As marketers, we’ve come a long way in becoming data-driven experts when it comes to creating more engaging personalized marketing experiences. GDPR is making us think more critically about how we leverage data, maintain customers’ trust, ensure compliance, all while still being able to effectively market and reach customers in relevant ways.

According to Forbes Insights, when it comes to GDPR compliance, 60% of organizations indicated they are challenged with shifting marketing and sales tactics in accordance with GDPR guidelines.

This shows that GDPR’s impact has been a wake-up call for companies across the board and how they leverage data, but I feel it’s a refreshing and much needed one. Data has been foundational to everything we do for the past few years, but GDPR is a good reminder that customers are more than targets and data sets, they are people who value trust and partnership.

So how can GDPR make us better at personalized marketing?

Improve How We Build Trusted Relationships with Consumers

As mentioned in a recent Gartner blog, “GDPR isn’t a death sentence for personalization,” it’s a door opener for change in how we approach personalization. As marketers, we value providing experiences that matter for customers, and that won’t change. We will always strive to connect with consumers on this deeper level, we just need to leverage the data differently.

Leveraging the data is where we must be informed as businesses. A recent Gigya report, The 2017 State of Consumer Privacy and Trust, found that 68% of consumers are concerned about how brands handle their data. For us as marketers, this means that marketing campaigns will need to be more personal and high-touch in order to extract valuable data, while at the same time complying with GDPR regulations.

GDPR is forcing marketers to lead relationships with trust. When relying on consent for marketing, organizations now must ensure consent is “unambiguous”  from consumers at all touchpoints before collecting any information from them or tracking their behavior. Clear communication around consent and guidelines for each touchpoint regarding when and how customers are notified of their privacy rights will be critical. And from a brand standpoint, building this trust with customers and having clear communication will help us build loyalty and follow them throughout their journeys.

As a matter of fact, GDPR should aid us in improving customer experiences by letting customers know that their data is being protected and that their data privacy is being taken seriously.

Keep Your Data Inventory Tidy for a Smoother Path to ROI

If you’ve been behaving well all along, there shouldn’t be a need for overhaul. We have to be very aware of our customer data, its origins, who manages them, how they are shared, and how they are disposed. If you need guidance on the new customer data guidelines I suggest checking this out. Understanding the ins and outs of data and privacy may sound complex, but can lead to a database with more relevant data than ever.

Since databases will only hold data that customers provided with their consent, the information at your fingertips will be truer to your customers’ interests and personas across each touchpoint. Data points across touchpoints combined with third party compliant data can provide you a full picture.

Verifying you are being compliant across your platforms and communications will help when exploring new channels for extracting valuable personal data and targeted messaging. An example is tweaking questions in email opt-in messages to ask customers about their interests, why they’re opting in, and what type of email content they prefer. 

It’s Just the Beginning

Despite the new complexities, we can trust our data knowing that it’s what the customers wanted. This will allow us to build deeper connections with our customers and experiment with new personalized marketing strategies. Remember: having a good privacy practice allows for a good marketing practice.

While GDPR is not U.S. focused, it does impact U.S. organizations doing business in the European Union or targeting consumers located within the European Union. GDPR will likely serve as a template for future data privacy regulations in foreign countries including the U.S. Cisco’s Chief Marketing Officer, Karen Walker, published a blog in March writing, “In reality, every company should be seeking to provide valuable and personalized experiences. So, it’s great we finally have a forcing function to keep us all accountable.”

I’d love your reaction to this and how your organization has reacted to GDPR?