- GDPR is not just a suggestion but a salient and legal change in how EU data may be collected and maintained
- There are five critical functions and processes to audit and potentially amend
- Claims against companies for GDPR violations will be enacted starting on May 25, 2018
With the current season of the hit TV show “Game of Thrones” now underway, excitement about what's happening next in the seven kingdoms is reaching fever pitch. Billboards, magazines and fan blogs are telling us that “Winter is Here” for all the characters of Westeros and Essos that I have grown to love and loathe – for those of you unfamiliar, this means that the story is heading for its dramatic climax.
I can't help but draw parallels between the impending clashes on the show and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance deadline on May 25, 2018. In both the worlds, there is a clear sense of uncertainty about the future, with a danger of the unknown in the air. Marketing must be prepared for the harsh financial consequences for non-compliance. And there is little we can do except get our houses in order as – like the undead Night King beyond the wall – the data protection authorities will spare no one. Even organizations outside the EU will not escape hefty fines if they are marketing to EU residents.
Marketers need to prepare for a new challenge and, while GDPR is not the enemy, we must acknowledge that it changes the game. To be ready, we need take stock of our marketing automation platform (MAP) armory and adapt to a transforming landscape. We need to audit how we do things to ensure we are not tripped up by regulation.
Here are five important – but often unexpected – danger areas:
- MAP "data management campaigns.” Although marketing automation has encouraged systematic data embellishment and “use your data to create new data,” companies must now ensure all such activity is declared. Data from the past will need to be audited, and marketers are responsible for future updates and the outputs of any new or existing automated procedures.
- Reverse IP tracking. As marketing automation has found its pivotal and permanent place in the hearts of our businesses, reverse IP tracking has become part and parcel of everyday prospecting. Before GDPR, this was somewhat of a gray area – but now it's crystal clear. Marketers must seek consent before storing and processing an individual’s IP address.
- Lead scoring. Scoring programs provide marketers with ready-made segmentation and an engine to automatically send leads to sales. In GDPR terms, this type of processing constitutes profiling, and marketers must have consent to do it. Across the aisle in sales, propensity-to-buy calculations may also be hard at work in a sales force automation system. If this is used to profile for followup then, once again, permission must be granted.
- Reactivation programs. Marketers regularly seek to jump-start old databases by running reactivation programs for individuals inactive for months or even years. Unfortunately, under GDPR, individuals who have not opted in recently to communications cannot be contacted in this way.
- Record disposal. Finally, something outside of all marketers' comfort zone. If you do not have consent to store and process an individual's data, you must delete what you have. This applies to records accumulated over time but lacking opt-in, as well as to individuals who withdraw consent.
As GDPR compliance sees our long-held mailing lists reduced, we may be tempted to fall into a pit of despair. Our marketing reach may start to pale in comparison to “the good times,” and we will need to defend our efforts in new ways. It’s time for teams to turn to marketing excellence and invent new and creative ways to engage our audience. As communication volumes decrease, the relevance of our marketing will need to increase in a very big way. Automated preference management will become of paramount importance. Our results must become more powerful, and multi-channel engagement will need to ring true to our brand personality and values. In the engagement economy, our creative marketing and inbound skills will be in even more demand.
Winter may be coming, but the rise of more relevant, disruptive and personalized marketing paves the way for the early shoots of spring.