The echo of GDPR can now be heard echoing in all corners of the world. If you are a marketing professional then there's a good chance that you have heard about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). You might ask why and how the marketing department is impacted by this GDPR to be imposed by the EU in May. Good question. For starters, you will agree that of all the functions within an organization, marketing is the main door from where personal data enters your organization's data repository. As GDPR is related to recording, preserving, processing, and discarding individual's data, the marketing function is likely to be impacted by this new law.
Your organization might have been following due diligence when it comes to controlling and processing customer data, but in my opinion, GDPR is a good excuse to recreate the marketing function and make it more transparent and more efficient. While you are putting yourself in a life and death position by protecting the data of EU citizens, you are also getting an opportunity to build a highly targeted marketing database and super effective marketing processes.
Let me help you understand how GDPR can be a blessing to your marketing functionality.
Gather all customer contacts to enrich your marketing database
Go digging in places where data is scattered such that it has never made its way to your CRM database. It could be lying somewhere in the form of business cards collected during events, paid mailing lists that have gone directly into your SaaS mailing systems, or spreadsheets with your sales team. Now is the time to gather all those different pieces of customer information and pour them into your CRM database. By bringing these different pieces together, you will be able to create a better profile of your customer or prospect.
Know what's working for you
You can now go back to the CRM system and look for a specific pattern(s) in sales/closure data, type of customer segments you are closing more than others, marketing channels fetching you higher ROI etc. If you have not defined your marketing persona(s) then this information should help you define few of them for you. You can simply ignore the segments that are not producing any results for you. By focusing on your important persona(s), you will be able to connect meaningfully with your prospects and create value by offering customized products, solutions or services.
Build or deploy customer-centric systems
In this stage, you have to list all customer touch points by identifying all marketing systems that are collecting profile or behavioral or any other form of customer data at these touch points. Prepare a list of activities you are carrying out under these marketing systems for recording, preserving, processing, and discarding customer data.
Ensure that at every touch point where you are collecting customer data, you are mentioning what data will be used for which purpose and until when and how you are going to preserve the data. GDPR has widened the scope of 'consent' for permission-based marketing. Make sure that you are storing these 'consent' records properly so that you can easily reproduce it to authorities if asked.
You will also need to have a provision in all your communications where customers can unsubscribe if they wish to no longer receive communication from your company.
Prepare your content marketing strategy from the ground up
You have an enriched customer database and redefined persona(s). Additionally, you know what marketing channels work for you. You will be able to create focused content around these persona(s). As you have to obey the 'consent' rules with easy provision for unsubscribing, you will be forced to create engaging content for your customers to consume. So make enough provision for research, widen your marketing budget pie, and involve everybody who can bring in valuable suggestions to win prospects and convert customers into advocates.
This four-stage approach should completely overhaul your marketing function and make it more effective. Rather than considering GDPR a burden, look at it as an opportunity to reinvent your marketing processes and re-energize your customer acquisition strategy.