Digital Marketing trends have shifted in the last year, as personalization platforms like Google Shopping play a key role for retailers and consumers alike.
COVID-19 changed how we interact with one another, how we work, and how we shop.
While few can say that they are comfortably out from under the grip of the deadly virus that rocked the world in 2020, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
But even with the promise of change on the horizon, many consumers -and retailers- are finding that some of these new habits are just too good to let go of.
Bringing into stark focus the necessity of social media, consumer focused and targeted ad campaigns, as well as comparative pricing and locational data boosted by Google Shopping management services.
6 Digital Marketing Trends in 2021
Topping these new trends that will surely show continued endurance in the coming years is Google Shopping.
While the application isn’t new, the tool has shown a surprising upswing in interest and use within the last year, particularly as demand for online goods soared, and a wider variety of retailers looked to step up to the mammoth task of going online.
For online businesses that are strongly considering a revamped SEO strategy, or setting renewed reliance on their digital marketing agency, a clear google shopping campaign for 2021 won’t go amiss.
Particularly as the platform functions differently than most other online shopping hubs like Amazon and Etsy- instead, supplying consumers with similar products from a multitude of retailers in order to secure the best price.
Further reinforcing the position of a digital marketing agency that knows how to not only improve ranking, but also focus on social media presence, local listings and geolocation data, as well as more intimate digital forms of customer relations.
Online Communications and Events
Like online events and communications.
Is suspected that 2021 will see a continuance of the work from home trend, as well as an ever increasing reliance on digital communication.
This can include many different aspects of marketing, from online meetings to more personalized content and customer care.
How well your digital platforms perform in these spheres will not only strengthen ratings and improve CTR- as consumers have reported that convenience is one of the most motivating factors to buy- but will also help your business improve ROI by reducing administrative costs.
With fewer profits designated towards keeping an office and associated transportation costs, businesses can instead focus this retained revenue on marketing campaigns and better equipment for work from home employees.
AI in Advertising and SEO Marketing Agency
AI is continuing to play a huge part in digital marketing– let alone the entire e-commerce business sector.
Allowing your SEO services agency to better understand consumer habits while being able to more efficiently filter customer requests and create consumer focused content.
Perhaps the most exciting AI innovation to see improvements this year is “Programmatic Advertising” or an automated bidding system that translates into ad buying.
Essentially creating a real-time, targeted ad purchase point, that will target specific customers that are currently browsing the publishing website.
Making new customer acquisition more effective in both overall costs and time.
Personalized Conversational Marketing
Outside of feeling like customers finally have access to convenient price comparison, and enjoying a higher degree of relevancy in the ads they are shown, consumers also want to feel like they are still capable of reaching a human.
This type of personalization and conversational interaction allows consumers to feel more involved in their purchases, and more confident about making them.
Thanks to the shift into a multitude of channels, as opposed to just website traffic, consumers are looking for a more bespoke and individual shopping experience.
Where the retailer is capable of quickly interacting with buyers in a space that is familiar for them.
What was once mitigated by face-to-face encounters in brick and mortar stores, has now been moved to chat interfaces and comment sections.
Engendering brand loyalty and a personalized feel to an incredibly impersonal platform.
Few things have become so important in the new normality of digital marketing as the humble video.
Using fun themes and often a more casual approach, video marketing is taking a bit of a diversion from the ad campaigns used historically by marketing agencies.
Away from the feeling of an overproduced and curated advertisement- consumers seem to be continuing to look for that personalized and friendly approach.
Preferring short videos like Facebook Live updates or Instagram’s Reels to learn about new products and services.
Video marketing also translates well to other types of digital marketing, far beyond social media.
Videos can be transcribed, easily shared, or even turned into a podcast.
Not to mention the format is mobile friendly and easy to consume while performing other tasks– something consumers need.
Even short videos on websites have been shown to increase Google rankings as people seem to be compelled to engage with video more than text or even banner ads.
Thinking whether or not to work with a digital marketing agency?
Growing your business in today’s digitalized world can feel overwhelming at times and understanding how digital works is extremely important to succeed.
Why Has Digital Become So Crucial?
Traditional marketing can no longer reach the high audiences it used to – Digital Marketing can.
The digital world of business is constantly changing and evolving, and digital marketing companies are aware of that.
Consumers are more informed than ever and the businesses who succeed are the ones who understand this different way of doing business today, an effective way.
Digital marketing is brand promotion through technology, with a much more precise target orientation.
It delivers measurable results in real-time and strategies can easily and immediately be tested and adjusted.
So why would a company need a digital marketing agency? Well, a digital expert helps you optimize your resources while delivering the right information to the consumer and design strategies that will help grow your brand.
It’s no longer enough to just create an ad and put it on every TV channel! With digital marketing, you can reach out to a larger audience with a lower investment, compared to traditional marketing strategies with the direct cost of distribution and traditional media.
Around 3.5 billion people are connected to the internet today around the globe. Digital marketing makes your company visible on digital spaces in the right context anywhere in the world. This is why it is so important for your business to take digital marketing seriously and build an optimized presence to make the most out of opportunities.
Digital experts help you define the best way to advertise your brand and optimize your campaigns while making digital media works in your favor.
Given that people spend around 20 hours a week on social media, it is easy to understand that almost every consumer does quick research before buying any service or product.
That is why your brand should be visible on digital platforms, in order to be found by your customers and potential clients.
A digital marketing agency will analyze your business, niche market, discuss your needs, clarify your business and digital goals and implement tools that will help you meet them: SEO, PPC, content planning, link building, website optimization, manage social media, etc.
Find an agency that resonates with your work, brand image as well as values and be amazed by how a great digital marketing plan can boost your business.
What Does a Digital Marketing Agency Do?
A digital marketing agency is highly focused on results in the digital world and is a specialist in digital communication. They can easily track any marketing action and measure it, working on the improvement of your ROI.
It is a team of strategists, designers, copywriters, creatives, developers, consultants, managers that work together to deliver the best results possible with the least amount of money spent – compared to traditional marketing, where you’d spend a lot more for a much lower return.
When working with a digital marketing agency, they will help you define your goals and deadlines and improve your productivity and strategies to optimize time, tools, and investment.
It focuses on defining who your exact buyer is, a much more precise one, and work towards that specific target. Once you know who that target is, it becomes easy to determine what your message should be and how you can reach it.
Digital marketing is all about the online world, thus working with an agency means your online presence will be developed and boosted in many ways.
That’s where many team members come together, to better define a clear and concise strategy to build your online presence: through social media, videos, landing pages, podcasts, and other online platforms, with adequate content creation.
The goal is to provide the best possible search rankings, delivering a marketing ROI that you couldn’t get otherwise. Working with a digital marketing team means that you will get more customers with higher lead conversion, which means a growth of visibility and sales.
What we do at UniK
When choosing a digital marketing agency, you need to consider the costs, expertise, experience, creativity, and focus the agency has.
At UniK SEO, we are a digital marketing agency that specializes in increasing organic and paid traffic from the main search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo).
UniK SEO is based in Lisbon, Portugal, and we work with many brands worldwide. We currently provide our services in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Our team has a strong background in corporate and freelance digital marketing and we are proud to show great experience as well as track records in performance, affiliate and content marketing, SEO, PPC for digital services, e-commerce, and brands.
We also build strong relationships with our media partners, which is a great tool to have when developing a link building strategy.
We are excited to show you in which ways you can improve your website! Check our blog for future tips and tricks on digital marketing and SEO.
Our SEO Agency is looking for an experienced digital project manager to join our story. Unik SEO is one of the leading SEO agencies in Portugal and a place where you can learn and grow your digital career. All our work is based in the best international SEO standards and we’re one of the few agencies in Portugal doing Online PR optimised for SEO. About 70% of our clients are international, mostly from the UK, USA, Canada and Northern Europe.
Onboarding SEO clients from sales and organising resources required to set up their campaigns;
Overseeing the project’s financial budget and billing hours;
Ensure that projects are on-budget, on-time and on-quality;
Maintain each project workflow by assigning tasks to SEO executives and freelancers;
Take some time to assess how the teams are working and optimize and improve practices and processes;
Acting as the lead contact for clients during projects both in Portuguese and English;
Zoom or Skype with clients to take detailed ordering briefs and clarify specific; requirements of each project;
Support and orient Interns;
Make monthly reports to clients and company management;
Keeping track of latest digital campaign trends and analysing digital behaviour;
Key skills – Elimination factors:
Attention to detail and ability to proofread ruthlessly to spot typos and errors
Excellent client-facing communication skills
Minimum professional experience of 2 years in the role of account/project manager in a digital agency
Great level of English (writing and speaking)
Be native to the digital world
Soft Skills – Non-eliminatory
Multi-tasker with ability to juggle many projects;
Experience with management software tools (Monday, Buzzstream, or other)
Evidence of working with project management methodologies;
Being proactive and able to solve business problems with a technical mindset
Result oriented and decision-making skills;
Experience in SEO will be valued.
Have worked abroad for more than 6 months is a plus
Knowledge of Google Analytics, Google TagManager, SEO and Google Ads
Open, family atmosphere and fun environment;
State-of-the-art offices with a fun and engaging culture;
Work from home some days per month;
Option to take extra non paid holidays;
36 days off (22 days holiday + 13 National holidays + additional 2 days over Xmas/New Year + 1 day Birthday);
Unlimited Coffee and tea, free Matraquilhos and Ping-Pong;
Some individuals spend up to 40 hours a week surfing the net or scrolling down their social media feeds, which means that the numbers are growing as we spend twice as much time online than we did 10 years ago.
This means that even though marketing isn’t exclusively happening online, over 90% of businesses in the USA market their brands on social media, and you should too. A very large portion of your marketing strategy should be oriented towards attracting all those internet users who are your potential customers and keeping up with your competitors.
But where to start?
When it comes to online marketing, trends change quickly, so we compiled a shortlist of the three most important aspects you should take into consideration when you’re creating an effective digital marketing strategy.
1.Build a Buyer Persona
It doesn’t matter if your marketing strategy takes place offline or online, you have to know who your target audience is and create a buyer persona. Knowing who you’re going to market your services or products to is the first step towards building a successful marketing strategy.
Buyer personas are your ideal customers who you can create by researching and interviewing your target audience. It’s important to note that this information should be based only on real data since making assumptions can create a marketing strategy based on false data and provide unreliable results.
The research that is going to indicate who your target audience is should include several types of customers and prospects alongside their location, age, income, job title and other personal information like their interests, likes, dislikes, and so on.
Once you have a clearly defined buyer persona, you need to align your business goals and priorities accordingly.
2.What Are Your Goals and Digital Marketing Needs?
After you create your buyer persona, you should focus your attention on finding the right tools that’ll help you identify your goals and track your path to success. This is the only way in which you’ll be able to measure your progress later on and evaluate whether you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
Make sure that your goals are aligned with your budget, your needs, and your assets.
For instance, the choice of a web hosting provider has a lot to do with the ability to scale your business and create your online business strategy. Make sure that the bandwidth and disk space your host offers you will give you the opportunity to capitalize on all the traffic you’ll be getting with a solid digital marketing strategy in place.
3.Creating a Link Building Strategy
Creating a good link building strategy is essential for building authority in your niche – this is because the authority will improve your search engine rankings.
This means that if you don’t invest in an effective link building strategy, all your SEO efforts could be in vain. Getting quality backlinks should be one of the goals in your online marketing campaign, but here’s what you should have in mind:
● It should be based on quality instead of quantity.
● There isn’t one right way to get backlinks, you should incorporate as many tactics as you can.
● If you can’t get backlinks any other way, you can pay for links. However, this will not only cost you a lot, but you can be harshly penalized by Google. This is due to the fact that buying links is strictly forbidden by all search engines.
● Make sure you utilize some common hacks such as posting answers on Q&A sites like Quora. This will eventually get some users to follow your link and get to your website.
● When you go for an email outreach technique to get backlinks from influencers or well-known bloggers, make sure your email stands out from the rest because if it gets lost in the crowd, it’ll never be read and recognized. See that you offer them something in return, so don’t forget to mention what they’re getting out of the collaboration somewhere in the email.
● If you don’t want to depend on anyone for backlinks, you can build your own PBN Hosting (Private Blog Network). This is an easy way to get as many backlinks as you’d like to your own money site via other websites within your network, which would actually be yours. Make sure you choose a good web hosting provider that can cover up your Private Blog Network from the search engines – since this is a grey hat SEO technique that’s the only way to stay completely safe.
It all comes down to encouraging your users to come back to your site and obtaining new organic traffic, which is why you should invest in every part of your digital marketing strategy to get the best results.
Besides creating a buyer persona, defining your goals and creating a good link building strategy, there are other ways to succeed in the online world, like being active on social media and exposing your online business by collaborating with influencers and bloggers.
We hope that your online marketing plan will be a success and you’ll get as many conversions as possible!
