Staying on Top of Your Data Down Under: Lessons from GDPR for Australian Marketers

Australia is currently reviewing its data privacy laws. As with Europe in 2018, there is recognition that laws originally drafted in a semi-pre-digital age need refreshing to be relevant in our current world of Facebook, WhatsApp, re-targeting and artificial intelligence. Proposed recommendations1 include:

  • Broader definition of personal information, including technical and location data
  • Stronger consent requirements weighted in favor of the consumer
  • Measures to require personal information to be erased on request
  • Direct right of action for individuals for serious invasions of privacy

There are some distinct similarities with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). For example, the proposals require that “consents are given freely and that they are specific, unambiguous, and informed.”

Understandably, Australian marketers are a little nervous about the implications for their customer databases. However, they should take heart from Europe, where 18 months post-GDPR many marketing programs are showing big performance uplifts. This is a direct outcome of improved data quality, a better setting of expectations, and broader choice—generating increased trust, and delivering more revenue.

Here’s a selection of examples:

  • Marketo produced a report shortly after GDPR became effective, where marketers were classified as “legal first” or “marketing first” based on the approach they had taken to achieve compliance. The latter had embraced GDPR to build stronger, more effective relationships with their customers, and are 72 percent more likely to exceed their business objectives as a result.
  • A new report from Capgemini shows businesses who reported as fully compliant are performing better across a range of metrics compared with those not fully compliant. Quality of marketing leads, consumer ratings, customer trust and satisfaction, and revenue all showed uplifts of between 13 percent and 18 percent, while 92% percent of executives from compliant firms believe they have gained a competitive advantage.
  • Recent research from the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) shows the majority of email marketers have seen increased open rates (74 percent) and click-through rates (75 percent) over the past 12 months, while many have reported a reduction in opt-out rates (41 percent) and spam complaints (55 percent) over the same period. As a result, they have seen a marked increase in returns on every £1 spent on email, from £32.28 in 2017 to £42.24

While much of the marketing world’s GDPR focus was on legal bases (primarily consent versus legitimate interest), at least three of the key principles (i.e. the ones that can result in €20M fines!) are all about data quality:

  1. Accuracy—data held should not be incorrect or misleading and should be corrected/erased if it is
  2. Minimization—data held should be adequate, relevant, and limited to the stated purpose
  3. Storage Limitation—the data should not be held for longer than strictly needed.3

These principles all feel like they should be data best practices, followed as a matter of course—not because there is a legal obligation to do so. Unfortunately, the reality is very different. Validity EVP Wayne Parslow blogged “the average business estimates that 22 percent of its contact data is inaccurate. Almost a quarter! The estimate is even higher among marketing professionals like you, who believe 30 percent of their customer records are erroneous. Alarm bells!”

In the UK, Royal Mail Data Services (RDMS) calculated the cost of poor data at 5.9 percent of a typical company’s annual revenue. In Australia there are just under 2M small businesses, earning average revenue of $368K per year at an average profit margin of 11.7 percent4. If the RDMS figures hold true down under, then each small business is losing around $20K each year as a result of bad data – almost half of their total profits! For medium/large businesses (annual turnover $2M+) these figures will be much larger . . .

European data controllers have been obliged to get their data quality houses in order, and now they are reaping the benefits. Their Australian counterparts don’t need to wait–there is a strong positive business case for starting right now! And if you’re not quite sure where to start, the great news is Validity has a powerful set of CRM software solutions like DemandToolsPeopleImport, and DupeBlocker to help CRM admins and users keep customer data clean, standardized, and free of duplicates.

Want to start boosting those missing profit margins today? Contact us now to find out how!


  1. Office of the Australian Information Commissioner: OAIC welcomes privacy law update to protect Australians’ personal information (
  2. ZDNet: Australian privacy law amendments to cover data collection and use by digital platforms –
  3. Information Commissioners Office¨ The Principles –
  4. Australian Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman: Small Business Counts (Small Business in the Australian Economy) – (
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