mail Marketing Vendor Landscape’, most marketers (94 per cent) are currently using, piloting, or planning to pilot e-mail marketing programs. More than half (58 per cent) deliver e-mail through an outsourced solution provider.

JupiterResearch found a similar trend, as it noted in a report titled Optimizing Transactional E-mail Messages: 58 per cent of e-mail marketers surveyed expressed interest in outsourcing transactional e-mail to e-mail service providers, with B2C marketers being most inclined.

In addition, 65 per cent of marketers that already outsource e-mail marketing are amenable to outsourcing transactional messaging. “Large B2C marketers typically outsource promotional e-mail and generally employ sophisticated (relevance) tactics compared to B2B,” the researchers added.

Marketers, it turns out, readily outsource e-mail initiatives, and they want to enhance those efforts with more and more customer-specific data. That, however, raises concerns among data security officers already rightfully worried about letting this information out of their direct control.
Outsourcing certainly does not relieve the company of its responsibility to protect customer-identifiable data. To the contrary, when a company plans to trust customer-specific data to an outsourcing partner, it needs to be certain the vendor is as capable and trustworthy in protecting the data as the marketer, or more so.

Choosing a Secure E-mail Service Provider

Marketers have an obligation to be careful in choosing an e-mail service provider since their organization continues to be responsible for protecting its customer-specific data. Not every service provider, however, is capable or qualified to protect valuable, sensitive data.

With the advent of the ISO 27001 certification for security processes, marketers now have a clear way to identify those e-mail service providers who are capable of protecting sensitive data and are certified to do so.

The ISO 27001 certification, like the widely recognized ISO 9000 certification for documenting and managing business processes that preceded it, identifies organizations that have the processes and capabilities in place to protect sensitive data in its care.

Before an organization receives the ISO 27001 certification, it must meet a series of exacting requirements and pass a detailed review conducted and validated by outside certified experts.
IS0 27001 certification requires an e-mail service provider strictly follows a set of stringent business practices and policies that have been developed to facilitate data security and systems uptime, limit vulnerabilities, mitigate risks, and perform other steps, all of which ensure the security of your data.

IS0 27001 certification requires an e-mail service provider strictly follows a set of stringent business practices and policies that have been developed to facilitate data security and systems uptime, limit vulnerabilities, mitigate risks, and perform other steps, all of which ensure the security of your data.

More than just a code of practice, ISO 27001 puts into place a rigorous system of measurements and processes that include physical access restrictions, network security, state-of-the-art intrusion and virus protection, controls around code changes for system stability and business continuity, and requirements for auditing, management accountability, and continuous improvement.

It is a rigorous process, and not every e-mail service provider will dedicate the time, effort, and resources needed to achieve ISO 27001 certification.
Benefits of Selecting an ISO 27001-Certified E-mail Service Provider

Only by selecting an ISO 27001-certified e-mail service provider, such as e-Dialog, can marketers be assured that all their data, including their critical customer-specific data, will be protected to the fullest extent possible.

Short of investing the considerable time, effort, and resources themselves to achieve the ISO 27001 certification, marketers that want to ensure the protection of customer-specific data need to find ISO 27001-certified partners.

“Organizations will embrace this standard [ISO 27001] to validate security of a client, business partner, outsourcing partner, or any third party associated with it.

Companies that choose not to pursue this certification can quickly lose ground in the global economy to competitors that are willing to get certified,” according to Forrester Research, in a recent report on ISO 27001.

For e-mail marketers who need ISO 27001-certified security, JupiterResearch pointed out in its latest annual ESP Buyer’s Guide that “e-Dialog is the first ESP to receive ISO 27001 certification for information security, signaling that its data integration, storage, and security are in order.”

For Jupiter, e-Dialog’s ISO 27001 certification helped propel it to leadership among ESPs in terms of both overall business value and market suitability.

Use of an ISO 27001-certified service provider like e-Dialog brings numerous benefits:
- Greater security for your data

- Improved corporate and IT governance
- Increased credibility with customers, regulators, compliance auditors

- Increased confidence in your e-mail program by top management, corporate security, internal auditors
- Improved brand reputation

- Effective security risk mitigation

With its industry pioneering ISO 27001 certification, e-Dialog brings a new level of security assurance and data protection to e-mail programs, relieving the marketer of yet another critical task.

This increased assurance comes at a critical time when customers, auditors, regulators, and litigators are putting pressure on any organization that collects and uses data on identifiable individuals.

By partnering with an ISO 27001-certified organization like e-Dialog, you can be confident that your e-mail programs will pass the most rigorous scrutiny and that your valuable data assets will be fully protected.


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