Marketers have long since stopped catering to the lowest common denominator. Instead, they’re now leveraging the copious amounts of data we create online to find just the right audience for the products they’re promoting.
Geospatial data is indispensable for modern customer segmentation and profiling. What exactly is geospatial data? How does it benefit marketers’ efforts? Why is taking pains to protect such data crucial? This article explains everything you need to know.
What Is Geospatial Data?
Any data that allows one to determine and track the location of a person or object is geospatial. GPS images of a local road network or a Google Maps overview come to mind first. However, different entities can also collect geospatial data on individuals. This can include their place of work and residence but also go beyond.
Some intrusive apps may collect real-time location data on users. The reasons might be innocuous, like showing you the best restaurants or museums in an area. Others could collect more sensitive information like which places you take your dates to or how much you work out and where.
How does marketing benefit from geospatial data?
Location-based customer information is a boon to marketers for several reasons.
They may use it to improve customer segmentation based on habits and activity levels. Such data is also useful in scoping out the competition and tailoring campaigns to account for local preferences better. Given enough time and quantity, geospatial data can help marketers predict and plan for future demand and launch timely, more successful campaigns.
How Can Marketers Safeguard Geospatial Data?
While it comes with a wealth of understanding for marketers to draw on, geospatial data is also rife for exploitation by bad actors. Inadequate protection measures can lead to data breaches and theft, exposing potentially millions of customers and prospects. Even if the data you collect is anonymized, it doesn’t take much to infer more about an individual with their location and movement habits.
Here are the steps any responsible marketing team should take to reduce the risks.
Prioritizing data quality
Geospatial marketing depends on collecting large amounts of data. However, that’s just the prerequisite. Analysis of this data is what yields the insights marketing strategies depend on, so that’s what you should focus on storing.
Even if the strongest cybersecurity methods somehow fail, you can still protect people’s anonymity by not storing any information that could compromise it in the first place. The correct approach is to focus on bulk data, which is useful for uncovering and taking advantage of local patterns and opportunities.
Even so, some marketing efforts are most successful when interacting with people on a personal level. In that case, being transparent and upfront about the data you collect is crucial. Asking for consent and highlighting how their contribution builds trust while also making your efforts compliant with data protection regulations.
Secure access controls
Not everyone in your organization needs or should have access to the geospatial data you do end up storing. Setting up access controls is a way of minimizing threats from malicious insiders. It also ensures that only trusted actors who have business handling the data can interact with it.
Creating a hierarchy with different user classes and corresponding privileges is best. Very few trusted people have privileged access, while everyone else should only be able to view or alter data within the scope of their responsibilities and current projects.
A comprehensive password policy
Role-based access works only if a unique and complex password secures each account. That’s rarely the case if you leave it up to employees since most will reuse passwords or go with variations on familiar favorites that take little effort to guess, for the convenience’s sake.
Implementing an enterprise-level password manager is an elegant and cost-effective solution to this. Its greatest strength is the ability to create and securely store strong passwords not just for geospatial data access but for any account all employees could need.
Besides that, multifactor authentication is an extra security measure industry-leading managers let you set up for each password. It further enhances account security by requiring a separate code alongside the password whenever someone tries to log in from an unknown device.
A single copy of something as relevant as geospatial data is a considerable risk. Ransomware attacks are on the rise. A single successful one is enough to make the data inaccessible unless you comply. There’s also the matter of power outages and various hazards that could render the hardware you store the data on useless or inaccessible.
Keeping at least two more up-to-date copies of geospatial data is advisable. One can be on a disconnected physical drive, which will protect it from cyberattacks. Using cloud storage for the other offers access control while mitigating physical risks.
Encryption at rest and in transit
Securely storing geospatial data is important, but not enough. Encryption adds another layer of protection that makes it impossible to make sense of the contents. Even if someone were to steal the encrypted data, it would be useless without a decryption key.
Local encryption takes care of data at rest but is also vulnerable when shared. A marketing team can have members working from home or somewhere else in the world. They all need a secure means of accessing geospatial data and sharing their work, which business VPNs deal with expertly.
Connecting through a VPN ensures encrypted data sharing and complete anonymity. That way, no one can track interactions between team members and wouldn’t be able to benefit even if they could. This one solution is a viable alternative to the safeguards companies set on their main network while protecting anyone using a VPN’s encrypted tunnel wherever they’re connecting from.
Needless to say, market is brimming with a lot of options when it comes to VPNs. Yet, businesses need a thorough comparison before they commit to a provider. In this case, sources like VPN comparison table comes in handy to make decision processes effective and easier.
Geospatial data has become an indispensable wellspring of information for marketers. Knowing how to collect and protect such data guarantees its continued relevance and usefulness for many more upcoming campaigns.
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco