Compliance: The Final Frontier

A Guide to Data Privacy in the Era of GDPR, Part IV

Our three previous blogs have delivered you to the shore of a new world – one where consumers can see and control what happens to their digital presence, and where companies are expected to actively protect, serve, and empower them. You’re on the cusp of compliance: you’ve built the necessary policies and processes, and have cultivated a compliance-positive culture within your organization. Stepping onto that shore is stepping into the future, and the future is where true compliance lies.

So far, our focus has been on making material changes to your business. But we have approached them as point-in-time efforts; we didn’t pay much attention to the living nature of the future work they represent.  The new concepts of data protection and compliance live and breathe.  They evolve over time, which means that your company, and everything you’ve just built, needs to as well.

So how do you meet this challenge?  How do you stay compliant?

In the simplest terms, there are three aspects of GDPR, CCPA, and beyond that need constant focus and care:

  1. Co-managing consumer data with your partners
  2. Assisting your partners with their compliance practices
  3. Keeping your business in sync with new and evolving laws

We’ll delve more deeply into these topics in the SIGMA Insight, but I still want to emphasize their importance here.  If your efforts stop at your company’s border, and only your link in the data chain is strong, then you and all your partners won’t achieve compliance.  This is an opportunity for your company to become a leader in the space.  That’s what we have done here at SIGMA.

Your company must provide a guiding hand to all your partners. Test and question their practices, suggest improvements, and be firm when you need to.  It’s okay – and, in fact, a recommendation of the GDPR – to refuse to work with partners who can’t or won’t follow these laws. Lead by example and share what you know, and if necessary, flex your muscles at contract time. Make it known that you’ll only partner with companies who take consumer protection as seriously as you do, and who are always trying to be good digital guardians of the consumer information we know to be dearest.

When it comes to actions you take on behalf of a consumer, make sure you share what you’ve been told to do, whenever you’re told to do it.  Keep an open hotline to your partners, and again be a leader who ensures that everyone works in concert when there’s a data task in the offing.

Finally, and as important as anything we’ve done on this journey, keep your eyes and ears open for everything new that’s coming. In January 2020, you’ll be compliant with 2018 GDPR and ready for CCPA 1.0.  But you need to be ready for the possible 2020 and beyond GDPR revisions, CCPA 1.5 and 2.0, and whatever new state, federal, and world laws are announced in February, June, and December. Keep your data protection team activated, and be ready to leverage everything you’ve already learned to keep yourself ahead of the curve.

Thanks for taking this journey with us. Be sure to read our upcoming SIGMA Insight for an in-depth look at all things GDPR and CCPA, and how your company can join SIGMA as champions of consumer data protection.

Putting it All Together

In our first two installments of this blog series, we introduced the GDPR and CCPA, and helped you look inward at your organization to understand your company’s data protection practices. The grand plan, of course, is to move you from general awareness to restructuring your organization so it can thrive in the new era of digital data protection. That restructuring is the topic of today’s blog.  (And remember, at the end of this series, we’ll be publishing a full Insight on Data Privacy and Protection, so don’t forget to keep checking back!)

If you’ve done your due diligence, you’re reading this armed with a solid understanding of how data courses through your enterprise. You know how it enters, who touches it, what happens to it, where it goes, and how it’s expunged.  You know who is allowed to see it – or at least who is supposed to be allowed – and you understand the controls you have in place to manage it.  And you know what the GDPR and CCPA require in terms of new functionality: consumer contact tools, information disclosures, paper trails, etc.  Now it’s time make the material changes that will establish your company as compliant.

