The GDPR: a regulation that is going to change the marketing world more than any other before

Igor Pauletič / / GDPR

For the past couple of months, I’ve been asked at least once a week whether we’re also going into legal counseling now, and whether lawyers and business compliance officers are our new target audience. After all, the GDPR is a regulation, and regulations are something that lawyers are interested in, right? (This is the short explanation I get after people notice my surprise at their question.)

Why should the GDPR be of interest especially to marketers and sales people?

As I understand it, the key purpose of the GDPR is to provide some sort of uniform consumer protection across the EU. Accordingly, I see it as a form of protection for customers and prospects when approached by sales and marketing tactics. And to be honest, consumers have needed this protection ever since the game moved into the digital environment. The methods that marketers have managed to develop have made people feel indifferent toward their (digital) privacy, and clever companies have built their business approaches primarily on the digital footprints that consumers leave behind (mostly unaware). I’d say we already sold our (at least digital) privacy long ago. We exchanged it for discounts, the chance to participate in prize draws, or merely out of convenience by clicking the Agree buttons to close those annoying pop-up windows.

We’ve already sold our privacy anyway out of convenience and the desire to get discounts. Click To Tweet

In a way, the GDPR will create some order in this area. Over time, the most likely result will more or less be that data-driven marketing will remain primarily a game for the big guys. Or at least a much more expensive game than it has been so far. For businesses, the GDPR will largely turn into more of a technological challenge than a legal one. This is the key reason I’ve been giving so much attention to this area for the past few months and encouraging my companies to invest in developing solutions in this area. Compliance with the GDPR will demand a transformation of practically all processes connected with capturing and processing personal data. Like it or not, these new processes will also require lots of new IT solutions that will fill in the gaps of current marketing automation and CRM systems, online stores, user portals, advertising platforms, and so on.

Where should businesses look for opportunities within the GDPR context?

Marketing and sales personnel should think about the following three things in connection with the GDPR:

1. How are they going to allow their customers and prospects to inspect (on demand) the personal data they have captured and processed while doing business with them? Here it’s important to note that the GDPR expands the concept of personal data significantly compared to the definition currently provided by the Slovenian Personal Data Protection Act (ZVOP).

2. How are they going to allow their customers to exercise their right to be forgotten?

3. How are they going to allow their customers (again, on demand) to export their personal data in a readable format?

New business models that will be introduced by the fastest

It is here that the GDPR will provide new business opportunities for companies. The thing that heads of marketing or sales should focus on today is finding methods and strategies for importing personal data and creating a competitive product or service ranges based on that information. A good example would be a telecommunication service provider that offers a personalized product range to its potential customers tailored to the individual’s needs (the personal data as defined by the GDPR also include information on an individual’s activities; in this case, these would comprise the mobile data usage, frequently-used telephone numbers, the number of text messages sent per month, and so on). Potential customers could disclose all of this information to the provider by importing the relevant personal data that were acquired by their previous provider.

The GDPR should be of primary interest to marketers and salespersons as it will affect their work the most. Click To Tweet

Data as currency

Here’s some more food for thought: it’s very likely that a type of an online broker will appear in the future that will provide competitive offers for a specific service to individuals based on their personal data. I believe people will be willing to share their personal data without reservation in exchange for the relevant information on the best deals.

Aside from its restrictions, the GDPR will also provide marketers and salespersons with new opportunities that only the fastest and most ingenious among them will be able to monetize. But how the regulation will affect the activities of media buyers and advertising campaign organizers is an entirely different matter.


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