GDPR is coming. If you don't know anything about GDPR, one of these things is true:

  • You have clients, customers or people you market to in Europe and are woefully underprepared for the legal wrath to come
  • You don't have customers in Europe and don't really need to know anything about it.

If you fit one of the above, or just genuinely curious, here's a breakdown of what it is.

Even if you don't need to worry about GDPR as a marketer, why should you still pay attention to it?

It forces permission-based marketing

The core part of GDPR is having a paper-trail (well...a digital paper trail anyway) of your contacts or leads opting-in to receiving marketing messages from you or how they want to be tracked online. It's more than just burying a greyed-out unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email or 8 point font privacy policy links in the footer of your site.

Each user you reach out to has to have explicitly said yes to hearing from you.

You can't buy lists. You can't just guess at someone's email address and add them to your database. You either have to have opt-in status or at least communicate with them on a relevant business situation (which makes B2B compliance considerably easier than B2C from what I've observed).

You truly have to have permission to talk to someone.

So, that may hurt your impressions. It will likely decrease your reach. However, in theory, it should improve the quality of your marketing contact lists. You're only talking to people who want to hear from you. Isn't that a more efficient use of time?

Reach people where they want to be reached

Someone opts out of your email list? That's a bummer. However, there are a myriad of ways to reach those same people. Email is just one channel of many in a marketer's toolbelt. You could:

  • Have well targeted ads either on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Terminus, or other ad networks that re-engage that consumer's interest. You may not have the benefit of re-targeting all the time but you can still do well targeting on general behaviors and interests.
  • Create other digital experiences (a mobile app, game, etc) that drive more interest and engagement with your brand, even if it's not explicitly transactional.
  • Host events or work with influencers; garner third-party recognition for what you're doing (aka PR)

Plan ahead - it's probably going to happen in the US too

Zuckerberg got grilled by Congress (sorta) for two days. The media has focused on data privacy thanks to 2016 election tactics. We also tend to follow suit on some European legislation over time.

It's not a matter on if we have data privacy laws here in the US. It's a matter of when. Having a process in place that follows the stricter rules out there will create less work for you down the road. It's the approach we've taken at North Highland. Even though we are working through GDPR because we're a global company and have to, we're implementing those same standards across our entire marketing function.

Sure compliance may be a pain. Facing a multi-million dollar fine for not doing it is intimidating.

In my opinion, respecting people's data and boundaries is just good marketing. It's a more efficient use of a marketer's time and makes fewer people mad along the way.

Have you had to address GDPR? Any thoughts heading into the deadline? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!


Photo by on Unsplash