Writing new policies/controls can be time-consuming and complex, but shouldn’t be seen as a crisis.  You’ll probably engage a committee or have a leadership review, run through a few drafts as you find that the initial concept hits some technological snags, and ultimately come away with something robust and streamlined that fits fully with the privacy laws you’re trying to abide. When you’re comfortable with it, implement it. Everything you’ve done before is prologue – the main story starts now.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one challenge you could face: for some companies, the cultural shift that goes hand-in-hand with these policies might be harder to manage than their actual rollout. For example, some companies have an informal, honor system-based access request process: Analyst Bob asks IT Kyle for access to ABC Widget’s customer database because he needs to do some work, and IT Kyle bops into Active Directory to grant it. While that works in the pre-GDPR world, it’s forbidden in the compliant one. Forcing Analyst Bob and IT Kyle to file a form, cite the proper business justification, and leave an easy-to-follow paper trail, could be jarring – and actually seen as a barrier to productivity.  Same with Marketer Sheila who wants to email a spreadsheet of contacts to Data Processor Tina at your subsidiary in Tacoma.  So you’ll need to work internally to demonstrate the value of the new processes, while acknowledging that things might not be as easy as they were in the wild frontier-land your old processes created.

Next, you’ll deploy your new contact forms, open an 800 number, and validate your information request and action certification forms. If all goes well, you are almost ready to open your doors to the new land of compliance.

Tune in next week for the final stop on this journey…

Knowledge is Power

A Guide to Data Privacy in the Era of GDPR, Part II

When last we left you, you were staring into the jungle of data protection laws known as the GDPR and CCPA. The question at hand was where to begin.

Charting a path through unknown territory, especially with these laws’ high stakes, seems like a daunting task. By reading this far, you’ve developed a sense of what’s ahead, and understand that making these changes is not going to be a quick weekend effort. But without a map to guide you, you can’t see your way to success. That said, it’s impossible to craft a good one right out of the gate; you’ll build your map as you head toward complete compliance. It all depends on your organization’s current state.

As the title of this post suggests, knowledge is powerful. You’ll need to thoroughly understand your company’s systems and practices to complete the hard work ahead. That’s how you should frame this first part of your data protection work: a survey of the terrain, and a discovery of what you don’t know about the consumer data in your care, and the structures that support it.

Think of it as an audit, but with a focus on system security, access privileges, and data sharing. Start by examining everything. Involve your IT teams, your security managers, your data analysts and more. Get to know exactly how your company works, and then document it. Because that’s the map you actually need, and the foundation for the work we’ll talk about in our next post.

Stay tuned for part three of this blog, and SIGMA’s upcoming Insight on the subject.

Welcome to the Jungle

A Guide to Data Privacy in the Era of GDPR, Part I

In 2018, the European Union enacted a regulation on the protection of personal data, and the free movement of such data, entitled the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. It stands out as the most comprehensive and optimistic attempt to protect consumer data in the digital age. It establishes strict rules for data processing, details citizen’s rights regarding their data, and envisages a penalty structure for companies that act carelessly or in bad faith. Most importantly, this law started a conversation on data privacy that resonates globally, and which has already spawned the first American privacy bill, The California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA.

If you work with consumer data, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with common privacy regulations, security best practices, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of a breach. The GDPR and CCPA raise the stakes, and are likely the first wave of an oncoming tide of similar laws. And while European companies have already largely reconfigured their practices to comply with the GDPR, many American companies haven’t. Multinationals are already playing by the new rules, but smaller companies – companies with only local ties and no contact with Europe – have yet to begin. For them, it’s the January 2020 enactment of the CCPA that turns this from a distant concern to an immediate need. Your company may not market widgets in the EU, but there’s a good chance that you’ve got data on at least one Californian widget buyer. That means the CCPA applies to you.

“But wait,” you say, “I run a little mom-and-pop operation in Des Moines, Iowa, and my website only gets 1,000 visitors a year, and I’m really not known outside my county. Surely none of this applies to me.”  It’s true that if you aren’t currently holding data on citizens covered by the laws, then you really don’t have anything new to comply with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t, and certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. These two regulations are the first falling pebbles of a landslide of consumer protections that will eventually reach into every business in America – including those little shops in Des Moines. Consumers want to be protected, and business should want to protect them.

There is already a lot to unpack with GDPR and CCPA. They represent a formidable amount of work, like auditing and analyzing business practices, developing and testing systems and security controls, deploying new web sites and phone numbers, and establishing new ways of doing business. The timer is already running, accompanied by whispers of more new laws on the horizon. Companies need to start working today, and need to internalize what these laws represent, so that this workload doesn’t become a barrier to survival. It’s time to act.

