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How GDPR Will Transform Digital Marketing

By Andrella FehmiAndrella Fehmi (Guest)
Banner with stars circling on the tagline 'GDPR'

19 Ways GDPR Affects Your Digital Marketing Efforts

The term GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation caused a big havoc in the global online markets. The strict GDPR norms brought a sense of uniformity into the ways in which organizations work on the Internet as it increased the control of data at the user end. With GDPR now in place, Internet users have complete rights to their data and how these are being used by an organization.

A fair amount of deadline was given to the organizations across the globe to comply with these norms. Still, according to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, only 15% of the surveyed organizations could fully comply with these latest norms. (Source) The marketing and sales departments of all organizations saw major reforms in a small period.

Here are 19 ways in which GDPR affected the digital marketing efforts of organizations across the globe.

  1. Restricted Access to Personal User Data

Before GDPR, companies had the freedom to use its customers’ data as they pleased. They could easily use them to run massive email campaigns and bug the customers with constant unwanted emails. Most customers did not have the right or access to opt out of these massive email campaigns too. Therefore, companies leveraged their freedom to force products/services down the customers’ throats.

The GDPR norms restrict the use of customers’ data, hence each customer now has the full right and easy access to opt out of the marketing campaigns.

  1. Need for Customers’ Approval Before Gathering Data

With the GDPR norms, marketers need the right permissions to gather the customers’ data from the website. They cannot simply install a tracking script or forcefully shove cookies down the browser windows. Instead, they need to showcase a fair warning on their websites to do this.

The people who are concerned with the safety of their Internet browsing sessions will most likely opt out of this service and not download any cookies from the website. Instead, they will check another source on the Internet for the relevant information.

These practices make digital marketing tougher even for the experts.

  1. Change in Marketing Tools

Before GDPR, you could easily launch a mass email marketing campaign with millions of people on the mailing list. You could easily purchase the contact lists from third-party vendors and launch these campaigns on a global scale. With GDPR sharing the customers’ data is very tough. You need to treat all data with confidentiality and take the permission of the customers before sharing it with anyone outside your organization. Selling data to third-party organizations may impose a heavy fine and a loss of license in some cases.

Infographic banner with the logos of third-party digital selling organizations

  1. Change in Website Tracking Tools

The website tracking tools have grown more and more powerful in the past couple of years. Today, they are so advanced that they can track each and every click that you make and even where your mouse pointer hovers on the screen. The digital marketers leveraged this data to make sense of the likes and dislikes of potential customers. However, now they won’t be able to use such tracking tools without getting a permission from the prospect first.

Most prospects will still give the permission to marketers so that they can access the information freely. However, the people who are concerned about their online identity will not give this permission easily.

  1. Increased Use of Organic Marketing

The need and use of organic marketing have increased significantly over the past couple of months due to GDPR. Now, affiliate marketing is not as effective as it used to be just because Google has revised its norms in accordance with GDPR. Google’s algorithm has gotten smarter over the years and it can recognize the high-levels of keyword-stuffing in a content. Today, Google will rank blogs/websites filled with content that has nuggets of information and how-to articles much higher than the ones that have high levels of promotional content.

  1. Revised Remarketing Techniques

The remarketing techniques will not work as effectively as they used to with GDPR in place. With GDPR the customers can make informed decisions about the data that they share with a website now. They can choose to share data that they think will keep their online identity safe. In case the customer detects a risky scenario, he/she can easily refuse to share personal data or store cookies on the browser. Under such circumstances, the website too might refuse to share the information with the prospect. However, the website owners rarely do so, because they know that they might lose some really good prospects with such practices.

Flowchart of revised marketing strategy

  1. Regular Information Notices

Now, every website needs to send the prospects an email with every minor data storage policy update. The website owners need to tread very carefully around the rights of individual users and make sure that they complete the due diligence from their end. Every customer now has an equal right to sue a website owner for unethical use of personal data. To avoid thousands of lawsuits on a daily basis, GDPR advises website owners to share relevant update info with the customers regularly.

The website also needs to inform potential customers that it is storing cookies on their browsers and accessing their data to personalize the whole browsing experience.

  1. Increased Transparency in Use of Prospects’ Data

GDPR has successfully increased the transparency with which the websites interact with their audience. A website should have the necessary support and user guideline documents in place that is accessible by the audience. The website owners and digital marketers should make sure that every move that they make should come into the spotlight for the customer to see. If the customer is not okay with an update, the website is forced to either lose the customer data or update its policies accordingly.

  1. Data Storage Limitation

Before GDPR, the digital marketers could get the customers’ data once and store it in their servers forever. However, now those data has an expiry date just like fruits and vegetables. To store the data for an extended period, the customer should either interact with their content/website on a regular basis or give his/her consent for the storage.

