Technology November 5, 2018
The smart approach to GDPR – why the data game is like the dating game

By Daniel Male - Accountable Care Journal

Last year, a headline in Campaign (the marketing sector’s house magazine) proclaimed: “GDPR will render 75 per cent of UK marketing data obsolete”. The accompanying story stated that only 25 per cent of the data held in marketing databases across the country met GDPR consent requirements, making the majority unusable, writes J Cromack, Chief Technology Officer at Consentric.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) dictates how personal data can be collected, stored and used by companies and other organisations and came into force in May this year. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to €20 million, or 4 per cent of global turnover (whichever is the greater), not to mention the cost of associated reputational damage.

So, in today’s GDPR environment, have marketing departments, hampered by regulation, ground to a halt? Research by marketing automation leader Marketo found that 72 per cent of organisations that had almost exclusively focused on how to use the new Regulation to build or improve customer engagement had exceeded departmental targets. In other words, using the regulations to rethink and reorganise had helped them get better at marketing.

72 per cent of consumers are so concerned about privacy they are unwilling to share their data.

Marketing is about building relationships and all good relationships are built on trust. The problem is that trust is in short supply - the same Marketo research found that 72 per cent of consumers were concerned about data privacy and were unwilling to share their data.

But trust is exactly what GDPR compliance can deliver. By forcing a tightening of personal data security and better management of consent or legitimate interest for marketing activity, GDPR is a great opportunity for companies and other organisations to rethink and recast their activities in order to build trust. Ultimately, GDPR promotes respect, clear communication and consistency.

GDPR puts power into the hands of consumers - in most instances, they get to decide how their personal data can be used. As a result, marketing departments have had to rethink the relationship.

What the smart ones have realised is that the data game is like the dating game. Rush in too fast and the target of your affection is likely to take flight. On the first date, you don’t ask about how much they earn and whether they believe in marriage. Just getting their phone number is a result. So marketers need to take it slowly and show respect, tact and discretion.

According to Boston Consulting Group, companies that excel at creating trust could increase the amount of consumer data they can access by at least five to ten times, with the resulting “torrent of newly-available data meaningfully shifting market share and accelerat[ing] innovation”.

Get it right and there’ll be a second data - maybe more.

In practice, this means asking for only what is needed to end the first encounter with them wanting more. Get it right and there’ll be a second date - maybe more. Over time, your customers will give up more information as trust grows. But this takes some preparation.

To get the tone right at each stage, organisations first need to assess just how much value can be achieved from each extra piece of personal data they ask for. A healthy pregnancy campaign run by a pharmacy will be made significantly more efficient if it knows the sex and age of its contacts. But delving deeper to ask marital status adds proportionally less value - it’s not critical information.

Equally, it’s important that consumers know how they are likely to benefit from divulging more personal data. So, for example, explain that if they share the date of their birthday they will receive a special 50 per cent discount for that week. Organisations that explain clearly why they want information and how it will enhance the service they can provide are showing a level of transparency that consumers react well to. Marketo found that 60 per cent of us were more likely to share information if we thought we would receive a more tailored/relevant service as a result.

Finally, trust comes from consistency - always being treated in the same respectful way. In effect, this demands a front-to-back digital marketing department.

By having an integrated digital platform, marketing departments can make sure that all the personal data they collect is stored and acted on according to the relevant permissions or consent obtained and that every touch point - from the consumer and from the business side - always has the relevant information, delivering transparency.

So, a retailer with high-street, online and call-centre presence has the permissions status via an connector with the CRM, customer data platform or single customer view (dependent on the route they have taken), available to all three channels in real-time. When a shopper buys in store and likes having their receipt emailed rather than printed, this information is readily available without having to ask. Equally importantly, if the online shopper has never purchased in store, and has agreed to marketing, they can be sent offers redeemable at their nearest branch.

Campaign’s headline might have been right about the state of the UK’s marketing databases last year, but its implication that digital marketing was doomed was wrong. GDPR will enhance the relationship between consumer and organisation, not undermine it. It’s just a matter of showing some respect.

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