The General Data Protection Regulation is coming (GDPR for short), but most companies are still unaware of the impact this will have. It’s a bit like standing on a high-speed train track - you may not see the train coming but you know it's on its way, and you sure as shit don’t want to be there when the train arrives.

You need to get off the tracks and move forward to a better model of business, one which involves explicit opt-in but also brings leads to you. So for those who are still in the dark about GDPR legislation, here is an urgent warning ahead of the new EU privacy regulation which become effective from 25th May 2018.

The EU Parliament has seen a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of the issue over the years, but they’ve finally set a date for implementing a strict zero-tolerance policy towards data protection. Any organisations that fail to comply with the GDPR will be charged with a fine of £17.2m (€20m) or 4% of their annual turnover – whichever is higher.

Does your marketing department even know what GDPR is?

Regardless of your sector, be it healthcare, IT, public services, finance, education or sales, you need to act right now. The new law applies to all of us and few companies can afford to simply ignore it. The message from the GDPR is clear - reconsider how you collect and store personal data or take a hit.

The new legislation has laid out new requirements for businesses, including:

  • Organisations over a certain size, must employ a Data Protection Officer to ensure data is responsibly collected and appropriately secured.
  • Data security breaches must be immediately reported to the IICO no longer than 72 hours after the breach occurred.
  • Individuals are entitled to ‘the right to be forgotten’ which would withdraw consent of use of their personal data.

This applies to all of us and we can’t afford to simply ignore it. The message from the GDPR is clear and it'd be a huge shame to see businesses suffer over something so easily avoidable.  

GDPR explained: What is classed as ‘sensitive’ data?

In the digital era, defining ‘sensitive’ data can be complex. It no longer just refers to names, addresses and credit card details, but also the likes of cookies and IP addresses.

For organisations that don’t collect personal online data, the collection of such information in the form of HR records and customer lists may already be compliant with GDPR – but appropriate security and encryption of this data is now mandatory rather than recommended.

How can businesses make sure that they are protected? For a start, you can move your business model away from outbound and outdated data lists and cold calling, and towards something more consumer-centric that builds trust and generates leads.

Building consumer trust with a creative inbound model

Transitioning from outbound to inbound needn’t be as difficult as you think it may be, either. Companies that have already futureproofed their inbound lead generation with GDPR compliance in mind will be able to accelerate their growth marketing with little to no worry of breaching new EU regulations.

Most importantly, those that have created an inbound marketing strategy around collecting and using data in a transparent, ethical way will also be less likely to attract the ire of potential and existing customers, helping to build brand trust in the long-term.

In a survey of 2,000 UK adults by Informatica in their ‘The State of the Data Nation’ report, 73% said they were wary of how their personal data and information is used and shared amongst online brands.

In fact, having a clear privacy policy in place is the second most important thing that brands can do to earn consumer trust, according to 43% of respondents.

Again, businesses can be building that trust right now amongst potentially high-value leads in their market. A transparent and creative inbound marketing strategy can attract a targeted market and collect data in ethical ways to scale business growth in the long-term.

That includes creating attractive, entertaining content that excites and informs in equal measure. It includes reaching out to people and building relationships on individual levels through social media. It means building a strong search presence that puts you in front of people who want to find you, and respecting them and the data they choose to pass your way.

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