GDPR is going to change the face of digital marketing — that much is certain. But how marketers perceive that change may ultimately decide whether it's impact will be positive or a negative. 

GDPR Compliance: A Threat, Or An Opportunity?

In a recent CMSWire interview, Dan Mashiter said that marketers can look at GDPR in one of two ways: “as a threat, or as an opportunity”. Needless to say, most marketers — and frankly, most commentators — have already painted GDPR as a threat from multiple angles. The scaremongering has been real. But here we are going to focus on what will be positive and explore the seven exciting opportunities that GDPR brings to the marketing scene.

1. GDPR Will Give Brands A Brief Moment To Stand Out

Data Management & Analytics Technical Manager Óscar Alonso from Madrid-based consulting firm Everis told the audience at the Liferay Digital Solutions Forum 2017 that, “GDPR is an opportunity [for brands] to stand out [from their competitors].” What Alonso was getting at, was that, sure, all brands are vying to become GDPR compliant by May 2018 — but only a select few will be confident enough in their compliance to shout about it early on. Until GDPR compliance becomes the norm, brands that do possess that confidence to boast about their compliance will stand out from their competitors.

2. GDPR Will Lead To Personalized, Human Engagements

Despite the rise in personalization, many contemporary marketers still base their strategies upon grossly impersonal practices like unsolicited email newsletters.

According to Joe Hyland, CMO at ON24, the GDPR regulations are a positive correction from an over-dependence on impersonal, automated marketing to more personalized human engagement. “All marketers, inside or outside the EU, should be asking themselves if their MarTech stack includes technologies that enable real human interaction to scale and capture behavioral data from those interactions. We must know our prospects as more than names in a database, and GDPR gives us all the push we need to see success with an engagement-first mindset,” Hyland insisted.

3. GDPR Will Enhance Data Management Technology

Many brands have been meaning to properly organize their customer data for years and according to John Nash, chief marketing and strategy officer at Wellesley Hills, MA.-based RedPoint Global, GDPR is going to be the catalyst for that positive change. “Although GDPR is the root cause for many headaches, marketers in particular have reason to celebrate as it will help enhance the technology that manages customer data and internal capabilities for that data,” Nash said.

He went on to explain that consumers who opt-in and provide their specific details want to actively engage with brands, and, “thanks to GDPR, brands can rest assured that they are targeting consumers via channels they prefer using data that is 100% accurate.”

4. GDPR Will Encourage Creativity

Nash also touched on how GDPR will encourage marketers to think (and act) outside of the box: “Since personal information will be more difficult to acquire, marketers will need to be more creative in ways they incentivize consumers to provide the details. Coupons and giveaways will no longer be good enough,” Nash explained.

Leah Pope, CMO of NYC-based Datorama, concurs, “[GDPR will increase] creativity in marketing. It will make marketers bring their “A” game in order to engage consumers in a more compelling fashion. In addition, marketing teams will have to get more creative in the data sources and types of data they leverage in their efforts,” Pope told CMSWire.

5. GDPR Will Lead To More Relevant Email Correspondence

Being GDPR compliant will mean that the only people on your email list will be those who genuinely want to be there, and as far as EJ McGowan, General Manager at Hollywood, Calif.-based Campaigner, is concerned, that’s going to lead to better email correspondence in general. “For marketers across the globe, GDPR will ultimately prove beneficial by improving positive and relevant email correspondence with customers. Because GDPR requires subscribers to explicitly state that they agree to receive communications from marketers.” said McGowan.

Learning Opportunities

“By focusing only on customers who wish to engage with their company, marketers will naturally foster greater brand loyalty with existing subscribers who currently interact with email campaigns, rather than using marketing efforts to reach an uninterested audience,” he continued. If marketers operate within the terms of the GDPR, McGowan insists that marketers will ultimately, “benefit by boosting click-through rates and increasing campaign success, improving the relevance of brand messaging, and fostering stronger brand awareness with consumers”.

6. GDPR Will Increase Trust

Another insight gleaned from the Liferay Digital Solutions Forum 2017 was from Diamond Bar, Calif.-based Liferay Inc. Product Manager Dennis Ju, who spoke exclusively to CMSWire on the sidelines of the London event. “GDPR is really about privacy, and privacy is becoming greater and greater concern [for the public] as big data, machine learning and AI take the digital realm by force. Whether you like it or not, it’s coming,” Ju said.

One example he shared is where certain companies and social networks are leveraging personal data for their own advantage. Ju insisted that it doesn’t matter if those rumors [about those specific companies] are true, “because it’s already out there and the public’s distrust [in big brands] is growing.” But for Ju, GDPR holds the solution for that growing disconnect.

“What GDPR does, is [it gives marketers the opportunity to say], ‘We care about you as a person, your data and your privacy’. And that can go a long way to build trust. Ultimately, that sort of trust and loyalty that you can gain from customers will go a long distance,” Ju said.

7. GDPR Could Increase Marketing ROI

Last but not least (yet perhaps most ambitiously) becoming GDPR compliant could increase the ROI of marketing activity. John Nash once again chimed in to explain how that might happen. According to him, GDPR means that “brands will no longer waste portions of budgets by targeting consumers who are not interested. Instead, engagements will be more personalized due to the level of detail in the information provided.”

Leah Pope agreed with Nash in the sense that GDPR will force companies to streamline their data, weeding out freezing cold leads in the process, leaving only the hottest leads behind: “GDPR will force marketers to focus on more accurate and unambiguous data for their marketing programs. Today, a lot of marketing organizations are holding onto and using data simply for data’s sake. By trimming this excess, more meaningful and accurate data rises to the surface that can be put to use,” she said.

The Future of Marketing Is Tight, But Bright

Marketing is about to become a far more restricted profession, there’s no denying that. But that doesn’t necessarily dim the future of marketing. In fact, if you reflect on the seven opportunities above, you could argue that GDPR is the best thing to happen to marketing in a long, long while.