The novel coronavirus has affected more than just our personal health and safety, and businesses must adjust in order to survive.
The novel coronavirus has drastically shifted the functional norms of many businesses, particularly those of digital agencies. As economic systems, consumer needs, and client requirements change, so must the agency’s operational foundation. While this can serve to create a sense of instability and panic, there are actionable items and practical steps to be taken to help ensure the continuity of your business.
These applications are focused not only on what this crisis means for an agency and their base operations at present, but also how one could reasonably react to the months of necessary recovery following the viral conclusion.
Analyze and Reduce Spending
In order to reduce spending in such a way as to not cut into revenue, you must first find where your money is being spent and what manner of returns you are to expect.
Analyze all costs, down to the last cent. (You should already have this in order ,but if you don’t, now is the perfect time to dig deeper.) Take these costs and separate them into two main categories:
Then, divide each of these costs into specific sub categories to the best of your abilities. Allowing an itemization of where each amount goes, making it simple to weigh against potential profit later.
Create different revenue scenarios with the probability of change in client status. This means clients leaving, set deals becoming cancelled or paused, etc. Follow this speculation with finding the minimum revenue necessary that your agency requires to continue forward with each individual operation.
For each scenario cut on expenses in order to achieve break-even status. Make use of any applicable governmental support services should they be available to you or include other measures such as reducing staff working hours by 25%, etc.
Consider what each client costs. Check billed hours your team actually spent on each client, and weigh this against the hours that were contracted. Check the money that was spent on content creation if you are outsourcing it, and any publication costs associated with that content. (guest posts, infographics, Online PR, etc)
Create this cost analysis for each client on a monthly basis.
Create a document with this information, clearly outlining how much profit your agency is set to make from each individual client. This will become clear once client costs and what each client pays you are compared.
Focus on Profitable Niches/Countries
You may find that certain niches or countries are more profitable than others. Understand why this is happening. Most times is related with variable costs. If you are an SEO agency, a big chunk of your variable costs goes to content creation and publication. As an example, in our agency we have big clients in the cryptocurrency market demanding a lot of content publication in the form of articles, infographics etc. Because of this, we already have a big database of sites where we publish regularly, with well established contacts and protocols with ourr agency. This saves us all those outreach hours spent by our team looking for sites and negotiation prices, every time a new client from the crypto market comes onboard.
New clients in this niche, become much cheaper than clients from a new niche.
Same goes for countries. In Portugal, we have a big database of places to publish high quality content including even some amazing sites accepting free publications. Because of this, new clients have a very low variable cost during the first months in terms of content publishing.
Consider Recession Proof/Proactive Industry
Try to find niches that will not be affected, or not nearly as severely affected, by the coronavirus crisis Focus on these as well. Focus on these types of niches in conjunction with established clients, as the recovery period may cause a new type of upheaval in market trends.
Invest only where your money is
With the previous in mind, focus on getting leads for these niches/countries so you maximise the ROI of each client. This way your cost per conversion will be the same, but once converted, that client will be a lot more profitable.
So in resume, focusing your lead generation that is directly related to pre-existing and well established clients can serve to maximize profits. This is largely because these niches:
Are already associated with established databases of contacts or publishers
Are able to supply more reliable speculation on price
Reduce team and time billing hours by relying on pre-established relationships
Will not require further expenditure obtaining new clients within a known niche
Target Your Promotion
Once you have a clear idea of which niches, countries, and clients are set to give your agency the most reliable revenue streams at the lowest cost, you now need to consider agency promotion. As market trends and business vitality change, paid promotion costs have also been upended.
GoogleAds, Instagram, Facebook, and a number of historically useful promotional outlets are showing a much lower cost per click, due to lack of investment. Take advantage of this market dip and invest in the promotion of your agency at a lower cost than usual.
Utilize Cold Calling
Use these previously identified niches to create an email marketing campaign. Find all the companies relevant to those niches and countries. Using Google search results and LinkedIn, find the emails and top representatives of the first 100 relevant companies you come across. Use either an email campaign or a paid LinkedIn account to contact these representatives directly, explaining why your agency is directly applicable to their current needs. Use case studies and strong visual messages to solidify and strengthen your point. Rely heavily on historical data and the established effectiveness of your agency as it pertains to their industry directly.
