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Are you GDPR compliant; Are you ready?

I promise I am not writing another article about how you must be compliant or you will be subject to a fine of 4% of global turnover, or the ICO will be raiding your business premises anytime soon (Cambridge Analytica like) because you missed a comma off of your compliance statement. GDPR has certainly hit with a bang now, and even the television media are jumping on the bandwagon putting the fear of god into businesses throughout the UK.

Those that work with me will know I am ever so slightly cynical about GDPR, not because I don’t believe individuals personal data needs to be protected, or people have the right to be anonymous, but because it is delivered by the same authorities who have been notoriously bad at protecting personal data or information. I think you would call that ‘ironic’ or may be worded as strongly as ‘double standards’, i.e., we are all carrying the cost having been historically responsible with our own data, and now spending valuable time (and money) implementing compliance procedures based on the fact an element of the rest of the world outside of the SME market have been ever so slightly irresponsible with personal data.

For the want of not wishing to get sued or published in a derogatory way, I won’t even attempt to voice some of the data risks I know about currently, where certain authorities are in danger of losing data that is a great deal more sensitive than any of us will have ever held. However, I will cover the positives of GDPR and what it will hopefully produce as an outcome for all of our businesses wishing to impart information to potential customers who will have a legitimate interest in the products and services we sell.

So, what are those positives?

I am sure when we all switch on our computers at the start of the working day, click the send and receive button, in floods a succession of emails we cannot even remember subscribing too. Much of it is spam (we know we never subscribed to that) generated to the masses on cloned servers around the world (I wonder what policy government has in store to control that), and the rest are legitimate businesses looking to sell us the latest products and services, or providing useful information they feel we would have a legitimate interest in receiving. We will of course study the information we find interesting and delete the rest. Or we will mark it as spam hoping that very annoying spam content will disappear permanently from our inboxes (unlikely). We will, however, all be grateful ‘in time’ that our email inboxes will have less and less noise that distracts away from the legitimate content we find useful. Undoubtedly less noise in our inboxes is going to be one of the major positives around GDPR and I am personally noticing this before the deadline in a few weeks time.

For marketers, this means the content that is being transmitted will be more noticeable. It will, if targeted properly to an opted in database for consumers or professionally compiled business database, create more attention in front of the end user. This is a real positive for that most proactive and accessible of mediums, email marketing. Accompany this with those who try to sell huge databases for the princely sum of £99 claiming it is of high quality will rapidly disappear from the market if they haven’t already. This means the data we purchase in future may be smaller in numbers, but will be of higher quality. I am sure the EU and ICO were actually unaware of this impact, but let’s all at least thank them for filtering out an element of the unwanted mail in our inboxes and making sure we don’t succumb to the mass data £99 so called great deals. GDPR at the very least is educating business owners that high quality data needs to be looked after properly, verified continually and filtered extensively. This can take many hours whether you are maintaining your own data, or you diligently run a data house ensuring the value and quality of the data you sell. When it comes to data, you certainly get what you pay for whether it is your time, or someone else’s. After all, data is the new gold!

So, what are the positives?…

  • Purchased data will naturally be of a higher quality
  • Your inboxes will be less crowded
  • A higher degree of interest in the content that is delivered to you
  • It will nurture stronger associations and relationships with our customers
  • It will create a level of transparency. Transparency of informing the individual on why and what you will be communicating to them leads to a greater level of trust with that individual recipient of your information
  • This is the element I love… Marketers will now need to work harder to acquire consented ‘personal’ data. This is the beginning of the end where we are blinded by statistics, i.e., success is based in creative interaction rather than numbers.
  • Creativity is firmly back where it belongs… we need to become more creative to buy in trust and desire for those to subscribe to our content

The creative aspect of marketing in general has been blinded for many years. The digital age saw the intervention of tools and methods of gauging response, but this period has somewhat failed in regards to creativity and building brands. It has favoured the analytics and lead generation statistics over the more powerful concept of building relationships and reputation. For businesses to get noticed, especially now the digital world is incredibly busy, you have to be highly creative with your content and targeted with your method of delivery, and focus on building not just leads, but also loyalty to your brand.

It is my firm belief that marketing and the need to be creative, rather than hitting numbers, is now winning through. GDPR will help nurture that process, and we will return to exploring the value of our brand, more than we have historically valued numbers over creativity and targeted delivery.

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