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May 2018 signified a substantial change in the way companies harvest data and, subsequently, utilise the information. The GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulations, was introduced in an attempt to corrupt agencies and businesses from selling data and using ‘unethical’ means to source personal data. After several reports suggested consumers had little faith in brands using their personal data, the GDPR was born.

Open Data v GDPR

From transport companies using bus route data to improve services to supermarkets monitoring our shopping behaviour to personalise and provide offers - consumer data is immensely valuable. Despite its prevalence, many companies today are still unaware of open data sets, essentially, public data on those very same customers and the prevalence today.

While many companies will hold data on their consumer, used for marketing and internal service improvements, open data sets are also an unrivalled source of information. The term ‘open data’ refers to public data, open to all companies and companies to use, share and access.

Open data is critical to business today - particularly for those that suffered losses when consumers opted to remove their information from the existing database. You can make huge use of an open data platform, basically providing business mailing lists for free. Today, many companies are already jumping on the wave of open data to improve their customer service and develop and launch new products. Similarly, the scope of the data available and advancements open companies up to more possibilities.

Privacy issues

As mentioned above, customer mailing lists and direct marketing lists are used in everyday life. However, privacy issues and implications have led to customer distrust. Today’s technology is developing at a rapid rate, so it’s not unusual for people to wonder what we know and, subsequently, how we are using the info. Likewise, technological jargon can cause significant misunderstanding.
To combat these issues, the GDPR was introduced to safeguard the data of all European consumers. For those companies based out of Europe - but sell to European consumers - the regulations still apply. As such, the law will transform how businesses obtain and handle the data, thus the rise in open data sets.

What are the risks with GDPR?

Compliance with the GDPR is mandatory for all organisations that use and share the data of European citizens. Essentially, the new GDPR rules state that consumers must provide consent to their data being used, and have the ‘right to be forgotten’ at all times. Non-compliance can result in significant financial penalties.

Many companies are still unsure of the effects of the regulations and, subsequently, unambiguous consent means all brands must rethink how they manage data. For those buying business mailing lists and looking to ensure they are, in turn, GDPR mailing lists - you may require additional talent with specialised data skills and even update internal systems. GDPR also requires companies to share more detailed information with their prospects, detailing the purpose of taking the data, the retention and the original source of the personal data.

Even if you do all of the above, you still risk losing valued customers who chose to opt-out of any further marketing. This is where open data comes into play.

Are there any risks involved with open data?

Cutting straight to the chase, no there aren’t any risks involved with open data. All information stored on an open data platform is public data - meaning anyone can access the information for marketing purposes. Importantly, the data sets are not personalised, so do not reveal in-depth information, but provide a general scope to begin niche targeting. For instance, a leisure centre can create direct marketing lists through nearby postcodes, sending out an initial ‘awareness of the brand’ mail. They can then measure who responds, and further prioritise the areas that are of the most value.

Opportunities for the future

GDPR’s core principles to place the control of personal data is a positive step forward for both open data and hyper-personalised data. The expense of data breaches when it comes to the regulations further enhances the open data movement, and also forces companies to consider the potential of the data they are already sitting on. For customers, this means more personalised content and marketing messages that are especially relevant to your life - everyone wins.
When used properly, the opportunities for open data in creating business mailing lists and direct marketing lists is exponential. For instance, the NHS recently shared their commercial data, thus leading the Cardiothoracic Surgery to openly release their data regarding heart surgery. In response, idata - an app providing clinicians, patients and researchers the ability to measure, filter and scrutinise surgery data - emerged. The response to this app has proved bigger than expected, significantly reducing the number of deaths relating to heart surgery by 1,000 annually. Similarly, open data can be leveraged to assess any risks associated with public transport, for example, and put in place risk assessments to protect the public.

Another major opportunity for public or open data is that is can be used by anyone - whether large-scale corporations or SMEs. You can use the data to identify particular gaps within your industry and build on your existing customer base. Hairdressers can target postcodes within a specific area; gardeners can target affluent locations etc. - the opportunities are endless. Once you have built the initial foundations of the relationship with your consumers, you can begin segmenting the data into categories of high value, thus increasing revenue.

Also, an open data platform - such as MyOpenData - is free for all to join, use and share the data for your marketing campaigns. There’s no need to buy mailing lists anymore - especially as the free mailing lists are GDPR compliant.

For those interested in the scope of public data and using an open data platform - you can read more on the benefits of open data here.

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