How GDPR Might Be the Best Thing to Happen to Your Business
1 June 2018
GDPR

Marketers have been talking about the GDPR for a while now. We’ve had many panic fuelled conversations about the negative effects it will have on our businesses. Talk of the benefits of GDPR was barely entertained, if at all.

We’ve struggled to see the brighter side: we imagined our databases dwindling to nothing; we pictured our budgets running out of control as we tackled compliance; we had visions of officials serving us with notices for accidental transgressions.

Yes, it’s been difficult. The stress has been immense. But are those fears warranted? Probably. At least to a degree…

…but there are two sides to every story, and there’s light to balance the dark. If all you’ve managed to see so far is gloom, don’t worry; there are positives to GDPR.

What Is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets out new laws concerning the handling of personal and sensitive-personal data held by organisations, e.g. businesses and local government.

These laws require companies that collect personal information on consumers in the EU to put in place special measures in how they use and protect the data so that consumers have greater control over their personal information (the UK government has similar legislation set up for post-Brexit).

The GDPR outlines a number of data protection measures. For example, the “Right to Be Forgotten” means that consumers can ask a business to delete any personal information it might hold about them; it also requires that businesses be proactive in this regard, by deleting certain types of information once they have completed the transaction for which they gathered that information.

The Benefits of GDPR for Business, Are There Any?

GDPR concerns consumer privacy standards. As such, many businesses worry about its impact on their bottom line: if consumers can remove themselves from databases, how will businesses reach out to their target market? How will they discover new markets if they can no longer purchase large databases?

For many marketers, it feels like a gun to the head, where the whims and wishes of fickle consumers can pull the trigger at any time.

These are knee-jerk reactions, or the reactions of a business that knows its success rests on practices that border on the immoral. When we dig a little deeper, we can see that the GDPR may actually be beneficial to business.

Loyalty and Retention of Valuable Customers

As requests arrive from consumers to have their personal information purged from the databases, what remains are consumers who wish to stay in touch. It reveals which customers are genuinely interested in the product.

Purging data seems antithetical to the premise of marketing, but it is an act of pruning: sorting the good from the bad. What remains is a database “cleansed” of consumers who are unlikely to buy anyway.

This will help give businesses a better understanding of their customers. Analysis of the data will be deeper and more accurate. It will enable businesses to delve into the characteristics and behaviours of their most valuable customers, revealing greater insights and driving better marketing strategies.

GDPR may leave you with a smaller database, but its quality will improve dramatically.

Marketing Campaigns That Are More Effective

The tighter definition of the ideal customer will help businesses create better marketing products. It enables them to tailor their marketing content more closely to the demographic, taking away blurb that is too generalised and replacing it with highly targeted and relevant content.

It enables businesses to speak more directly to their customers by better understanding their customers’ psychology, and using these insights to create carefully tailored marketing messages that pique the interests of their target market.

Substantial Cost Savings

Becoming compliant with the GDPR will cost businesses an estimated £300-£450 per employee. There are also severe financial penalties for those who fail to comply. Taken as a gross loss, that’s bad…

…but GDPR will also enable cost-savings, too. As the volume of data decreases, data storage costs will decrease. Businesses will no longer waste money retaining the personal data of people who won’t buy their products.

There’ll also be savings on the cost of producing marketing materials: with smaller mailing lists, businesses will produce lower volumes of marketing materials; postage costs will reduce dramatically too.

Lessening of Negative Feelings Towards a Brand

For most of us, the constant interruption from unsolicited emails and letters is an annoyance. When unwanted emails arrive in your inbox, or letters fall on your mat uninvited, how does it make you feel? Irritated, no doubt.

This negative feeling then passes to the business; “How dare they interrupt my day with this nonsense!”

If you’ve been guilty of sending unwanted emails, then at least some people will view your brand in an unfavourable light. Sending spam lessens trust in the brand. And yes, it can be spam even if you have a reliable/useful product; spam is simply unwanted emails and letters.

GDPR means that marketing efforts reach only those who want it. Those who don’t want it may currently harbour negative feelings towards the brand, but as the spam disappears, this negativity will lessen.

In the long term, lost customers may return to the brand. They’ll base their opinions on the genuine value they get from the business, rather than its annoying spam habit and its mishandling of personal data.

Instead of dismissing brands out of hand, next time they encounter the brand, they might be that little bit more open to listen.

Increased Feelings of Trust Towards a Brand

Finally, by respecting the rules of the GDPR, we will build trust between businesses and consumers.

A key rule introduced by GDPR is the simplification of privacy policies. According to research, it would take the average person 76-days to understand the average privacy policy (pre-GDPR). This means the vast majority of people have accepted privacy policies without understanding them, which has led to high levels of distrust as they see the way businesses have abused people’s personal data.

We’re wary of the ways businesses handle and process our data. We have no idea what rights we’ve signed away. In simplifying privacy policies, the GDPR will increase transparency between the business and its customers, and this will lead to greater trust.

Is the GDPR bad for business? When you appreciate the positives it brings, it doesn’t look so bad after all.

GDPR has the potential to be hugely beneficial for compliant businesses.

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