That brings us to a critical question: where do we begin?

Stay tuned for part two of this blog, and an upcoming SIGMA Insight on the subject.

Respect the email: The power of email click-through rates and member renewals

Note: this is the third in a series of three blogs exploring member renewals for museums and nonprofits. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 on our Insights Blog.

We all know it: our members are our most invested and passionate audiences. They care about our mission, they know our exhibits and they love to bring friends. But sometimes, it’s a mystery on how to get new members to renew and become those die-hard super fans. How do we guide them along the path to becoming more engaged, supportive, active members of our community?

This week, we’ve been exploring this question using answers from a Member Renewal Model—a predictive tool that uses lifetime member data to identify the most important variables that affect renewal rates—we built for one of our museum clients earlier this year. They have a goal this year to improve first and second year member renewal rates and so we turned to the data to find some powerful, actionable insights on controllable variables for them to test.

Earlier this week, we explored the opportunity of soliciting small donations from members and the relationship between an onsite visit and a member’s expiration date. For our third and final insight, we turned to the world of email marketing to see how that impacts member renewals.

 

Member Renewal Insight #3: Members who click on their emails are more likely to renew

As a former museum email marketing manager, I can personally attest to the challenges of using such a strong communication channel in the best way possible. Between balancing various departments’ needs to promote programs or raise funds along with providing mission-based messaging and educational content to increase audience engagement, email is a perfect storm. Communicating the importance of this channel to museum leadership in an understandable way was important to me, and it’s my own personal goal to help others do the same for their institutions.

Knowing the power of this channel, we explored a wide array of email behaviors to make sure our renewal model truly tested the relationship between member email engagement and renewal as well. The findings give us some solid numbers: Members with a 0% click-through rate renew at 45% while members at the industry average click-through rate (between 25-31+% for most) have renewal rates over 62%.

More importantly, click through rates tell us how much folks are reacting to our emails and the general content as well. The strong relationship between good click through rates and renewal rates indicates a couple immediate actions for us to take: first, it underlines that our email focus needs to be on testing for the best email content – we need to ensure emails are written for the right audience, are engaging, and have the right pieces of content and not just all the content. Second, it gives us a clear KPI to focus on for engagement – click through rate not open rate – and a rationale for why that is our KPI. Finally, it underlines the value of an email to a member and gives a real statistic behind why the email marketing plan should be built on respect and audience-focused messaging.

Museum member renewal rates and visitation: get them in before they expire!

Note: this is the second in a series of three blogs exploring member renewals for museums and nonprofits. The first one explored the relationship between donations and renewals. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for notifications when the last one comes out.

Earlier this week, we kicked off a mini-series exploring some key variables that affect member renewals for one of our clients, a history museum in Michigan, and the overall insights that speak to the nonprofit, museum, and cultural sectors on a whole.

We’ve been working with this museum for over 8 years to use data, analysis, and insights to better understand their members. This year, we have a clear goal: improve first and second year renewal rates. Not surprisingly, we turned to the data to find fact-based solutions and built a Member Renewal Model – a predictive tool that uses lifetime member data to identify the most important variables that we can control to positively change a member’s renewal rate.

While the model overall yielded a lot of really useful results, there were three really powerful variables that emerged that prove some key insights (and for those of us in the museum world, prove some long-rumored hypotheses!) that we can use various channels and tactics to try to control.

On Monday we explored the first insight, proving the power of small donations to member renewal. Today, we look at the relationship between visitation and renewing on time.

Member Renewal Insight #2: Members who visit within 90 days before their renewal date are more likely to renew

Or, to rephrase, the longer it’s been since a member has visited the museum, the less likely they are to renew. Let’s change that!

We investigated this relationship between renewal, visitation, and number of days before expiration date after reading Colleen Dilenschneider’s piece, Why Expired Members Do Not Renew Their Memberships. In short, she noted that one of the reasons lapsed members did not renew was that they planned to renew at their next visit. Which tells a larger story that the lapsed member never came in to visit and a larger action is needed to catch that slip in advance.

