How we use your personal data
Experian provides data services which support organisations in their marketing activities. Many of these services, to varying degrees rely on the use of personal data.
What are prospect services?
We provide contact data to organisations for marketing purposes, so they can find potential new customers or ‘prospects’.
We support our clients’ marketing activities across several channels including post, email and digital marketing. Experian does not provide landline or mobile numbers to organisations to be used for telemarketing or SMS marketing in the context of prospecting for new customers, as we recognise the intrusiveness of telephone and mobile channels when used for this marketing activity.
How does it work?
- Postal marketing — We provide our clients with names and addresses that have been collected in accordance with relevant laws to support postal direct mail communication.
- Email marketing — We do not provide lists of emails directly to our clients. We only obtain email addresses so we can enrich this data with additional insight to find groups of individuals who might be interested in specific products or services from brands or organisations. Marketing emails are sent to you directly by the organisation to which you gave your consent.
- Digital marketing — We work with organisations to inform relevant advertising through websites, apps, social media and video content. We don’t serve any ads to you ourselves — the publisher, for example a website or social media app, will do this based on the consent choices you have given to them. Our role is to help create better, more relevant advertising for you by helping our clients to identify consumers online and by creating groups who are likely to be interested in the particular product or service offered through the digital advertising.
Whilst we believe that enabling brands and organisations to communicate with you in a relevant way creates benefits for you and society (see Benefits of Data Sharing), if you would like to opt-out of Experian passing on your data to our clients for direct marketing by selected communication channels and/or market sectors, or just wish to opt-out of Experian processing your data for direct marketing purposes altogether, just go to our Your Data Rights page where you can do this online.
To see if your personal data is present on our prospect marketing database, click the button below.
What is segmentation and profiling?
Segmentation is the process of dividing a large set of people, households or areas into smaller groups, or ‘segments’, that are likely to have similar characteristics. The aim is to maximise the difference between these groups so that segments can be a useful way of describing types of people.
Nearly every organisation in the UK uses segmentation techniques in some form to help them communicate with their customers and prospects more effectively. Increasingly, we use data to help our clients define segments for their digital marketing.
How does it work?
We have a number of segmentation products. Our most widely used is called Mosaic.
Mosaic works by taking anonymised data (where individuals can’t be identified) and aggregate data (for example for postcodes, towns, regions) from a variety of sources. Then we use statistical techniques to create groupings likely to share similar demographics, lifestyles and behaviours.
Those groupings are then assigned to every household in the UK.
In this way we can understand the likely characteristics of consumers, if their address is known. Or we can combine this information to see the likely characteristics of a particular geographical area.
None of the Mosaic data can be linked back to individual households or postcode areas. Instead, individuals are assigned codes referring to each type of grouping. Thousands of UK adults belong to each group, which are given names (such as ‘G28 – Modern Parents’) and descriptions of the likely characteristics of the households falling within them.
Our clients in the commercial world use these groupings to understand the likely characteristics of their existing customers and communicate with them better, or to find potential new customers.
Outside the commercial world, the emergency services use our segmentation to try to identify groups of people who are most at risk from crime, and public service organisations use it to help direct resources to those people in most need.
Under data protection rules the use of segmentation and profiling is tightly controlled, particularly where any resulting decision made about you is based solely on automated processing (including profiling) and would produce a legal or similarly significant effect for you.
When Experian create a segmentation product like Mosaic, we don’t make any decision based on that information. It’s our clients who make those decisions. Those decisions, in the marketing context, are unlikely to produce any legal or similarly significant effects for you. The likely impact for you will be that you will or will not receive particular marketing communications.
We expect our clients to use our segmentation data for responsible marketing purposes. Experian have strict controls over the kinds of organisations that we allow our data to be used by, so as not to cause any detriment or potential offence to consumers as a result. For example, we don’t supply marketing services for the purposes of promoting pay day loans or tobacco products.
What is modelled data?
Experian modelled data tries to provide insight into the likely characteristics of individuals, households and geographic locations in the UK. Marketers use this to enrich the data they already have relating to people they interact with, such as their own customers.
How does it work?
We use statistical techniques on anonymised data sources to build models, or predictions about likely consumer behaviour.
Then we apply the model across the UK population. The results show us the likelihood that an individual, household or geographic area has certain characteristics or behaviours. For example, we can predict how likely it is that an individual is a short break holiday traveller, or that an area has lots of people who would want to hear about a new restaurant opening.
No model can be 100% certain. Our modelled data simply provides insights to our clients about which products or services might be most relevant to the people they’re communicating with.
What is data linkage?
