Profile picture for user
Posted By

Let’s talk GDPR. Endlessly anticipated, a challenge to the end and now a catalyst for change. Months on from the May 2018 deadline, we are starting to see how this new reality is changing how businesses market to customers and prospects.

The good news is the future looks bright. While the GDPR is an EU regulation, its arrival has coincided with a larger move towards greater end-user control over communication.

The state of California, often a bellwether for American regulation, is currently in the process of implementing its own legislation around privacy, and no doubt others will follow. Seen collectively, GDPR and its counterparts are truly living up to the hype that this is the “biggest change to data protection law for a generation.”

Thankfully the vast majority of this change has been positive, and has coincided with the industry’s prioritization of improved customer experience, relevant communication and brand loyalty. Whether organizations were motivated by the need to be legally compliant, or by a desire to ensure marketing best practice, today we see marketing activities that are more targeted and engaging than ever before.

No more spam

Research from Recorded Future found that spam has fallen since GDPR came into force. That’s heartening. Even better is the decline of emails coming from companies with only a vague connection to the target. Anecdotally I have found my inbox less cluttered in the last few months, and there being a real watershed between all of those “updates to the privacy policy” messages from the spring and now. 

A focus on brand reputation and loyalty

With marketing under the microscope, brands are having to provide better reasons to continue to build customer relationships. Any promotional item or poorly-worded invitation could lead to a complete, total and permanent ban on speaking to an individual. Clickbait is being replaced by relevant content and blatant self-promotion with valuable information.

Highly targeted content

When unsubscribing from emails in the past couple of months, have you noticed the email lists you are leaving are more and more specific? Thank GDPR for this development. Taking the data that you let them collect seriously, marketers are dividing their audiences into smaller segments, helping to provide increasingly targeted content, deeper engagement, and more accurate results.

Better visibility and reporting

One of the key principles of GDPR is that organizations need to implement an opt-in policy and get consent to process personal data. This means that once the old, inactive and opt-out data has been removed, the database is scarily skinny, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality, improving the accuracy of communications and reporting.

Creativity is encouraged

Email communications can be limiting, but there is an opportunity to be creative in the message, approach and channel. This doesn’t just mean fancy colors or catchy taglines, but integrating the audience’s digital body language and behaviors into how we communicate with them. We see excellent results from Instagram, Google AdWords and Facebook, as well as the more traditional B2B channels of LinkedIn and email. Let’s see what the data tells us and experiment.

This is an easy case to overstate. Irrelevant and ineffective marketing has not suddenly been ‘improved,’ but GDPR has certainly provided pause for thought on how we best communicate, engage and build a relationship with our audiences, today and in the future.

Thea Parnell is a Director who leads the firm’s marketing practice in London