In the case of an external audit, the digital marketers should be able to produce all the necessary consent forms from its audience. These marketers may face heavy fines in case of inconsistencies with the data.

  1. Revised Data Capture Forms

Data capture forms were extremely vague and shady before GDPR came into the picture. Digital marketers could easily fetch information for potential customers by luring them in through a shady scheme. With the GDPR norms, operations like these have come to a complete stop.

Form for revise data capture input sample

Now digital marketers need to create extremely simple and organic data capture forms for every prospect. They need to present all the necessary information of what the website will do with the data that it is gathering. This way, the website owners will no longer be able to misuse the data of their prospects/customers anymore.

  1. Use of Advanced CRM Technologies

Both the CRM as well as marketing automation technologies have seen major upgrades in the past few months. With the stringent GDPR norms in place, the end-customers will have complete access to all the personal information that the company has for him/her. Now, the customer also has the right to manually delete or ask the companies to delete the personal information forever without any strings attached. The companies need to adhere to such instructions from the customers without any boundaries. They cannot whip up a new rule to retain the data in case the customer has personally asked them to delete it forever.

  1. Appointment of a Dedicated Data Protection Officer

The data protection officer holds a very important position in the organizations that are still adapting to the latest GDPR norms. These officers work in close conjunction with the digital marketing professionals to help them identify the right/wrong practices in accordance with the GDPR policies. The officers closely monitor the activities of these digital marketers and intervene in case they detect any kind of foul play.

A man in a business suit holding a glowing icon padlock

  1. Installation of a ‘Forget Me’ Button

Every campaign and email that digital marketers now run needs to have a dedicated ‘Forget Me’ or ‘Opt Out’ button on it. The process through which a user gets complete access to his/her data should not exceed a single click anymore. The digital marketers might still ask the customers to fill a review form after this. However, it is completely the customer’s decision to fill or not fill any such form.

The simple process set up by GDPR makes the process of customer retention extremely tough for the digital marketers. Now, the marketers have no option but to produce an extremely high-quality content that provides true value to the customers to retain them for a long period.

  1. Upgraded Email Marketing Policies

Launching an email marketing campaign with a million different recipients was simple before GDPR came into effect. After the implementation of the norms, email marketing aka, one-to-one marketing is completely redefined. Unless your content provides true value to the consumer, you cannot launch blast email campaigns. Your email should have a specific format that includes the ‘Forget Me’ button so that customers can easily opt out of receiving emails if they want to.

  1. Revised Personalization Techniques

Personalization has a whole new meaning after GDPR. Using mail merge fields to replace certain characteristics of the email such as the name, age, country of the target audience was enough personalization before GDPR. However, now these emails are considered generic. In fact, most marketers agree that personalization techniques of the past do not produce the necessary click to conversion results. Instead, only truly personalized emails that highlight the pain point or an achievement specific to the company/individual can fetch you the desired results.

  1. Impact on UX for Audience

The change in the overall interface of the email as well as website is already evident on several websites across the globe. Now, marketers need to fulfil an entire list of items for their UX design so that the data protection officer approves it. The websites that do not comply with the GDPR norms can face strict actions and heavy penalties.

The marketers need to install clear and well-defined guidelines on how a particular website harnesses the user data for tracking and personalization. They should also give fair warnings to all the audience that visit their websites.

  1. Use of Location-Based Data

Tracking personal user data such as names and clicks is still a minor deal compared to tracking the location of the person. A website cannot simply start tracking your location to start the remarketing campaign. Instead, the marketers need to ask the audience if they want their location accessed or not. Most websites nowadays feature a small pop-up that will give the audience a control on how their location is accessed. The prospects can now simply choose the ‘Refuse’ option to prevent websites from tracking their location.

A map with different color push pins pinned on it

  1. Increased Complexity for Automation Tools

To accommodate the various GDPR norms, the marketing automation tools have seen an increased amount of complexity both in terms of overall use as well as the number of features. Several tools have inbuilt features that will allow the marketers to include all precautionary measures such as the ‘Forget Me’ button automatically into all emails.

  1. Data Migration and Loss

GDPR clearly states that the marketers need to simplify the overall process of unsubscribing for the users. They cannot hold the data of any user hostage by including complicated and long steps for the un-subscription process. The marketers also need to be extra careful while migrating data from one source to another so that there is no potential leakage or loss.

The GDPR norms are applicable to all organizations handling the data of one or more European Union citizens. So, even if you do not have an office in the EU, you need to comply with the latest GDPR norms to conduct business in this territory.

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