Close this search box.


This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

With the new regulation coming into the force today, many businesses are still looking at the challenge of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and what it means for them. From a digital marketing perspective, what are the new rules for obtaining and storing data? Also, how is it going to affect marketers?

It’s not just about names, addresses, dates of birth anymore. The definition of personal data will go beyond those to include new digital identifiers such as email addresses, social media channels and cookies. GDPR is all about consumer protection and the corporate use of people’s information. The power goes back to consumers because they will own their personal information and the right to have it changed – or even deleted.

In the new GDPR world, personal data has to be consented and then stored safely, and only for as long as it needs to be. All information should be accurate and accessible. If an individual asks a business what information they have on them, that business needs to comply.

The holy trinity

Understanding the three core elements of the legislation should be the key focus for brands. These are the rights, access and consent of consumer data. Consumers have the right to know how their information is being processed and how it will be stored. If there is a data breach, individuals have the right to complain and even seek judicial remedies. It is especially crucial that individuals’ rights are protected to avoid any costly penalties, reputation damage and further unsubscribes from other consumers.

The post GDPR world allows consumers to access data handled by brands whenever they request to do so. By now, brands must be in a position to provide any customer with a copy of any personal data being processed. However, by re-organising the way personal information is stored and used, businesses are putting themselves in a better place to deliver best practice and valuable marketing campaigns at the same time.

Finally, the third and probably the biggest concern is asking for reconsent – which is to request to keep and use personal data. Brands have taken a long time to build databases that they don’t want to lose. However, it has to be done as it poses a meaningful risk to brand reputation and revenue. GDPR is all about the protection of personal data and businesses need to take this seriously. By flipping it on its head, brands can use this opportunity to get closer to their customers and gain a competitive edge by showing that they are trustworthy and deserve their business.

If you don’t need it, get rid of it

Once those core focus areas have been digested and accommodated within marketing strategies and data management, marketers must take an active approach to clean their databases. In the brave new GDPR world, holding and handling data of disengaged consumers should be discouraged.

The big question is where do you start? As of now, your data is decreasing in value every day to the point where it will actually become a business risk – a liability of up to 4% of your global turnover. If a marketer cannot prove that informed consent to store and act on personal data has been freely given, it’s time to clean and recommission databases. That time is now.

The GDPR regulations are not something that could have been predicted, so this action needs to a priority. If you start the clean and recommissioning process now, you will be able to build back value quickly, as well as gaining an all-important competitive advantage over other brands.

Essentially, you will be able to focus your energy, time and efforts on more engaged and valuable individuals, but also ensure that your databases are working to optimum impact. This will generate greater ROI that ultimately meets your digital marketing objectives.

Bring your good customers closer

Brands must see the brighter side to spring cleaning data as it’s mutually beneficial to them and the consumer. Personalisation is becoming second nature to marketing strategies, and countless amounts of time and money are being put into creating bespoke and tailored messaging. However, too often this is being disregarded or ignored by customers who are uninterested in your products and services.

By retaining only consented data, you will be able to connect with those who want to hear from you, and consumers will appreciate the relevance in the marketing messages they receive from you. It’s an ideal situation – invest in consumers that are valuable to you and build greater brand trust. This is an opportunity to get true ROI on your marketing spend.

Digital marketing – the way it should be

The GDPR is an opportunity for marketers to take a pause, reflect and find the new innovative way of engaging their customers. An individual’s data will be owned and controlled by that consumer. The importance of a single customer view within your marketing world has never been more urgent. Use their data to better and greater effect. Find ways to gain the maximum value from anonymised audience data, produce advance segments and activate these within marketing programmes.

Businesses that take the time to establish this will reap huge rewards from a higher quality of marketing and a greater ROI. This should provide marketers with an added incentive – if mitigating the risk and liability was not enough. Take GDPR as an opportunity to connect with your customer during a re-permissioning process and beyond.

Sarah Taylor is chief marketing officer at SmartFocus

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on