We decided to dig into this idea for our client and their members and found some important numbers to back this up on their end:

To start with the obvious, members who only visit near the start of their membership year renew at 21.4%. No one is probably surprised by this, but it’s always good when your data confirms assumptions.

More excitingly, there is a sweet spot in the data: a member who visits within the last 90 days before renewal sees a solid renewal rate between 60-67%. Within the last 30 days, we also know that front of house staff are trained to engage and remind members that their membership is about to expire to help accelerate any renewals right on the spot, but overall this tells us that a visit close to the membership expiration date really helps a member’s likelihood to renew.

We also checked overall frequency of visitation to see if we could find any other data trends that could help our goal to improve renewals. One other key point we found was: members who visit the institution three times in first five months have an average 67.5% renewal rate (a little higher than our group visiting 90 days before their expiration date). However, there are significantly more members (almost three times more) who visit in the last 90 days rather than those who visit three times in the first five months. If our overall goal is to identify actions that can improve the overall renewal rates for the most members, in terms on messaging, staff time, and member time it appears that driving a member to visit within the last 90 days before their renewal date will positively affect more people and ask less of everyone: it’s one ask (rather than three), it lets the museum team focus their messaging, and is the more likely behavior for more members.

Again, for those of us in the museum and cultural organizations sphere, it’s not too surprising that members who visit the museum are more likely to renew. They like you! Of course they’re going to come back! What this data does tell us is that there is a sweet spot and an opportunity to put it to use. It lets the museum focus visitation messaging on a smaller window to streamline communications, better segment their member base, and drive an overall better result from their members for all.

One last note: we can’t not mention the 49% renewal rate for a batch identified as “no visit.” The majority of this group are Year 3 and up members who are more invested in the museum overall. Since we’re focusing on raising the renewal rate for first and second year members, we wanted to look at actions and engagements that can help those groups.

Yes, small donations are huge for nonprofit member renewals

Note: this is the first in a series of three blogs exploring member renewals for museums and nonprofits. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for notifications when the other two come out.

For the past 8 years, we have had the honor to work with a history museum in the Midwest with great audience goals and a robust membership program. In that time, we have used data, analysis, and insights to better understand their members and find the best ways to deliver audience-focused messaging to drive action and grow their relationship with this institution. From behavioral segments, to event engagement, to direct digital marketing, it has genuinely been some of our team’s favorite work.

Most recently, we’ve been tackling the goal to improve first and second year member renewal rates. We turned to data to help us find fact-based solutions to this challenge and we built a Member Renewal Model – a predictive tool that uses extensive member data to identify the key variables that we can control to improve their likelihood to renew.

As a former museum professional myself, there are plenty of hypotheses and trends in this sphere when it comes to improving membership engagement and renewal. What was so powerful about this model, however, is that we were able to prove some key factors that affect how members are renewing and put real data behind a plan to move forward.

This week I’ll be sharing three of those key variables, because they are essential to making a positive change, but also because they’re valuable enough that we hope other institutions might be able to put them to use too. Enjoy!

Member Renewal Insight #1: Members who donate even small amounts ($1-$100) are more likely to renew

It is not at all a surprising concept that members who support and donate to the museum, beyond the cost of their membership, are more likely to renew. For those of us in the nonprofit or cultural sectors, it’s why we focus giving campaigns and special events on members, as we know they’re just overall more likely to support the organization.

What was so powerful to prove for this institution, though, was the importance of small donations. When we turned to the data, we discovered a gigantic jump between members who donate $0 as compared to members who donate just $1 to $100. In short, we see a lift from a 52% renewal rate to a 77% renewal rate. That’s huge!

While small gifts might not make a huge difference to a museum’s overall budget over the course of a year, if it means that soliciting small gifts from members could improve renewal rates by 47%, those small gifts suddenly seem so much more powerful.

This ties in with the increasingly popular concept that folks become members at their preferred organizations primarily to support the organization (and not just for the access or financial benefits that come along with being a member). We’re in an era where an invested member understands the importance of their individual support and sees themselves as a part of the museum’s success, making those small gifts easier to attain and strengthen the relationship between member and organization.

