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GDPR: Will marketing still exist come Friday 25th May?

24/05/18 Martin Crapper Managing Director

This Friday will see the execution of a new set of regulations that has the possibility to change the face of digital marketing. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been introduced to strengthen protection of consumers’ privacy and give them greater control over how their data is collected, stored and processed. GDPR will require marketers to secure explicit permission for data-use activities within the European Union. With new and substantial constraints on what had been largely unregulated data-collection practices, marketers will now have to find ways to target digital ads, less dependent (or not at all) on hoovering up large quantities of behavioural data.

In the last few months we have already seen a range of developments resulting from the forthcoming implementation of GDPR. Dozens of messages, whether via email or text, are being distributed from web-based companies such as Google, Twitter, Amazon, Snapchat etc.

A lot of time and effort has been dedicated to preparing organisations’ data-use activities, however little time has been dedicated to the aftermath of GDPR. The question everyone is asking is…will marketing still exist come Friday 25th May?

“Of course it will!” says Martin Crapper, Redline Group’s Director. “It is true that for some organisations, large parts of their database will be rendered useless but that should only be one arm of your multi-channel marketing. Transparency is understood as being clear about what your intentions are with customer data. This may be true, but it is only a part of the story. Transparency must work both ways. GDPR allows you to get a snapshot view of your potential customers’ intentions. In the past, organisations have boasted about how big their database is, however, it’s no longer about size, it’s all about engagement. There is no point in having large amounts of contact data if the contacts never engage with your marketing communications.”

Data has transformed the world of marketing, enabling organisations to target their customers with an extraordinary level of granularity and accuracy. From purchased databases to tracking a particular consumer’s website behaviour, data has been plentiful and easy to obtain.

GDPR, will significantly restrict marketers’ access to the data they have relied on for the last several years. For one thing, marketers will be able to collect only as much data as is necessary and relevant for the activity in question. They won’t be able to request information on household income, for example, from a user who just wants to sign up for a newsletter. For years, it has been a common practice among marketers to collect email addresses for purposes when downloading a white paper and to then continue using those addresses to send marketing emails. Under the GDPR, that will no longer be allowed. Any data that is collected can be used for that purpose only unless the consumer gives explicit consent for it to be used for additional purposes.

Essentially, GDPR should be seen as a platform to build trust with the segments of database that do want to keep in touch. It should be the dawn of a new age of transparency and, more importantly, accountability.

GDPR is more than just a date…

GDPR is more than just a date or a deadline to meet. It is a transformation in how we approach marketing moving forward. It signals a shift that in many ways was long overdue.

The implications for the future of marketing still remain unclear and this is why it is exciting. It is time for a change that may shake up the marketing sector and we cannot predict how the sector will look. However, it is a chance to stake a claim on the future of modern marketing in the EU.

Keep calm

May 25th is here. While it appears that many organisations will not meet the deadline, it is important to make as much progress as you can by that date so that you can demonstrate your good-faith efforts to regulatory bodies. That way you are less likely to be subjected to the crippling fines. Nevertheless, when it comes to GDPR, it is not worth testing the regulator’s patience. There are rules in place that must be adhered to.

The future of marketing

In the long-term, GDPR is not something we will do just once and file it away in a drawer and never think about it again. Instead, it introduces a fundamental shift in the way businesses use personal data, one that will forever change common marketing activities.

It’s safe to say that many marketing professionals are already busy adapting marketing best practices to this new reality. In addition to achieving compliance, it is important to look beyond the deadline and to start figuring out how your organisation can accomplish its marketing goals in this new reality and most importantly, get major benefits from it as another way to strengthen a client centric approach of your business.

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