Think back a couple of months, you were probably asking yourself: "What is GDPR? Is this the Millennium bug all over again? Do I need to build a bunker?" Well, now it's happened, and we're still here. But how have marketing activities changed since, and why are some companies still struggling?
Let’s play devil's advocate for a minute. GDPR came into place to protect and serve the consumer, not kill business. If you aim to use data to enrich and improve the customer's experience, then you have nothing to fear. However, if you are still looking at data as simple lead generation then you may end up in hot water.
What is GDPR trying to teach us?
The main issue people have (and remember, they are people, not just 0s and 1s) is how businesses acquire their information as opposed to what information they actually have.
Third party data is a great way of painting a picture of an individual and better understanding their motivations, but there is a clear line between being helpful and overstepping the mark. If you are buying in non-compliant data and using it to reach out without legitimate interest, and in an impersonal manner, eventually the ICO are going to be having a quiet (or not so quiet) word with you.
Consumers - those people on the other end of the phone or on the the other side of the screen - are generally happy for you to have their information so long as they understand how this is improving their customer experience. On the other hand, unsolicited calls are generally unwelcome, and now have legal consequences.
Who is feeling the effects?
Big companies such as Walmart, Toyota, and Apple are under particularly harsh scrutiny to achieve compliance, with fines totalling £20 million or 4% of annual revenues coming their way if they don’t get their ‘ish together. In the case of smaller companies, the fines will be more relevant to revenue circumstances, but SMEs still need to get their houses in order.
On top of their obvious need to become compliant with GDPR, smaller companies may also become more attractive to hackers, now that larger players are becoming far more secure to meet GDPR legislation.
Luckily, the ICO has published a lot of useful guidance that can help SMEs to understand the complex requirements of GDPR. Taking advantage of this assistance and seeking external advice can be incredibly useful, especially for small companies that might not have an abundance of cyber expertise in-house.
What is GDPR actually doing to your business and your bottom line?
It’s important not to view the ICO as the enemy.
Yes, it might be making it trickier to prospect, so your number of leads my decrease.
However, due to more stringent rules regarding data security, you have the opportunity to increase user experience so conversion should go up.
It will obviously take time before the full benefits start to show, however have patience. Give your prospects the help they are looking for with a genuinely personalised journey, and we're confident you'll see strong results.
And finally, ask yourself, what is GDPR really fighting for? It hasn't killed off networking or reaching out to the extent some feared it could. It’s just lowered the level of anxiety people have when answering withheld numbers. If you have a genuine solution to someone’s problem, and you're going to put in the graft to show it, GDPR isn't going to hang you for doing so.