Find New Revenue Streams
While massive focus is being put on cutting costs and utilizing reduced resources, such a stark change in daily business function will see you with downtime. Use any newly freed time your team had to brainstorm and execute new strategies that will help to strengthen your business in the future. Adapting your existing resources to focus on your own agency internally, as opposed to constantly focusing on clients only. Use the new extra time for you.
Consider using this time to create a webinar on areas of interest or expertise. Focus on SEO for video or voice services, create a video series of your agency by filming your meeting sessions (people like to see other agencies at work). Think outside the box for ways in which to best promote your services and solidify your agency as an industry expert, reinforcing your abilities and image as a leader for when markets return to normal.
When creating and marketing your business you need to know the answer to one critical question: Who are your customers and how can you help them
If you create a product or a service but you don’t know who’s the person you are creating it for, chances are you won’t have a clear target.
Result? You won’t be able to market your product correctly and it won’t sell. Knowing first hand to whom you are selling, what their needs and characteristics are, is key to reach the right target.
A Buyer Persona(BP) is a semi-fictional character you create that represents your ideal customer – the person you want to sell to. Your BP has a certain problem and a need that has to be met, and you’re the one offering the solution.
When working in Digital Marketing, your target spectrum is much narrower than in traditional marketing, and focusing on a BP helps you make it less abstract and more real.
Your communication becomes more personal and humanized, and your marketing gets stronger and more cost-effective. Giving your customer a name and an I.D. helps you meet their needs better and faster.
Create Your Buyer Persona
Grab a paper or open a new Word document and describe who your Buyer Persona is.
Despite giving him/her a name, an age, a location, an occupation, and an annual income– you can even go deeper and describe their relationship status and kids – figure out their:
Goals: What does your persona want to accomplish?
Problems: Where does your persona need help? What are their greatest handicaps?
Obstacles: What’s the thing that’s stopping your persona from going further and achieving their goals?
Questions: What would your persona ask if they wanted to take the next step?
Keywords and phrases: Research for keywords and phrases your persona would search for when looking for help. What would catch their attention when searching for information?
Where they look for help: It could be social media, traditional media, or other websites. Find out where your persona searches for information, which channels they opt for most.
A Buyer Persona is a description of your ideal customer.
After brainstorming all the topics bellow, you can create your Buyer Persona I.D, with their most important features. It should look something like this:
Tricks to Developing a Buyer Persona
It’s not always easy to come up with your ideal customer profile – you probably won’t get it right at first. But there are a few tricks you can rely on to make the process more intuitive:
Look at your own characteristics and needs. Chances have you created a product that helps serve you, so designing a BP similar to yourself can help you better define it.
Think of WHY you created business. What was the core frustration that led to the idea, to fix a certain problem? Understand who the person with that problem is and describe them.
Think of someone you know who’d make the perfect buyer for your product or service.
Gather market information from other websites: Facebook Groups, Quora.com, Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Youtube Analytics, etc. Searching for demographic data and potential buyer’s profiles will help you understand who your BP is.
Hubspot created a step by step guide that helps you build your personalized buyer persona easily. It’s called MakeMyPersona.
How Your Buyer Persona Can Help
They help you build a storyline: a customer goes through different points of decision making. Having a persona in mind helps you determine what that person will think and need at a specific point, enabling you to build a storyline across the buying process.
They help you create adequate content: When you know who you’re creating for and what that person needs, it becomes easy to determine what kind of content is important for you to create. You know what topics are a priority to your persona.
They serve as a constant reference: Your business doesn’t end when you have your final product – it’s a constant and ongoing development.
A BP will serve as a tool to help you stay in line when it comes to new marketing developments for the segment your persona represents. It is a foundation for your strategy and a constant reminder of your customer’s motivation to buy.
Test your Buyer Persona with feedback and make arrangements as your audience grows and you get to know your customers better!
Once again, The European Summit (TES) conference occurred in Prague earlier this month. From the 13th to the 16th of September, the TES gathered more than 2000 affiliates, media buyers, advertisers and publishers in the Vienna House Diplomat Conference Hotel for a unique networking experience. On Saturday the 15th, the second day of TES, UniK SEO’s Business Director, Grégoire Lacan, took part in the event with a seminar on “How to Run an Easy SEO Audit”.
In this article, you will find a summary version of this presentation. We will explain the importance and give you some lights on how to conduct an SEO Audit in 4 important categories: Technical, Keywords, Content and Links. At the end of the article, you may download for free the complete PDF used for Grégoire’s presentation.
