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The wait is over and the big day finally arrived. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation law, better known as GDPR, took effect last week! Some companies have been on top of GDPR from the moment of its inception, giving themselves a two year window in which to sort out their compliance and for them, this week it’s simply business as usual. For others, however, it has been a mad dash of last minute preparations to ensure legality.
While the data stakes are bigger now, this is a very straightforward law at heart, or perhaps better said, as straightforward as an eleven chapter, 99 article law can be. From a marketing perspective, it simply means that if someone is in the market for your product or service and they want to hear from you, then you can market to them. To go a little deeper, however, this is a consumer rights initiative, so don’t market to those who don’t raise their hands to you. They shouldn’t even be in your database if they haven’t agreed to be there. But it’s not as bad as you think - below are a few things to keep in mind in this brave new GDPR world.
GDPR is designed to provide Europe with a uniform data protection policy. While the law is a European one, it protects all Europeans no matter where the marketing content comes from. That’s not to say that a US company who sells vacuum cleaners locally has to necessarily worry about someone in England googling them, but if this person them enters into their marketing automation, GDPR does apply. Equally, if you have a European customer base, then GDPR pertains to you. You can localize your content all you want, but at the end of the day, WWW stands for world wide web, there are no geographic barriers for your content.
But, just because someone finds you via Google doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t read your content, it’s the form beneath the call to action that you need to be wary of (unless you accumulate data via cookies or other means in which case you should consult an expert). And it’s actually not that hard to fix…
I started using double opt in on forms almost two years ago while working for a German software company and the rules are already strict, you can take a look at the view on double opt of our VP of global marketing here . Personally, my first reaction when I heard about our policy was “how in the world are we ever going to get any leads?”, but I have to say that not only were my fears unfounded, it’s actually made my job easier. When sending an email to a database full of people who want to hear from you, guess what? They actually engage. Yes, asking people to click another button to download a piece of content does seem a bit daunting, but there are two reasons that this is a good thing, besides your email open rate.
a. You have to produce enticing content
Double opt-in isn’t exactly a laborious step for someone to take when downloading a piece of content, but it does give them a second to think twice about whether or not they want to share their contact information. That second will of course result in some people changing their minds but the way to get around that is to produce content that’s actually compelling enough.
So you can actually use GDPR as an opportunity to audit your content and think about how it can be made better, as well as being motivation to improve its quality in the future.
b. Your data quality will improve
Besides engagement, data quality is vital to healthy lead nurturing strategies and eventual handovers to your sales team. Until today, the mantra for many marketing teams was quantity over quality, and that strategy made sense to an extent - you never know if firstname.lastname@example.org is eventually going to convert. But, now that having too much data can get you into trouble, that strategy isn’t worth it. True, utilizing the data correctly will require thought and strategy, but your data analysts will be able to spend their time with real data rather than sifting through a bunch of junk.
The fines for non-compliance are real. Violations of GDPR can result in fines up to 20 million euros or 4 percent of your worldwide turnover over the preceding 12 months. This would bankrupt many companies and certainly dent an earnings report of those companies that it may not bankrupt. If that is not reason enough to drive you to rethink your digital marketing strategies then perhaps nothing is, but considering that the average cost per lead in the tech space is 45 dollars , the business value of these lead is likely to increase, leading to big savings for your company.
*Please note that this blog is not legal advice
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