NAMA Post-Show

Last week, SIGMA team members Ruth Altpeter, Director of Account Services and Mallory Tabolt, Senior Account Manager attended the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Conference in Kansas City, MO. The NAMA conference is an opportunity for agri-marketing professionals to network and attend learning sessions highlighting new ideas and strategies specific to the agricultural industry. This year’s conference theme, “Onward and Upward” was displayed through exciting and interactive breakout sessions, networking opportunities and events.

Each year, the NAMA conference provides an important opportunity for our Ag portfolio teams to meet with clients and partners while brushing up the newest and greatest strategies for marketing in the ever-changing agricultural industry. Following this year’s conference, our team shared their takeaways from their time in Kansas City.

Takeaways from the Agri-Marketing Conference:

1. NAMA isn’t just a noun, it’s also a verb

As NAMA’s National President, Sheri Seger stated, “NAMA is also a verb.” As in, “we are going to NAMA the heck out of this conference.” For the agri-marketing industry, NAMA isn’t simply an organization or an event but is also a way to describe attendee actions and attitudes during the week-long conference.

2. Magicians can teach you about agri-marketing

Well, maybe not agri-marketing specifically, but entrepreneur, magician and keynote speaker, Vinh Giang led our team’s favorite session which focused on perception, influence and crafting solutions for “re-imagining and overcoming the impossible” when it comes to strategic marketing.

3. The secret to increasing exhibit booth traffic is puppies

As marketing professionals, we tend to consider ourselves creative individuals but at NAMA, The Sandbox Agency beat us all with their #Sandboxtotherescue campaign, which brought approximately a dozen puppies to their booth from a local shelter. The draw for attendees? Go to the booth and cuddle an adorable puppy while the Sandbox team talked about their services. We call that a win-win.

4. Hackonomy is a real word

According to keynote speaker Bonin Bough, hackonomy is defined as creating value by breaking things. Bough explained how as agencies, we need to break the norms and push through the traditional processes of what has already been done to take our marketing to the next level. Bough shared case studies demonstrating his hackonomy successes based on his experience working for companies such as PepsiCo and Modelez International (formerly Kraft Foods.)

5. Your ‘Top 5’ will define your future

Believe it or not the highlight of our team’s trip wasn’t the KC barbecue or the 80 degree weather, but rather a specific idea that was brought up at the conference. The idea that conference attendees were asked to think about was that professionally, you are a reflection of the top 5 people you spend the most time with. The concept forced our team members to reflect on who they spend most of their professional life with and what other types of individuals they may want to bring into their inner circle in order to meet their professional goals in the future. If you want to improve your public speaking and your top 5 does not include someone who excels in that area, you need find an individual with this quality and make a point to spend more time with them.

Commodity Classic Recap

Earlier this month, SIGMA team members Gregg Sullivan, COO and Mallory Tabolt, Senior Account Manager traveled to Orlando, FL for Commodity Classic 2019. Commodity Classic is the largest farm-focused trade show in the U.S. and hosts thousands of visitors seeking new technology, equipment and the opportunity to meet with vendors and partners.

Over the three days that our team members attended the show they were able to attend learning sessions at the Commodity Classic Main Stage, meet with clients and partners, attend the American Soybean Association (ASA) Awards Banquet and check out the new innovations that the Ag Industry has in store for the upcoming year.

After sitting at the ASA Awards Banquet on Friday night, Gregg said, “I feel honored to be a part of such a strong community. From presenters, to honorees, to the work that brought us all together, it is clear this is a group of people across hundreds of businesses who all agree that the most important thing to their success is to value and support each other, innovation, and high quality work.”

5 Takeaways from Commodity Classic:

1. Attendees travel from all over the U.S.

Commodity Classic attracts visitors from all over the U.S. including those from SIGMA’s own Rochester, NY. One local Western NY attendee was a panelist during our favorite learning session of the week, “Plugging into the Power of Your Regional Cover Crop Council.” Donn Branton, a farmer from Le Roy, NY and board member on the Northeast Cover Crop Council shared his experience with cover crops and their benefits, giving examples of techniques he has used to help promote soil health and increased yield.