What Exactly is an SEO Audit and Why is it Important?
SEO Audits are extremely important because they let you know what is the state of your website as search engines see it. Having in account the rules and factors that search engines use in order to classify your website in the organic search rankings, an audit lets you know what are the problems that need fixing and the optimization opportunities available.
Thus, an Easy SEO Audit is the first step in the optimization of any website. Through it, you get to know how your website is doing in terms of technical infrastructure, on-page and off-page elements. SEO Audits can also evaluate parameters such as indexability, competitiveness, website conversion & architecture, internal & external linking, link building and several others.
There are useful free tools online that provide help in auditing your website – we suggest some in this article. However, the most common approach for business owners is to hire the services of an SEO Agency. With teams of specialized professionals, these companies have the best audit tools, techniques and knowledge at their disposal.
1. Technical Audit
Technical SEO is the starting point of any successful SEO strategy. To maximize your website’s potential, it is crucial that it respects the technical guidelines and recommendations of the search engines. Only by following the rules can your pages be referenced correctly and achieve positive results for your business.
Here are some key factors you must pay attention to in what concerns the technical aspects of a given website:
Website Indexability: How is Google indexing your website?
Mobile Friendliness: Does your website work properly on mobile devices?
SSL Certificate (HTTPS): Does your website pass the SSL Security Test?
Loading Speed: Does your website load fast enough? Modern users don’t wait.
URL Length: Is your URL too long to rank positively?
HREFLANG Tags: Does your website have them? They help Search Engines figuring out the different languages of a website.
There are a few free SEO Audit Tools that may come in handy when conducting a Technical Audit: Screaming Frog and SEOptimer are two great examples. You can find more tools and tips in the complete PDF for Grégoire’s presentation at the end of this article.
2. Keywords Audit
The SEO keywords are responsible for driving people to your website through search engines’ results pages. Here are some processes related to your website’s keywords that you must pay attention to:
Keywords Research: Research is the starting point of any keyword strategy. Make sure to do detailed research to find what are the exact words users type when they are looking for your service. Find more tips on Keyword Research in the PDF at the end of the article.
Do your On-Page: Make sure to pay close attention and organize each page and its respective elements based on keywords. Remember that your pages should not be competing with each other for the same keywords.
Keywords Optimization: For best results, your keywords must be evident to search engines. They should appear in your meta-data, alt text of images and videos, titles, URLs and more.
3. Content Audit
Content is undoubtedly one of the most important ranking factors for websites. Thus, when conducting an SEO Audit, you must evaluate the quality of your content. Do consider the following factors:
Website Architecture: Is your website organized and easy to navigate?
Duplicated Content: Do you have duplicated pages and content that affects your website negatively?
Paginated Content: Are your pages self canonized?
Meta Data: Is your metadata unique, keyword rich and the right size?
Contextual and Copywriting: Is your content original, unique and SEO optimized?
Structured Data: Is your content suitable and optimized to appear on structured data?
4. Links Audit
Internal Links, External Links and Backlinks are key to drive qualified traffic to your website. As such, it is crucial to pay attention to them when conducting an SEO Audit. Here are some topics to have in mind:
Internal Linking: Is your website rich in internal links?
Link Errors: Is your website free of URL errors and broken links?
Backlinks: Do you have quality backlinks to your website?
Now that you’re aware of what you should pay attention to in an SEO Audit, you can find extra tips to solve your website’s problems in the complete free PDF below.
Download your Free PDF
As promised, here you can download the PDF used for Grégoire’s TES conference on How to Run an Easy SEO Audit.
Recent changes to European personal data protection regulations have quite a lot of people worried. On May 25th of 2018… you will have to get everything organized or you might be risking big!
We all want to protect personal data responsibly, but we also want to focus on not being fined.
These days, everyone knows and understands the importance of protecting citizens from a wide variety of emerging threats. Not to mention, the fact that all of us individually and collectively need to contribute to the same cause.
For the most part, those who are interested in (or worried about) data protection focus more on the financial side of things than the actual protection of data as a whole. From a business perspective, any kind of data breach has the potential to result in huge fines and penalties.
Which is precisely why it is critically important for everyone to acknowledge the recent adjustments made to data protection regulations, in order to ensure their total compliance. We are entering an era where data breach immunity isn’t a realistic concept, but it’s still vital to ensure that all necessary preventative measures are put in place.