In marketing, ‘linkage’ means connecting data from different online (or digital) and offline sources in order to identify an individual, household, location or device. It’s about bringing fragmented information into a consistent view of our clients’ customers so that they can understand your needs better. The benefit to you is that if a brand or organisation can identify you consistently across all the channels through which you engage with them (for example by email, through a website and even by post), they can try to ensure the offers and services marketed to you are relevant and consistent across all these channels, providing you with a better overall experience.
Increasingly, our linkage services are enabling organisations to support their more traditional offline marketing such as postal direct mail with digital marketing communications across email, social media, TV and video.
How does it work?
Our linkage database contains various ways of identifying an individual or the household or area in which they live — such as name, postal address, email address, location, device ID or IP address.
With this database we can connect online digital identifiers with our offline demographic, attribute, segmentation and modelled data, enabling insight to be applied. For example, creating a relevant audience for a digital marketing campaign where the publisher or social media platform has the appropriate permission to send marketing communications to you.
Linkage also allows organisations to create a single view of their customers, so they can communicate consistently and provide a better customer experience across all the channels through which you might engage with them. For example, this helps organisations to identify where devices are linked in order for them to communicate with these devices consistently.
Identity and data cleansing services
Our identity and data cleansing services allow us to check an individual’s details against other information obtained about them from other reputable data sources to improve the quality and accuracy of the information on an individual.
More accurate details about individuals helps us to:
- Make sure you receive the communication that was intended for you
- Avoid our clients sending marketing communications to the wrong people
- Check an individual is not on various suppression files such as deceased registers or industry marketing preference files such as the Mailing Preference File, and shouldn’t be contacted
Update customer records on our clients’ files using address re-direction files to ensure that your contact data is kept up-to-date and as accurate as possible
What is marketing analytics?
Marketing analytics can refer to analysis of almost any kind of marketing data in order to gain insight. At Experian we can analyse organisations’ data, where they have your permission to share it with us, to work out the likely characteristics of their customers and help inform their marketing activities.
How does it work?
We run custom analytics projects for clients using a range of data that we possess. This includes personal data, anonymised individual level data where you can’t be identified and aggregated data (often relating to geographical areas such as postcodes, store catchment areas or towns).
Wherever possible during our analytics work we anonymise personal data so it cannot be used to identify anyone.
Examples of the projects we typically undertake include:
- Location planning for retailers to help in setting up new stores or providing products and services which are relevant to the local area
- Developing customer segmentations using a client’s own customer data
- Measuring the impact of marketing activity so that organisations can continually improve the relevancy of their marketing to consumers
- Helping organisations who are planning their future strategy, such as planning new product development or identifying new markets for their service
What are data consortiums?
A data consortium is a group of organisations that decide to pool their information in order to benefit everyone involved.
Experian operates several data consortiums on our clients’ behalf. This allows our clients to share data on their customers, where appropriate notice has been given to the customer, to provide you with a better experience.
How does it work?
When you sign up to a product or service from one of our clients who is a member of one of the consortiums that we run, and where you agree to be contacted by them for marketing purposes, they will share your data with us so we can help them to communicate with you more effectively.
Whilst the data that our members share with us is personal data, we only retain the minimum information needed for the service such as your purchase history or engagement with marketing channels.
With this data we can develop ‘models’ that predict what products or services may be of interest to you, or how you prefer to be contacted. Then we pass this data back to our clients, so they can communicate with you more effectively and provide a better overall customer experience.
The data consortiums we run include:
- Home shopping and direct retailer data consortium — This
contains information and insight about the home shopping and online buying habits
of consumers. Our clients (the members of the consortium) share customer transactional
data with us, which we build into an anonymised set of ‘multi-buyers’
who have bought from two or more members of the consortium. We know how much money
these multi-buyers spent, the date of their most recent purchase and the types of
Once the data is anonymised and aggregated we return aggregated insight reports back to members. Acting on this insight, if you are a customer of one of the members, they may themselves contact you with marketing communications under the contact permissions they hold for you as a customer. However, at no point is the personal data provided to us by consortium members shared with any other members, nor do the reports we provide to members include data that can be used to identify you directly.
Members may also use the insight to define relevant selections for marketing to new prospects directly by using contact names and addresses from Experian’s marketing database, collected in accordance with all relevant laws.
- Email consortium — This helps organisations gain insight into subscribers who have asked to receive email communications from them. Members of the consortium share their subscribers’ personal data with us, such as full name, postal address, email address and engagement metrics. All this data is anonymised and used by Experian to align metrics across subscribers and create behavioural models. This helps members to communicate with their subscribers more effectively across the right channels, at the right time and with the right offers.
- Home shopping and direct retailer data consortium — This contains information and insight about the home shopping and online buying habits of consumers. Our clients (the members of the consortium) share customer transactional data with us, which we build into an anonymised set of ‘multi-buyers’ who have bought from two or more members of the consortium. We know how much money these multi-buyers spent, the date of their most recent purchase and the types of products bought.