Ask any marketer about the biggest events of 2018 so far and you’re not likely to hear about the results of an election, the passing of an iconic celebrity, or even the outcome of The World Cup. For marketers, the year’s defining moment arrived on May 25th when the European Union officially rolled out The General Data Protection Regulation commonly known as GDPR. The regulation is designed to protect consumer privacy and give individuals more control of their online footprint.
GDPR places new limitations on how customer data can be gathered, stored, and used and expands the definition of what types of data are considered private. For marketers, it means rethinking how they build and maintain customer databases as consumers must now give explicit consent to have their data collected and to be contacted, tracked, or targeted based on that data. But there is a silver lining. Because GDPR raises the bar on consumer consent, it gives marketers a chance to rethink how they build trust.
Compliance is key
The toughest thing for many marketers and advertisers to admit is that GDPR doesn’t come out of nowhere. Many consumers are concerned about how their data is being collected and used. Those concerns are reasonable, especially after a year of major data breaches. In a post-Equifax, post-Cambridge Analytica world it’s not hard to imagine why consumers might be feeling a little anxious about how their data is being handled. That’s why the first step to building consumer trust is complying fully with the new regulations.
Making sure that your campaigns and your data collection process are fully compliant with the new regulations doesn’t just protect your business from fines and penalties–although that’s critical given the wide enforcement powers provided under the new regulation– it also shows consumers that you take their privacy seriously. The conversation you hold around these steps can be key to building trust.
Also Read: How Brands and Agencies are Affected by GDPR
Communication is critical
GDPR provides an opportunity to have a more honest dialogue with consumers about the ways in which you’re acting in accordance with their wishes, and what you have to offer in exchange for their data and consent. By creating the climate for this level of transparency, the dawn of GDPR offers a chance to establish a foundation of trust on which savvy marketers can build a more honest, and mutually beneficial relationship.
With GDPR now in full effect marketers can’t rely on volume plays to get their message out. The hard truth is that email databases have been slashed by double-opt-in requirements and the ability to track and target consumers has been greatly curtailed. The good news is that most of the people who didn’t opt-in, weren’t listening to us anyway. Now we can stop yelling into the void and start having real conversations with consumers that we know are interested, and listening.
Also Read: GDPR: Developing a Proportionate Response
Content is king
Now that GDPR has narrowed down our audience, we have an opportunity to build trust by providing value. While we may be reaching fewer people, we also know who those people are and what they want to know. Serving that audience with content that they’ll value provides an opportunity to build trust through thought leadership, through expertise, and through a demonstrated understanding of the consumer’s needs.
Instead of bombarding prospects with our message, we have a chance to entertain them, or teach them, or even inspire them with a new perspective. Providing useful content shows consumers that we’re willing to exchange something of value for their data. Showing them that their time, attention, data, and consent are all valued will be critical to re-establishing the trust that’s going to be essential in a post-GDPR world.
Challenges create opportunity
There’s no doubt that GDPR presents a challenge for marketers. It’s raised the bar on what we’ll have to do to earn the attention of consumers in the E.U. However, the new regulations also provide a rare opportunity to completely rethink the way we operate and restructure our organizations around building trust and providing value rather than simply around reaching the largest number with the loudest message. This realignment has been difficult in some cases, but it also sets us up for a future in which consumer trust rather than consumer data is the coin of the realm