The New Digital Age
Over recent years, society as a whole has had no real option other than to adapt to both the rapid evolution and new forms of communication and relationships. Companies are struggling to keep up with the disrupters of the new era and to stay on top. There are new digital trends and new platforms emerging every single day. Consequently, the challenges faced by the vast majority of businesses in this new era are felt in several areas.
The rules of the game have changed, but due to the rapidity of this ongoing evolution, the framework required to cope has not yet adapted. Companies stick with their traditional and often rigid strategies, which are proving to be insufficient when faced with modern threats.
“Adaptability” is the new buzzword the world cannot afford to ignore – those who do risk falling behind, or perhaps even disappearing entirely.
The need to change data protection rules …
It’s because of such drastic advancement in the digital landscape of the 21st century that the European Union made the decision to implement sweeping changes. As the world becomes more dependent on digital data, it really only makes good sense to ensure that it is adequately protected.
Nevertheless, the fact that things are continuing to change on a daily basis makes the whole thing even more complicated. After all, how can you impose regulation and provide adequate protection, when you essentially have no idea what’s coming next?
Take piracy as an example. There was a time when movies were copied and sold without authorization, downloads were made every day and there was no provision in the law on how to act in these cases. In turn, pirates got away with their activities, no questions asked.
How did regulators address the problem?
First of all, it should be explained that piracy of audiovisual content is an economic crime, which consists of the illegal use of a work protected by copyright and related rights and, in the case of illegitimate reproduction of software, by the Criminality Law Computing.
In the eyes of the law, piracy is considered a crime of usurpation.
As it became clear that pirates were profiting at the growing expense of those who owned the copyright of the material in question, new regulations needed to be drafted. Which in turn led to the outright banning of piracy, along with aggressive efforts to bring those taking part in such activities to justice.
Still, every time the authorities take aim at the piracy community, new techniques emerge to make those involved more difficult or even impossible to catch. What’s more, technological advancements continue to make the policing of piracy all the more difficult, while at the same time making piracy as a whole so much easier for anyone to take part in.
Hence, the challenges associated with keeping up in the digital age.
Protection of Personal Data
One of the biggest advancements in technology over recent years has been the exponential development in the capacity for storage of and access to personal data. Suffice to say, if anyone could actually see just how much data is stored on them on a global basis, they would probably find it quite terrifying.
With such enormous volumes of personal and privileged data being stored on almost every human being worldwide, the necessity to protect this data quickly became apparent. Existing data protection laws simply did not come close to covering the needs of the 21st-century citizen living in the digital age.
As such, rules and regulations are now in place to govern those who collect and work with personal data. But it is nonetheless inevitable that things will have to take several significant steps forward, in order to keep up with the changing face of Data Storage and use.
As of now, businesses are required to adapt to the new legal framework, while citizens are being advised to familiarize themselves with their rights.
What is Personal Data Protection?
There are no two ways about it – attempting to understand the law can be boring and often very complicated. Fortunately, the regulations under review provide us with a few concrete terms and definitions, which make the whole thing much easier to understand and abide by.
Information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (“data subject”); An identifiable person is considered to be identifiable, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier, such as a name, an identification number, location data, identifiers by electronic means or to one or more specific elements of the identifier. The physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person;
Personal Data Treatment
An operation or a set of operations carried out on personal data or on personal data sets by automated or non-automated means such as collection, registration, organization, structuring, conservation, adaptation or alteration, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or any other form of disclosure, comparison or interconnection, limitation, erasure or destruction.
Limitation of Data Treatment
The insertion of a mark in the personal data preserved with the aim of limiting its treatment in the future;
Customers’ Profile Definition
Any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of such personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects of a natural person, in particular, to analyze or predict aspects related to professional performance, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behaviour, location or travel;
The processing of personal data in such a way that it can no longer be allocated to a specific data subject without the use of supplementary information, provided that such supplementary information is kept separately and subject to technical and organizational measures to ensure that personal data cannot be allocated to an identified or identifiable natural person;
“Consent” of the Data Subject
A free, specific, informed and the explicit manifestation of will by which the data subject accepts, by means of a declaration or an unequivocal positive act, that the personal data concerning him/her are processed;
Violation of Personal Data
A breach of security that causes, accidentally or unlawfully, the unauthorized destruction, loss, alteration, disclosure or access to personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise treated;
Personal data relating to the inherited or acquired genetic characteristics of a natural person which gives unique information on the physiology or health of that natural person and which results in particular from an analysis of a biological sample from the natural person concerned;
Personal data resulting from a specific technical treatment relating to the physical, physiological or behavioural characteristics of a natural person enabling or confirming the unique identification of that natural person, in particular, facial or dactyloscopy data;
Personal data relating to the physical or mental health of a natural person, including the provision of health services, which disclose information about his or her health;
The consequences of the old-fashioned approach
Most organizations abide by their own unique data protection policies, which may have remained unchanged for years or even decades. Whatever they do, they do it like this because they have always done it like this.
