GDPR aims to give the control of personal data back to the citizens. But what does this mean for marketers?| Source: Shutterstock

Is your marketing team GDPR-ready?

THERE has been a lot of talks recently regarding the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to be enforced this May 25.

As such, many businesses are frantically undergoing preparations to ensure their business practices will conform to these new data laws.

Though the implementation is only just around the corner, there are plenty of businesses who still don’t really understand the implications of the new regulations on marketing practices.

This article will outline what GDPR is and steps for marketers to prepare for it.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR is a regulation put forth by the European Union Parliment which is focused on data protection for individuals in the EU. The new law is an update to a 1995 Data Protection Directive and includes stricter requirements in the handling of personal data and data subjects rights. Though it is focused on the data protection of EU citizens, GDPR has become a major focus for businesses all around the globe as it applies to any global business that deals with the data of EU citizens.

GDPR aims to give the control of personal data back to the citizens. This means that companies handling customer data will need to alter the way they capture and store this personal information. Businesses must ensure they have robust encryption, security, and data availability procedures in place in order to comply with the legislation. Those businesses who fail to comply with the new rules could be subject to fines.

How does GDPR affect marketers?

Marketers are among the largest consumers and users of customer data, using it to make targeted offers, personalized experiences, and localized marketing.

So understandably, the GDPR regulations have some marketing professionals quaking in their boots at the thought of having to be careful when complying with these rules.

Many marketers are used to the ability to leverage large amounts of personal data to do everything- from creating a personalized email, to customizing the landing page a customer sees when they visit a website.

But now, marketers are going to have to re-think their strategies, as GDPR makes it clear that consent is crucial. Customers must give businesses their explicit permission in order for them to use their information when marketing. A customer’s data can only be used for the exact purpose stated when “opting” in.

But how are you able to carry out personalized marketing efforts with this GDPR-shaped hurdle in the way? Will your sales suffer?

Fear not- though this legislation can feel daunting to many marketers, it does come with its benefits. The new legislation will give marketers the chance to explore new ways to use technology, data, and creativity to reach potential customers effectively. So how can you prepare? Consider the following steps:

1. Consider a consent review

Businesses must look at the ways in which they currently manage consent both in general and specifically in relation to direct marketing campaigns. They must ensure that they have adequate consent for any personal data they store, detailing the type of communication they have received opt-in for. It is vital that organizations keep a clear record of consent information.

In line with GDPR, businesses must ensure they have consent for all personal data they see | Source: Shuttershock

2.Managing opt-outs

In line with the GDPR, it is important to consider how opt-outs are managed across the organization.

Your business should be offering users the opportunity to opt-out in every marketing message you send their way.

Thus, businesses must assess whether they have the technical means to process an opt-out across all systems which store personal data- without any delay.

3. Review affiliates and external partners

It is important to understand that GDPR still applies to affiliate marketing.

Transparency and consent are key, and as such, a consumer should not be receiving any direct marketing from any third-party organizations without first getting their consent.

Businesses must ask themselves whether adequate due diligence processes are in place prior to engaging with marketing affiliates- if not you may want to reconsider your collaboration with them.

As well as this, their contracts with marketing affiliates and third-parties must be updated to comply with the requirements of GDPR.

4. Training and awareness

In order to ensure full compliance with GDPR, key risk training and awareness should be given to each and every member of an organization’s marketing team.

Doing so will mitigate any risk of nonconformity to the new regulations and will ensure compliant direct marketing practices are embedded into business operations.

Ensuring your employees are aware of GDPR is a must | Source: Shutterstock

5. Clean up your database

Though it might hurt to do it, you should remove all data belonging to users that you haven’t engaged with over the last 24 months or that you haven’t received renewed consent from.

These clients are most unlikely to use your service anytime soon and probably not worth risking a fine over.