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GDPR: Going beyond compliance to create competitive edge

Does hearing those four letters still bring you out in a cold sweat? Don’t fear – GDPR can deliver more opportunities for marketing than you’d think. Rebecca Ley writes

Are you still hiding from GDPR as though it’s your tax return or an idle gym membership? Rest assured, the new year is over, and no one’s asking you to deal with HMRC or a marathon. Although it may feel like it, B2B Marketing contends that GDPR needn’t be a headache after May. What seems like Doomsday could actually bring about some positive change in your organisation, and an opportunity to revamp your strategies and processes for good, giving you a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Here’s how.

It’ll raise the profile of marketing within the organisation

“Marketing has the potential to mess this up quicker and with more damage than any other part of the business,” said one marketing director about GDPR at a recent event B2B Marketing co-hosted. Despite this, marketing can be a blind spot for organisations when it comes to the new regulation, focusing instead on data sources and cybersecurity.

If you lean into GDPR, however, it can help increase the value of marketing within your business. “Core to what we’re trying to do as marketers is to drive the experience for customers and prospects – to communicate with them when, where and how they want to be communicated with,” says Holly Rollo, CMO at RSA Security. “GDPR is inconvenient in the short term, but is great for us in the long term because it'll help us achieve that goal."

Making sure you’re involved in the conversation and taking the lead on GDPR is essential for success, says Holly. “We’re going to have to lead that charge. There’s an opportunity if we lean into GDPR and the changes that need to happen. From a process standpoint, systems, training and understanding, we can really get to where we want to get to, which is that full omnichannel experience for our customers.”

It’s an opportunity to stop emailing, and start doing something better

The vast majority of marketing emails get lost in the deluge of comms prospects receive. While this isn’t a GDPR-specific problem, the new regime will see you using a vastly reduced database, whether the legal ground underpinning your marketing is consent or legitimate interest.

This is actually no bad thing. Instead of flogging mass marketing to death, GDPR presents a great opportunity to re-evaluate your strategy. That may even mean choosing a more effective channel entirely. Last summer, for example, saw pub chain JD Wetherspoon deleting all of its customers’ email addresses for that very reason. Direct mail may see a comeback as email’s replacement, being a channel that doesn’t necessarily need personal data and sets a lower threshold for consent.​

Whichever strategy best fits your business, attention will have to be paid to those younger marketers in your team whose skills revolves around email marketing. Giving them training and support now will keep everyone ahead of the game before 26 May.

Better data, and more effective targeting, will give you better results

According to a survey by software provider Veritas, some 92% of marketers think their organisation will benefit from better data ‘hygiene’ enforced by the regulation, and almost half (45%) expect to reduce costs, increase revenue or market share with better data management.

These drivers might help ease the thought of letting go of contacts and databases you’ve spent months and years building and curating. Although scrapping data might seem counterintuitive, if a significant proportion of that database never responds, what value is it actually bringing to you?

Under GDPR, keeping data forever ‘just in case’ is no longer an option. Individuals need to understand how their data is being processed and how long you intend to store it. These regulations may cause concern in terms of shrinking your audience, but you should be left with a more engaged, valuable one at the end of it.

Download a complimentary copy of the full report GDPR: 5 reasons why B2B marketers should embrace it, here

Getting to grips with the GDPR: A B2B marketer’s guide

This free comprehensive guide explains what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is, how this incoming data protection law will affect your organisation, and the practical steps to take to prepare for it.

Learn how to comply

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