GDPR: Is This The Data Nirvana We’ve All Been Waiting For?

As we reach the end of 2017, the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) marches ever closer. Due to be implemented on 25th May next year, this legislation is widely considered to be the most drastic change in the data landscape of recent decades.

GDPR will impact organisations and businesses in various ways, across every bit of personal data processing. Within the marketing space specifically, GDPR will force marketers to adapt their practices (for the better). One of the reasons for its introduction is to give consumers the control over their data that they deserve. It will ultimately promote more transparent relationships between marketers and their customers.

One of the reasons for its introduction is to give consumers the control over their data that they deserve.

GDPR replaces the Data Protection Act, which was implemented in 1998, before many of today’s digital marketing channels existed. It will hand control of personal data back to the consumer. With fines for breaching the regulation of up to €20 million or four per cent of annual turnover, marketers need to take this seriously.

The data value exchange

The legislation will change marketing communications as it becomes more challenging to gain permissioned data. Consumers and brands have been benefiting from data sharing for years, to the point where people often take many of the benefits for granted. Should individuals decline to share their information, they could be more likely to receive less perks from loyalty schemes to tailored offers, initiatives that most of us would miss.

It is therefore important that brands demonstrate the value of data sharing, providing relevant and tailored communications. If brands can prove the benefits of data sharing, their customers will be much more likely to welcome correspondence.

With the question of consent posing one challenge for marketers, there is also, separately, the need to keep data up-to-date and accurate. Marketers will need to ensure that they do what they can to make sure their files are up-to-date. This will involve using first class data cleaning products which are now very easily accessible and available as a Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution.  These specific tool sets are designed to help companies get ready for GDPR.

It is crucial that businesses treat data responsibly, storing it safely and using it appropriately. With a series of high profile data breaches dominating the headlines in recent months, consumers are understandably cautious to only share their data with organisations they trust. The reputational damage resulting from a data breach can be equally as costly as fines and compensation. Therefore, information security should be high on the agenda for brands.

Re-evaluating the importance of data

The value of data is increasing, and it is time to alter the way we view it. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one. There’s clearly more value in keeping your data up-to-date to better communicate with existing customers. Just one of the effects of GDPR is that it will help act as an impetus for this focus on retention.

The value of data is increasing, and it is time to alter the way we view it. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.

As a literal interpretation of the value of data, street artist Ben Eine recently launched the Data Dollars Store, a pop-up shop which questioned the way we think about data sharing. Instead of paying for merchandise with money, shoppers were instead asked to hand over their mobile phones and share their data. The more they shared, the more they could buy. The stunt may have been designed to make people think twice about sharing data, something both consumers and brands have knowingly benefitted from for years, but it also illustrates the idea of data as a currency, something which may be explored further by brands in the run-up to GDPR.

The year ahead

The process of preparing for GDPR cannot be completed over night, and will no doubt prove challenging for marketers. But it is important to remember that the legislation will ultimately benefit both consumers and brands. While it may result in fewer names on the marketing database, those who choose to share their data will be open and receptive; far more valuable to businesses. Building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with those remaining customers will pave the way for a successful future.

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