It’s been suggested that reliance on oil by many of the world’s largest economies is declining, and that it will soon be data that instead drives innovation and the creation of new companies and jobs.

While I – and, indeed, many economists – would agree with this assessment, many startups are unaware of the fact that their data-handling procedures must be compliant. Many also overlook the myriad of ways it plays a vital role in their day-to-day activities and how it can be used to optimize their marketing efforts.

3 Most Common Mistakes Startups Make with Data Governance

With this in mind, I thought I’d let you know what are, in my experience, the three most common mistakes startup owners make with regards to their data.

1. Compliance – they’re unaware of relevant regulation

Following the recent scandal concerning Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, anxieties revolving around the way in which organizations use peoples’ personal data have grown considerably.

Furthermore, the European Union made fundamental changes to data protection laws earlier this year – something which not only affects companies that operate in the European Union, but anyone that uses personal data generated there, too.

Fortunately, with the majority of new businesses starting out small, adhering to the caveats of the legislation (known as General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR) is relatively straightforward. Provided you make reasonable efforts to ensure your data is secure and have a transparent privacy policy, you’re likely to be compliant.

In spite of this, there are still startups that are unaware of both their need to be compliant and the fact that the maximum fine for failing to do so currently stands at €20 million.

2. Analytics – they don’t analyze their online marketing metrics

Analyzing the success of marketing campaigns used to be a laborious task. In fact, for new businesses it was nigh-on impossible with the only realistic means of garnering peoples’ opinions on a company being a focus group – something that’s unlikely to be beneficial when you’ve not yet had the time to build your brand.

With digital marketing now an integral part of most startups’ plans to enhance their visibility, determining what does and doesn’t work is a significantly easier task.

If, for example, you’re running paid search campaigns with Google, you can analyze a variety of key metrics such as click-through-rate (the rate at which searchers that see your advert opt to visit your website), conversion rates (the number of clicks you need to generate before a user makes a purchase, provides their contact details etc.) and the amount you pay for each meaningful action a user makes on your website.

Various analytical tools can, when plugged-in to your website, provide invaluable insights into its performance. You may find that visitors are far more likely to convert when using a desktop, for example, suggesting that you may need to review your site’s layout on mobile devices.

Perhaps users are more likely to leave your site while they’re on a certain page and you should therefore review the content on it. The number of insights that can be gleaned are remarkable and, when you combine your findings here with the aforementioned advertising metrics, you can optimize your efforts and substantially improve your ROI.

3. Protection – they don’t back up their data

This is one that’s particularly close to my heart as I’ve learned that, due to their robustness and reliability, people tend to take their storage media for granted and don’t even consider the possibility of failure and data loss. Like much modern technology that can be described as ‘everyday’ such as cars, washing machines etc., storage media is extremely dependable. Akin to such technology, though, when it stops functioning, the results are highly disruptive and, even in the event that a repair is possible, expensive to correct.

To put it simply, there are no longer any companies that don’t use digital data in some way and most use it on a daily basis. For this reason, data loss can – and probably will – prevent your employees from fulfilling their roles, you from managing your company, and can even stop your business trading for a period of time.

These risks alone are not the only reason that it continuously astounds me that businesses fail to put a backup plan in place. Thanks to automation and cloud storage, creating an effective backup plan is straightforward and maintaining it requires little to no input – there really are no excuses for not protecting your business from the negative consequences of data loss.

Jay Williams works for Fields Data Recovery, one of the UK’s largest data recovery providers. He lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter and enjoys listening to music and gaming in his spare time.

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Staff Writer