In six months, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force and transform lead generation and nurturing for good. We’ve previously discussed how the regulations will change how companies communicate with their audiences, but we thought it would be worth spending a little more time stressing the importance of GDPR compliance, and how your email marketing fits in.
Soon, regulators will be able to impose fines totalling €20m, or 4 per cent of annual turnover. However, industry experts are pointing to other even more pressing consequences stemming from nuisance calls and emails.
Consumers could take you to court
The incoming data protection laws could bring about consequences far more troubling than regulatory penalties.
"One point I think people miss when they're looking at GDPR is that they are always looking at the regulator," Julian Box, CEO of Calligo, stated recently at a roundtable event. "But the real challenge is going to come from people asking, 'what data do you have on me?'"
People who discover their data is being held or used illegally once GDPR comes into force could potentially file a class-action suit in pursuit of personal gain. It’s thought that over time, the costs of this trend could represent a far bigger financial burden than regulatory fines alone.
Robert Bond, partner at law firm Bristows, explained: “You can imagine, if a million people make a claim of £1,000 each, that dwarfs any of the other fines.”
Email marketing could represent one way in which data breaches of this scale could occur. With the wrong contact list in use, mass mailer campaigns could easily breach GDPR compliance numerous times in one send. It’s not hard to see how one click of a button could come with big consequences.
Altogether, the potential cost of fines from regulators, legal costs from individuals, related damage to brand value and falling share prices could lead to a “perfect storm” strong enough to destroy otherwise healthy companies.
Marketing after GDPR: Taking back control
The biggest challenge for many companies is understanding where their data comes from. Often, sales departments will simply be fed leads to nurture to conversion, with no clue of who they are, where they came from or how they’re being stored.
And let’s be honest, many companies try and hang on to data for dear life, in the hope it will one day come in use and prove valuable to the business. Unfortunately for some, under GDPR consent will need to be clear and informed. Those long lost data lists will not only be of little practical use to companies – they could actually risk being fined, taken to court and publicly called out in front of customers.
We’ve all received at least one of those mass mailers sent to thousands of email addresses, lacking any personalisation and sharing rather vague content that could apply to just about anyone. But where did this data come from? Were contact details voluntarily shared, or brokered by a mysterious third party that gives no indication of their true origin?
When it comes to complying with GDPR email marketing is one of the first things companies should be looking at. Say goodbye to your overflowing address book, and focus on generating inbound leads in a legally and ethically compliant manner.
Show them what inbound marketing can do
Ultimately, anyone involved in data protection has plenty to gain from GDPR if they can rise to the challenge. Their roles will become far more important within their company, and they will likely be empowered if they can offer solutions to meet the new regulations effectively.
Those solutions don’t need to be rocket science, either. An inbound marketing strategy can attract relevant leads to you and convince them to share their contact details in exchange for a valuable offering – this could be a downloadable guide, a phone consultation or a free ticket to an event.
By encouraging leads to come directly to you, rather than finding or purchasing their data, you’ll not only be on the right side of the law – you’ll also be far more likely to see a positive response from your marketing efforts. Inbound leads are relevant to your market, actively seeking solutions, and prepared to hear from you. It’s a win-win-win scenario!
If you want to learn more about GDPR compliance and email marketing, get in contact with Six & Flow. We're an inbound marketing agency with proven experience in lead generation and nurturing - so ask away.