On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enforce new standards for the protection of consumer data and have a profound effect on the way companies acquire and manage that data.
So should brands be worried? Will this blow a hole in your EU marketing initiatives and crush your top line? And more to the point, will this be replicated in the U.S.? The answer may seem complicated, but it’s not. The fact is, if regulations like this are going to majorly affect you, your brand is probably already in trouble.
GDPR Is Simply Regulation Catching Up To Preferences
The goal of GDPR is to protect people’s online experiences. Marketers shouldn’t think of the regulation as a restriction to their brand but as an opportunity to provide better service and interactions with their customers.
This is a significant shift, but it’s one that businesses and brands need to embrace. Brands need to stop marketing to audiences and start marketing to people. By doing so, they’re improving user experience to serve user preferences better. It’s not revolutionary or groundbreaking. It’s simply supporting the preference of the consumer.
But, of course, for marketers, new regulations can seem intimidating. What they need to understand is that this really is a good thing for our consumers. With the shift from audience-centric to customer-centric marketing, businesses are forced to think about marketing in a new way — a way that is, in reality, how we should have been thinking about marketing from the very beginning. This means creating marketing campaigns that are catered toward an individual, reaching them with the right message, at the right time and using the right medium. This will take a bit of investment up front, but once we have integrated a people-centric strategy, we’ll be able to unlock stronger results from our marketing than ever before.
Marketers Must Be Held To A Higher Standard
What if we could market to actual people, individually, with tailored, relevant and precisely timed messages? If we were able to personalize our campaigns this way, we could eliminate most or all of the negative customer experience with advertising. In such a case, consumers may not even perceive messages as just marketing. They may truly look forward to receiving communication from your brand.
Marketers have the tools they need to improve their marketing, and we should hold them to that. A higher standard of marketing is in place, and GDPR is just the most recent challenge to do better. Customer-focused trends like people-based marketing (PBM) are able to help savvy marketers excel in their field.
People-based marketing is a strategic approach to marketing in which marketers target individual people — rather than groups — with relevant messaging across different channels and touchpoints. An optimized PBM strategy leverages both consumer identification for accuracy and automation for scale, and it allows brands to release a little of the tension from their shoulders — because they know they are respecting their customers.
PBM can help your brand can survive GDPR unscathed, but if marketers are still worried, there are some other substantial steps they can take:
• Update your privacy policies: The Data Protection Act 1998already requires brands to display a privacy notice when they want to collect personal data, GDPR just takes that requirement a bit further. Brands will have to be more transparent about the data they’re collecting, how they plan on using it and how long they can keep it. This starts with rewriting those privacy notices.
• Ensure your email service providers are also GDPR compliant: This is an important step because while you may be playing by the rules, there’s a possibility they aren’t — and that can still get you in trouble.
• Understand that you’ll be affected: One of the prominent misconceptions I’ve heard surrounding GDPR is that marketers outside of Europe think the new regulations won’t apply to them. That’s just not true. It will apply to all businesses that store personal data about citizens in Europe, including companies on other continents. Therefore, U.S. brands that have a global presence, for instance, absolutely have to pay attention to and adhere to these regulations or risk major fines.
• Hire a data protection officer: In fact, this is required by GDPR for companies that deal with significant amounts of personal data. This role will be crucial to keeping your data flows in check, internally educating and training the company, and ensuring compliance with the new regulations.
The main takeaway here is that marketers need to rise to consumer standards, and GDPR is the first step in accomplishing this goal.