2. It’s a great place for one-on-one conversations with partners

Our client, FMC hosted an after the show happy hour for attendees and partners to promote their new product Lucento™ fungicide. The SIGMA team spent this time meeting with clients and finding out how we can more effectively work together in 2019 to provide valuable data and insights for use in marketing and overall decision-making.

3. It’s not just about the technology and equipment

The educational session that seemed to attract the largest group of attendees wasn’t about technology, innovation or equipment, it was about farming as a family business. Consultant and Farmer Jolene Brown gave a humorous and informative presentation on the valuable lessons she has learned from working with farming families and the difficult decisions that come with running a family business.

4. ASA Awards Banquet

FMC was one of the premier sponsors of the American Soybean Association Awards Banquet where soybean growers, volunteers and leaders throughout the country are recognized.

5. Orlando in the winter is amazing

When you’re used to winter in the Northeast, Orlando is a welcomed break at the end of February. When our team wasn’t at the show, they were able enjoy Orlando’s warm weather and some of the best key lime pie around.

Looking Forward – Q and A with Stefan Willimann

SIGMA Account Manager, Teddy Malone, sat down with Stefan Willimann to hear his reflections on 2018 and hopes for 2019.

Let’s talk about 2018. Where did we come from? Where are we going?

2018 was a strategic year, one in which we really started to integrate an important value into our culture — empowerment. Empowerment begets risk and risk begets leadership, and surrounding myself with leaders whom I can serve is rewarding to me personally and makes SIGMA a better company.

Last year we put a “bottom up” structure into action, and as our COO Gregg Sullivan expressed recently, “What comes with empowerment is accountability, and therefore if our team feels empowered they hold themselves responsible.”

How has your role at SIGMA changed in the past year? 

I made a concerted effort in 2018 to move from working IN the business to working ON the business. Practicing my own empowerment has allowed me to start to think of the business in more strategic terms. I’m more focused on the vision of the business and taking this new approach has helped me climb out of the trenches and be less myopic. Right now, I am more focused on the evolution of SIGMA than ever before.

As we look toward 2019, SIGMA is poised for growth. Tell us about “Digital at SIGMA.” How do you feel about SIGMA utilizing its data expertise to inform a digital capability for other companies?

Digital is a part of everything we do, and SIGMA is poised to turn up our resources in this area. Regarding growth, I think that the digital application and what we can expect this year into next is leveraging expertise in certain verticals. We do a lot of business in the membership organization sector, museums and the like. Agriculture and financial services as well.  We are prepared to leverage our knowledge in digital and take it more into vertical practices. I see a move to expertise in verticals, and anticipate that we will have vertical practice leaders rather than account managers as we continue to evolve.

SIGMA’s new Boston office is set in the heart of the city, accessible to the surrounding area

Speaking of the future, let’s talk about SIGMA’s expansion into Boston. How that will influence our business?

Boston is a much larger market than Rochester, ranking #24 in the country based on population. There is a tremendous amount of thought leadership coming from Boston, which is how we started 30 years ago in the database marketing industry, so it is exciting to be in such an innovative and investigative city as we evolve again.

Additionally, from Boston, SIGMA now has easier access to NYC, Philadelphia and other potential clients. We want to meet people face to face and demonstrate that we are committed to being a part of their team and understanding their needs.

Finally, we are going to be able to find more talent in this highly educated market. We’re grateful that Rochester has a pool of talent from RIT and University of Rochester; Boston is simply a bigger city and bigger cities have more talent to draw from and we’re excited about that potential as we grow here too.

Finally, back to SIGMA’s data business, why do you think companies are rapidly moving towards the customized visualization SIGMA provides rather than generic build-outs from other software?

Honestly? Generic dashboards are becoming obsolete. Everything now should be tailored to the specific needs of the client and their business so they can put in the KPI’s and content they want to see. Generic dashboards don’t compute or tell a coherent story.

Custom dashboard reflecting a campaign summary

Our customized dashboards are tailored from a tool, with experienced data scientists to back them up, and they can tell a story that is highly applicable to the client’s business.