The Unexpected Benefits of GDPR


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Long before it went into effect, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sparked feelings of dread among marketers worldwide. Designed to protect consumer privacy and give people more control over how companies use their data, GDPR was regarded as a threat to data-driven marketing strategies.

Marketers wondered whether they would lose the ability to collect data, target brand messages, learn from consumer behavior and improve marketing performance. It was all gloom and doom when it came to GDPR.

But many marketers are looking at this from the wrong perspective. Instead of considering it a disaster, GDPR is actually an opportunity to create better customer experiences and spur greater customer loyalty.

Regardless of where they live and whether they’re protected by GDPR, consumers want the brands with which they do business to use their data carefully and respectfully. In Europe, that sentiment is mandated by the new regulation. Elsewhere, it’s reflected in studies of consumer behavior. Accenture, for example, found that more than 90 percent of consumers are more likely to shop when brands recognize them and make relevant recommendations, and that more than 80 percent of consumers will willingly share their data if doing so will enable that personalized experience.

GDPR brings first-party data – the information your company collects and maintains about your customers – into greater focus for your marketing campaigns. When brands collect that data transparently and with full consent from their buyers, marketers should feel empowered to use it.

Not only are they following regulations in large consumer markets, they can also be more creative and get to know their prospects and customers at a deeper and more personal level. They can deliver the right content to the right channel at the right time to encourage greater brand affinity and generate repeat purchases.

Specifically, here’s where the impact of GDPR can influence your marketing campaigns:

Unify your data sets to create more personalized campaigns.

Understanding how your customers interact with your brand across devices, channels and browsers is no small feat, especially as the data may come from a number of disparate databases internally and not be readily available to marketers. In fact, only 28 percent of digital marketers are leveraging their first-party data across paid media and ad campaigns. In other words, brands are losing out on a huge opportunity to personalize their marketing efforts and connect with customers on their terms and with the data they’ve agreed to share.

First-party data gives you a better idea of where people are in the customer journey so you can share content or offers accordingly. For example, your customer may first open an email, comparison shop via mobile, click on a Facebook ad and then make a purchase via laptop. This is just one of the many paths to purchase, so analyzing your data to see how customers buy and what they respond to will help you more effectively personalize ecommerce campaigns. Take advantage of the spotlight GDPR has put on internal data to invest resources in bringing all your customer data together into one location and under your purview.

Expand your customer segment worldview.

Marketers can go to great lengths to create compelling content and offers, but consumers will ignore them if those messages aren’t relevant to them. Oftentimes, marketers spend so much time on content creation or channel delivery that they fail to segment customers appropriately.

Instead of focusing on one customer segment and emailing everyone the same exact content, leverage your data to understand which segments should get which messages. For example, you shouldn’t treat your loyal, long-time customers and disengaged, at-risk customers the same way. Instead of grouping customers into one general category, consider multiple specific segments, and then create unique content and marketing campaigns for each.

With a strong understanding of your GDPR-compliant data, you can create more effective campaigns that engage customers, increasing the value of these interactions.

Try and try again – experiment often.

It’s fall, which means only one thing to most ecommerce and direct-to-consumer marketers: time to start preparing for the holiday shopping season. This is a perfect chance for you to experiment with a subset of your data to plan and create a targeted holiday campaign. And you can start small. Focus on quality and not quantity, meaning don’t contact everyone you’ve ever interacted with for your upcoming campaigns.

The opportunity lies in finding the balance; how do you keep engaged users engaged, while not annoying those that want to hear from you, just less frequently? Change up your approach based on the data insights you can glean to encourage more engaged eyeballs. But of course, always use data that you have permission to access.

GDPR stipulates that companies gain consent from customers in order to capture their data. It’s not a death knell for targeted marketing. On the contrary, by taking control of your customer data to comply with GDPR, you can also empower your brand to deliver more effective marketing campaigns that result in greater engagement and more revenue.

Eric Keating
Eric Keating is the vice president of marketing at Zaius, a B2C CRM. A go-to-market business leader, Eric is focused on helping top consumer brands grow by improving their understanding of customer behavior. Prior to joining Zaius, he was the vice president of the software-as-a-service division at Millward Brown Digital.


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