In this article, Sam Roberts, Marketing Executive at Me Learning, gives an insight on the impact of GDPR on marketing professionals and why the regulation should be embraced, rather than dreaded.

“Marketing, at its core, is communication. Whether your organisation is a high-end car manufacturer, a construction wholesaler or a digital agency, this communication is vital to ensuring leads become prospects, prospects become customers, and customers become brand-loyal customers.

The way marketers like myself communicate with an audience has rapidly changed over the last 20 years. Now, more than ever, Marketers are using multi-channel campaigns to hit their audience across different platforms with different messages and, most importantly, in different formats.

This has led to massive innovation and a push into digital communications, with email marketing emerging as a central pillar to integrated marketing communications strategies. However, data protection legislation simply hasn’t kept pace with the rapid adoption of digital communications platforms.

Enter GDPR – the legislation that the EU has agreed is needed to ensure individuals have suitable rights over the use of their personal data. It’s finally time for data protection regulations to catch up with the technical advances of the last 20 years.

As part of the changes, the definition of personal data has been extended to include online identifiers such as IP addresses and location data. How organisations (and marketers) deal with this, is one of the many challenges of the GDPR, especially for those using location based services.

GDPR also tightens up the opt-in and consent criteria, to ensure that consumers are protected against unsolicited communications and to keep personal data out of systems when it is no longer necessary to retain it. Say goodbye to any ambiguous, pre-ticked boxes allowing you to send any matter of communications to consumers – this consent process is being tightened up under GDPR, and websites/systems will need to be changed to comply.

That said, the thought of overhauling CRM systems, websites and email databases to comply with the changes outlined in the GDPR is sending shivers down the spines of marketers across the world.

Marketers have nothing to fear, though – instead we should be looking at what we gain as a result of compliance. The GDPR is pushing marketers to embrace greater rigour and process when it comes to how we obtain, handle and manage personal data, and this can only be a positive.

Very rarely is there such an opportunity for marketers to take a step back, map out all the data they hold, and put in place systems and processes to ensure that the audiences being targeted are legitimate and willing recipients of marcoms. What greater confirmation of an interest in your product or service could you ask for, than unambiguous, affirmative consent to receive specific communications relating to said products/services?

This is the very beginning of a journey, rebuilding consumer trust in a world of intensive, often unwanted, marketing communications. Let’s look at the bigger picture and how this will ultimately benefit marketing professionals and how we work.

Me Learning has developed a new training course specifically for marketing professionals, in association with the Chartered Institute of Marketing and specialist data privacy lawyers, Clayden Law, titled GDPR – for the Marketer.

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