Marketing in a Post-GDPR World!

Marketing in a Post-GDPR World!

The purpose of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is to compel marketers to be more thoughtful, transparent, and respectful of the data they collect and use. Realistically, that means marketers need to take a step back - to stop personalizing every piece of information without regard for what is appropriate for the consumer.

GDPR gives the power to consumers to control the use of their data. Any European consumer can call out any company and ask the company to account for the data they've collected and how it's being used.

To master marketing in post-GDPR world, Gartner analyst Bryan Yeager has said that marketers should elevate the importance of privacy as part of their data-driven initiatives. "Audit your current marketing activities, including what data has been collected and how it's processed. Co-ordinate closely with your legal and privacy teams about your approach. And think about how you can use a pivotal moment like GDPR as a way to engender value and trust in your future engagements with customers", he suggested.

It's very concerning to know that a very whopping 41% of marketers admit to not fully understanding both the GDPR law and the best practices around the use of consumers' personal data.

To quickly check if you're complying with GDPR today, see if you can answer 'Yes' to the following:
  1. You've built privacy settings into the digital products and websites - and have them switched on by default.
  2. You regularly conduct privacy impact assessments, strengthen the way you seek permission to use personal data, document how you use personal data, and improve the way you communicate data breaches.

To put it simply, if you have a list of leads, you can't send them a promotional email UNLESS they have given you consent for it. You can't even send them an email asking if they want to hear more from you, and as such, is a violation of GDPR.

In August 2016, Flybe sent an email to 3.3 million people in their database with the subject line "Are your details correct?". In theory, this sounds like a smart strategy, but unfortunately, these 3.3 million people had previously opted out (unsubscribed) to marketing emails and thereby gave no consent to be contacted. Result? A fine of 70,000 pounds.
Key takeaway: If your customers have opted-out of marketing emails, don't email them - it's as simple as that. You're breaking the law if you do.

Best practices to keep yourself GDPR compliant

1. Signup Forms: 

Don't assume a person wants to receive your future offers just because she made a purchase. Don't assume a person who opts-in for a newsletter subscription also wants all your marketing materials. And please - remove all pre-ticked boxes that seek permission for future contact from your emails.

Consent must be very clear, and the retailer must keep records of consent under the GDPR's accountability principle.

2. Consent Settings

The right to be forgotten has become one of the most talked-about rulings in EU Justice Court history. It gives people the right to have old or false personal data removed, and it has already been implemented with companies like Google, which was forced to remove pages from its search engine results in order to comply.

As a marketer, it will be your responsibility to make sure that your users can easily access their data, and remove consent for its use, in line with the right to be forgotten. 

This can be as simple as including an unsubscribe link within your email marketing template and linking to a user profile that allows users to manage their email preferences (as shown in the example below).

3. Take What You Need

Marketers get greedy when it comes to getting formed filled out by customers. We tend to ask for information that we might not even require. Ask yourself, do I really need to know someone's favorite holiday destination before they subscribe to our newsletter? Probably not.

To stop the collection of unnecessary data, GDPR requires you to legally justify the processing of personal data you collect. Don't worry - this is not very complicated.

What this means is that you need to focus on the data that's really useful to you, and stop asking for the "good to haves". If you really need to know a piece of customer information, and can prove why you need it, then you can continue asking for it. But try to avoid collecting any unnecessary data, and stick with the basics.

Actionable tip for GDPR-compliant marketing

Data collection: If you still buy mailing lists, it's probably a bad idea to continue. In fact, you should dump the data you bought right away, because a single complaint from a customer about a breach of consent can subject you to a penalty of up to 4% of your gross revenue. Instead, start fresh. Find new ways of collecting opt-in data by introducing clear, brief web-forms. 

Scan your list: Go through your data list periodically and remove the data without an record of opting in. For new subscribers. make sure that they want to receive emails from you by sending them a re-confirmation email after they opt-in for a mailing list.

Content marketing: Content is more important than ever in a post-GDPR world. Since you can only send your communications to interested people, you need a lot of content to generate that interest. Also, you can ask customers to subscribe in order to access content like e-books, infographics, webinars and whitepapers.

Pop-ups: Invite website visitors to add themselves to a mailing list by launching a pop-up on your website. The conversion rate of pop-ups is only around 3%, but like other marketing communications such as emails and Facebook ads, if the pop-ups are launched at the right time with the right message, they can give you a higher conversion rate of up to 40%.

Data storage: In a data-conscious world, you cannot afford to keep records in a spreadsheet and manage the data manually. You need a CRM application where you, and your sales team, can keep updating the data and centralizing your data collection. Of course, CRM applications come with a lot of other benefits as well.

Social selling: Since reaching customers over email is subject to some legal restrictions, find new ways of reaching out to them outside the scope of the GDPR law. Educate your sales team on social selling and connecting with customers on social media sites. Social media will also give your salespeople some perspective on your customers and help them approach with the right message.

Push notifications: You may also take a shot at push notifications. These are pop-ups that seek permission from website visitors to send them promotional notifications. One advantage of this is that once the customer allows you to send them push notifications, they will receive notifications from you even after they have closed your website. One disadvantage of push notifications is that they cannot be personalized, since IP addresses are anonymous.

Privacy policy: Update your privacy statement to let people know that you are GDPR compliant. Mention what you do with customer data you collect and that you don't engage in any practices in violation of customer privacy.


Remember, GDPR hasn't been enacted to stop marketers from communicating with customers. Quite the opposite, actually. It's designed to increase the quality of customer data. The best and most resourceful marketers are seeing the bigger picture and recognizing that it's an opportunity to personalize messages for their prospects and customers, rather than using the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.

The rules of GDPR compliance are quite simple: don't contact someone unless they specifically ask you to. Don't assume they want to hear from you. Don't cold contact them, and don't send them irrelevant information that they didn't request. If you can do all that, then you've done your job in complying with GDPR.

Is your marketing GDPR compliant?

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