Use My Data, But Don't Abuse It [The Customer Code Series]

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Dharmesh Shah
Dharmesh Shah


Companies that use data effectively have made my life so much easier.

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I used to call a cab and explain my location, now Lyft just detects where I am and lets my driver know.

I used to manually program my phone so it could tell me who was calling, now my phone looks at my email contacts and just tells me (or makes a pretty good guess).

I can’t imagine running my business without data, and today I take an abundance of dashboards and charts for granted.

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I want companies to use my data, when they do the end result is that my life becomes a little easier, a little more convenient, I’m able to get more done in a day.

But I don’t want companies to abuse my data.

Spammy emails. Sloppy data storage. Eerily targeted ads. Data that is collected without my permission. That’s data abuse.

The fourth tenet of The Customer Code is: Use my data, but don’t abuse it. I give HubSpot a 9 out of 10 on this. This is one of our highest scores, and there are three reasons for this:

1) We are sticklers about doing the right thing when it comes to protecting our customers’ data.

To some extent data protection can be solved with money and time, which we have done, investing money and human hours in data infrastructure and security.

We’re thoughtful in how we build the architecture of our software–from the way our Sales Hub products connect to customers’ email accounts, to the SSO implementation that allows seamless (and safe) transition across portals.

We made the decision to apply GDPR principles globally, meaning that regardless of a customer’s location, we will apply the principles around fairness, transparency, and data portability.

But where I see our team really standing out is that we have optimized for fast resolution of vulnerabilities. There is no vulnerability-free software, and attempting to achieve that often slows the pace of innovation. Instead, we’ve invested in testing: in-house testing, four annual penetration tests, continuous vulnerability scanning, and a bug bounty platform. Our team is able to identify, prioritize, and resolve bugs quickly and efficiently.

2) We are sticklers about helping our customers do the right thing when it comes to protecting their customers’ data.

We’re big fans of GDPR, which aligns very nicely with the philosophy of inbound.

Earlier this year, we released a set of features that make it easy for our customers and their teams to comply with GDPR and other data privacy regulations. These features are made available to all HubSpot customers.

3) We want to make our customers’ lives easier by helping them use data to make their customers’ lives easier.

HubSpot customers are growing businesses, many of whom have more impactful things to do than figure out a full AI integration.

Our team is doing the work to figure out when, where, and how growing businesses can leverage AI:

  • Our content strategy tool in Marketing Hub uses machine learning to understand the themes that search engines associate with your content.
  • In the Sales Hub, we launched a send time optimization tool that gets your emails to the right person at the right time.
  • Our machine learning team is currently building automated A/B testing that will run in the background, quietly optimizing campaign performance.

HubSpot stores an enormous amount of data for our customers. We want to protect that data, help our customers derive value from it, and put a stop to all forms of data abuse.

Data is a powerful tool that can be used for good, evil, or just general annoyance. Companies that choose to abuse customer data can certainly grow. But companies that protect data and use it thoughtfully to make customers’ lives just a little bit easier, grow better.

This post is part 5 of 11 in a series on HubSpot’s Customer Code. You can find more info on The Customer Code and how we score ourselves here, and watch my INBOUND talk on this topic here: 

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