But the new amendments to data protection regulations require significant changes to procedures, in order to avoid potentially drastic consequences.
Failure to comply with the new data protection rules could result in huge fines of up to €20,000,000.
Thus, given the length of time that an institution likely needs to adapt to the new rules, the legislator has set a period of just a year for all firms to get on-board with the regulation.
By May 25, all institutions will have to adapt to the changes, without exception.
Which firms/institutions have to adapt?
The new amendments to the regulations apply to all entities dealing with personal data – those carrying out any kinds of transactions involving personal data. These entities may be those that determine the purposes and means of processing personal data, but also those that perform these operations on a subcontracting basis.
Geographically, the regulation applies throughout the territory of the European Union. However, Article 3 (1) provides for an exception: “This Regulation shall apply to the processing of personal data carried out in the context of the activities of an establishment of a controller or a subcontractor located within the territory of the Union, within or outside the Union.”
Roughly translated, failure to process personal data in the territory covered by the regulation does not imply that it is not applied, provided that the institution is located within it.
How to Avoid a Colossal Fine
Accept the need to protect personal data more proactively.
Follow the new data protection rules and everything will be fine.
Look at the checklist we have prepared and start right now!
Even if institutions comply with the new standards with due diligence, an unintentional breach of personal data cannot be ruled out. As previously stated, outright immunity is not a realistic possibility.
It Happened to Me…Now What?
So when things go wrong, how should an institution proceed in such cases?
All violations of personal data must be fully documented, including the facts related to them, their effects and the solution adopted.
Check out a few examples of the most frequently asked questions on the subject:
What are the “new” data protection rights?
With the changes to data protection regulations, we see the emergence of new rights that citizens can now “claim” at their discretion.
The right to be Forgotten
This new regulation covers the right to erase data (“right to be forgotten”), meaning that the subject has the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of his or her personal data without undue delay.
The Right to Data Portability
The right to data portability allows individuals to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services. The subject may freely transfer, copy and move their personal information between IT systems in a secure, safe and convenient manner.
Right of Rectification
The data holder has the right to obtain from the controller the rectification (correction) of inaccurate personal data concerning him or her. In respect to the purpose of the data processing, the data subject is entitled to have their incomplete personal data completed, including by means of an additional declaration if necessary.
It is hard not to feel a certain sense of dread when you read the provisions of Article 83 of the Regulation, which concern the application of fines.
Let’s take a look at a few key specifics:
Infringement of the obligations of the controller and the subcontractor and breach of the obligations of the supervisory body shall be subject to administrative fines of up to EUR 10,000,000 or, in the case of an undertaking, up to 2% of its corresponding annual worldwide turnover to the previous financial year, whichever is the higher:
However, the highest fines are reserved for those who violate the following provisions:
The basic principles of treatment, including the conditions of consent;
The rights of data subjects;
The transfer of personal data to a recipient in a third country or an international organization;
Obligations under the law of the Member State adopted under Chapter IX;
Failure to comply with a temporary or definitive restraining order concerning the processing or suspension of data flows issued by the supervisory authority or failure to provide access;
In such cases, infringement of the provisions shall be subject to administrative fines of up to EUR 20,000,000 or, in the case of an undertaking, up to 4% of its annual worldwide turnover for the preceding financial year, whichever is the higher:
In summary: how can your company/agency comply with these necessary changes to personal data protection regulation, in order to avoid these fines?
Take a few minutes to study the subject in the necessary detail.
Introduce/adapt your employees and the technologies of your institution to the new regulations.
Be aware of any violations and report them in a timely manner.
Appoint a dedicated Data Protection Officer to review your personal data protection processes and security.
We hope that this article about the new European regulations on personal data protection coming on in May 2018 will help you to get your organization ready and to avoid to get a fine!
If you need more information or would like to share your opinion with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch!