We all leave a digital footprint every time we visit a website, post a picture, leave a comment or even browse through a post. This allows companies to get our personal data and preferences.
Due to the rampant use of the internet, our personal data is collected at an alarmingly high rate and it has now become one of the most valuable resources in the world since it affects the way companies interact with their customers.
Unfortunately, this has led to the misuse of personal data and a lot of customers aren’t sure how companies are using their data, nor do they trust them. This vulnerability to theft and misuse have led to several studies that have found that almost 92% customers believe there is a threat to their personal data and privacy, and 52% customers don’t trust brands.
In another report by Symantec, 90% of businesses believe it is very tough to completely delete customer’s private date, while 60% businesses don’t even have a process in place to do so!
This just shows the vast disconnect between what customers need and what the businesses are offering to provide them when it comes to security and privacy.
In order to protect consumer interests and monitor how companies use their data, GDPR was introduced by the European Union in 2018 as a way to set down laws for safeguarding personal data and information.
So, what exactly is GDPR?
The GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation was put in place to create standardised regulations to protect customers and requires companies to provide mandatory privacy settings in their digital products and websites, also turned on by default.
The European Union regulators believed that companies haven’t been transparent about their user of personal data and thus in an attempt to put the power back in the customers’ hands, this regulation has been set in place. It aims to make companies more accountable for their actions and puts customers before business so that individuals aren’t exploited.
Under this regulation, businesses need to maintain a record of how they use customers’ personal data, keep updated with privacy impact assessments, the way they handle data breaches, and much more. This regulation is legally binding and not complying with it can lead to huge fines!
GDPR and Marketing – what is the impact?
On the face of it, GDPR may seem harsh, especially for small business owners, but ultimately it is a great opportunity for businesses and customers alike. GDPS focuses on 3 main areas –
You cannot simply assume a prospect or customer wants to be contacted by you, you need to explicitly ask for their permission in order to send them marketing material. And it can’t be an ambiguous default tick mark box at signing up either, they need to clearly express there affirmation on receiving this material. There is, however, the possibility of using “Legitimate Interest” but that needs more justification and qualification.
The GDPR now needs companies to provide justification for why they collect the data they are collecting. This essentially just means they need to be able to justify what they are collecting and not collect any extra unnecessary information.
For instance, if you need to know the clothing size of each of your customers and can provide an explanation as to why, you can go ahead collecting it.
Each customer has the right to be forgotten and to get inaccurate or outdated information about them removed. The GDPR allows them to have full control as well as access to their data, along with the right to get it removed if they want.
If you are taking care of these above areas in your business, you can definitely reap the benefits that GDPR comes with. One of the biggest is the fact that this compliance comes with the great opportunity of staying connected with the right customers who are engaged with your business and create targeted marketing campaigns.
Here’s why GDPR is a golden opportunity for marketers:
• Understanding customers’ exact interests
Under the GDPR, you need explicit consent from customers to send them any kind of communication, which means that these forms can be much more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to subscribe. You can ask them to choose from a big range of options which in turn also helps you narrow down what the customer’s exact interests are.
You can then segment them appropriately into customer persons and send them only the kind of information they are looking for, removing the need for a ‘one size fits all’ email marketing campaign.
• Building trust
Being transparent and open with each other can help gain trust between the customer and the company. By fully disclosing what you do with the consumer’s personal data and how you use it, you are paving a way for trust which is only beneficial in the long run.
• Using a single CRM platform
With the ‘right to be forgotten,’ customers can ask companies to delete any and every bit of data they have on them. If this data is stored on different platforms in bits and pieces, this request may not be handled as easily as it should be.
By employing a company wide Customer Relationship Management system that lets you store all your customers’ data in one place, not only can you fully comply with the request and stay compliant to the GDPR, but also properly assess customers due to the fact that all their data can be found in one place and you aren’t missing any information!
Are you GDPR compliant?
If you’re still wondering about the merits of GDPR or whether you are even compliant, here are some practical tips to make sure you are going forward the right way.
1. Recheck your mailing lists
Make sure that your current mailing lists are all up to date and do not contain any people who did not opt in for your emails specifically in the first place (unless you are relying on Legitimate Interest).
2. Change the way you collect data
If you’ve ever bought any mailing lists you need to immediately delete those contacts as they violate the regulations and you need to employ a better way for new subscribers to opt in personally. This can be done by adding pop ups or push notifications on your website for mailing lists or specifically asking them to opt in to certain information that they would like to receive during signing up.
Create targeted marketing strategies
Producing tailored content can help you get more subscribers as they can download and get white papers, guides and eBooks in exchange for their contacts.
Use a CRM to store all your customer contact information in a centralised system so that it is easy for you as well as users to access and change the way you use their data.
New sales techniques
Instead of just using email marketing as a way to contact new customers, educate your sales teams to use other mediums like social media and account based marketing to connect with prospects and customers and share relevant data.
Change privacy statement
Review your privacy statement and ensure it is easy to read and understand. It should be clear to your users, not purposely ambiguous, and make sure it does not violate the GDPR in any way.
It is important to understand that the GDPR is not against marketers and is in fact a more wholesome way to communicate with your customers, since you are only communicating what they want from you. The rules for compliance are easy once you understand them and can overall lead to a very beneficial relationship between the customer and company.