GDPR: Taking a ‘Glass Half Full’ Approach



gdpr1The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes the law of the land in the European Union on May 25, 2018. I’ve read a lot of ‘glass half empty’ commentary about current marketing practices that will be difficult or prohibited under the new regulations.

But the more I read the more I feel that there is a huge ‘glass half full’ opportunity here for smart marketers. I’ve shared this with my clients and with those who attended the Email Innovations Summit in London last month; now I’d like to share it with you.

GDPR is really about data – data is right there in the name and key provisions of the regulation cover the collection and use of customer and prospect data.

Data equals relevance. The organizations that are best able to collect and use data will be able to provide more relevant marketing to their customers and prospect. These organizations will also be the big winners once GDPR goes into effect.

According to Virgil, an ancient Roman poet, “Fortune favors the bold.”

My advice in the face of GDPR? Be bold.

Bold marketers are viewing GDPR as an opportunity.

You know that old saying about the cobbler’s children having no shoes? Many marketing departments are great at marketing their company’s products and services, but they haven’t spent much time or effort speaking to their audience about the value of having a marketing relationship with their organization. This goes to the heart of GDPR.

gdpr2As marketers we need to start using the tools of our trade to showcase the value of the marketing relationship, to build connections that make customers and prospects comfortable giving trusted brands their personal data and the right to use it. We need to make sure that our children, our marketing programs, have not just shoes but ruby red slippers.

This isn’t legal advice; you can get that from your lawyer. This is marketing advice on how to not just survive but thrive under GDPR. And you know what? Even if you don’t need to comply with GDPR, these ideas will improve your marketing and your position for whatever data regulations are passed in the future.

Here’s how to get started.

Basic Email Opt-in

gdpr3GDPR requires that organizations get affirmative consent that is “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” before sending marketing communications. Most of the discussion around this has centered on pre-checked boxes, the fact that they won’t be valid for consent after GDPR takes effect and the fact that without pre-checked boxes list growth will suffer.

Bold marketers see this as an opportunity to get the resources needed to do something they’ve wanted to do for a long time: create an acquisition process that showcases the value of the marketing relationship and makes people excited to provide consent.

An easy place to start is with copy – what’s in it for the customer or prospect?

Not bold: “Check this box to receive email from this brand.”

Bold: outlining the feature, benefit and advantage of signing up for email. Giving people a reason not just to take an action to opt-in, but to look forward to receiving the first message.

Use of Data

gdpr4This is the biggest potential loss for marketers. GDPR states that data (gathered previously and going forward) can continue to be used in an anonymous fashion, for instance to develop personas. But it also states that organizations must get affirmative consent to use data (gathered previously and going forward) in a non-anonymous fashion, for instance to calculate customer lifetime value.

Bold marketers see this as a challenge; and they know that those who can get affirmative consent for the most valuable uses of data will reap great rewards.

An easy place to start is with an audit of what data you’re currently using and how you’re using it. Prioritize by most to least valuable, factoring in impact on the bottom line. If you have time, go one step further and think about what you’d like to do in the future.

Not bold: calculating the quantitative impact of discontinuing these uses of data that aren’t allowed under GDPR without consent to negotiate a decrease in your revenue goal.

Bold: Developing a plan to get consent from new and existing customers and prospects to continue the most valuable uses of data after GDPR takes full effect. Make sure you make the case by talking about what’s in it for the customer or prospect; use layman’s terms, not legalese.

Access, Objections and Erasure

gdpr5GDPR requires organizations to give individuals:

  • Access their personal data and information about how their data is being used
  • The ability to object to some or all uses of data (including direct marketing)
  • The right to have organizations delete or remove their personal data

Bold marketers see any opportunity for communication with customers and prospects as a positive – and look for ways to leverage it.

Not bold: looking at this as a cost center, something your organization is being forced to spend budget on and trying to do it in the least expensive way possible.

Bold: Seeing this as an opportunity to increase goodwill, expand the marketing relationship, improve trust, generate positive word-of-mouth and even, maybe, gather more data. Developing a mechanism to meet the requirements of GDPR as well as seize the opportunities listed here. It’s not anywhere near perfect, but Acxiom’s is a good start in this direction.

Wrapping This Up

gdpr6Don’t just give up. Making the effort to get affirmative consent not just to email your customers and prospects but to use their data to add relevance to your marketing takes effort. But it will pay off in spades.

Marketers who see GDPR as an opportunity, not a burden, will win the day – and the week, and the year, and the decade. Be bold and view the glass as half full.



Title: GDPR: Taking a ‘Glass Half Full’ Approach
About: General Data Protection Regulation
Audience: Email Marketers
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