The Hidden Silver Linings to GDPR Compliance

The GDPR is coming fast. The General Data Protection Regulation, which harmonizes data privacy laws across Europe, takes effect on May 25, 2018, bringing with it a heightened level of scrutiny to the rules of customer engagement for brands on both sides of the Atlantic.

But it’s important not to panic, according to Blane Sims, Signal’s chief innovation officer. “No one is going to flip a switch on May 25 that turns off existing marketing programs and completely changes all the tactics,” Sims said on the live webinar The GDPR Evolution: How Savvy Marketers Will Survive and Thrive, hosted by Signal on Feb. 27. “Marketers will still be sending emails, personalizing customer experiences and using behavioral ads to target the right customers. They will still be using data to measure marketing activities. And cookies and device IDs will still be critical from a technology standpoint to execute campaigns.”

So, while it is extremely important to understand how the GDPR clarifies the process of working with the personal data of EU residents, at the end of the day, the job of a marketer remains exactly the same. Actually, it may get even better. Sims outlined three unexpected silver linings to GDPR compliance:

#1: Better Marketing and Collaboration

GDPR compliance is a company-wide responsibility, not something that can just be farmed out to a brand’s legal and IT teams, Sims said. Given the nature of marketing and its use of customer data, marketers will be profoundly affected by this legislation, making them essential to successful compliance efforts.

While the first order of business for the compliance team will be hashing through the complexities of GDPR, think about what this collaboration could mean for a company beyond the May 25 deadline. In essence, this grouping of individuals that each play a role in the end-to-end customer experience becomes an ad hoc omnichannel marketing team with the creativity and expertise to strategize cohesive, privacy-forward customer journeys.

#2: Stronger Customer Relationships

The connections made across the broader marketing team, customer experience, legal and business stakeholders can boost efforts to build more tightly integrated messaging and measurement across channels. Using the customer journey map developed for GDPR compliance as a guide, companies can better understand consumers and the systems they use, informing more effective ways to leverage data to create connected experiences that strengthen customer relationships.

Key to this transformation will be identity resolution, Sims added. Only by recognizing customers as they move among channels and devices can brands maintain the contextual relevancy critical for delivering genuine 1:1 engagements.

#3: Smarter Marketing Partnerships

As companies bring partners in line with their GDPR compliance plan, they will also have the opportunity to forge a lasting dialogue about privacy that helps address the fundamental principles that drove the regulation in the first place. While contracts are the main topic of discussion today, companies should keep the lines of communication open to create true partnerships that build in privacy by design.

Companies and their marketing partners can learn a lot by discussing each other’s positions on key aspects of GDPR. They may discover topics that require continual monitoring, or a point-of-view that helps fill out a partner’s privacy roadmap. There are also some key industry efforts under way looking at how to create better, more consistent privacy choices, and some partners may be a good source of information on these initiatives.

GDPR is undeniably complex, and it’s going to take a while for best practices to emerge. There is no one approach to compliance, and every organization that is looking at GDPR has a lot of hard work to do. With just two months to go, Sims stressed it’s time to reach out and get involved in defining your company’s path forward.

“GDPR readiness efforts aren’t likely to end on May 25,” he said. “In fact, this is just the beginning.”

Looking for even more insight into the opportunities and obstacles the GDPR presents? View Signal’s complete 45-minute webinar here.


Originally published March 07, 2018

Kathy Menis

Kathy is an expert in technology marketing, with 20 years of experience creating and leading strategic, results-driven marketing programs. She was formerly the CMO at Signal.

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