Today, I attended a summit on GDPR and Privacy By Design. Before your eyes roll back in your head and you reach for the snooze button, hear me out. One of the speakers came up with a brilliant analogy for GDPR that I’m going to pick up and run with.
I’m going to ask you to think of data collection (predominantly for marketing purposes) and consumer engagement as people in a relationship. Data Collection and Consumer have been getting along famously for years; things couldn’t be sweeter. But something has caught Consumer’s eye. There’s a new mistress in town, and it’s making Data’s life miserable: GDPR.
Suddenly, all Consumer can talk about is GDPR. Consumer is delighted that GDPR will give it control over what it shares with Data Collection; no longer can Data Collection hoard information, squirreling away facts, likes, dislikes, birthdays and spouses names, like that flyaway comment you once made that didn’t go down well and gets brought up every time there’s a disagreement.
This is brilliant for Consumer. GDPR makes Consumer feel safe; listened to and valued as an individual.
An outsider might think that things are looking bad for Data Collection. One might even ask: is it time for marketing based Data Collection and Consumer to break up?
“No!” I hear you gasp.
“Dear God, surely not!” you cry.
Don’t worry, I agree with you. Data is the lifeblood of marketing. We need data for our campaigns to work, otherwise we’d all just be shouting into the void with no hope of our message/service/product reaching the right people.
So, how, as marketers, can we reconcile Data Collection with Consumer?
Let’s continue with the relationship analogy, as I (selfishly) find it more engaging than <insert legal jargon here>. Let’s imagine that Data Collection and Consumer have gone to couple’s therapy. Instead of seeing GDPR as the mistress (and all the inherent doom that comes with it) let’s think of GDPR as the therapist: it’s here to improve the relationship between Data Collection and Consumer.
Remember, GDPR is not the enemy. It is here to help you (Data Collector and Marketer) to improve your relationship with your clients/subscribers/customers (Consumer).
GDPR is the opportunity for Consumer to tell you if the relationship has passed the point of no return, or if there’s something you can do to salvage this connection.
We all know that personalisation is the marketing buzzword at the moment. Your consumers want a personalised experience. Not only do they want this personalised experience, they both expect and demand it. Your consumers want to be listened to; they want their needs to be addressed, acknowledged and understood.
GDPR is your chance to re-engage with your consumer, and to understand what they need/want from you. You mustn’t squander this opportunity to reconnect with your target audience. I understand that some marketers worry that asking your consumers for their consent to your collection of their data (from your website, your email campaigns, your social media…) may detract from the user experience.
Instead, think of it this way: requesting your consumer’s consent is the beginning of their user experience. In order to have a trustworthy relationship with your consumer, you need to be transparent about what you use their data for.
As an example of transparency, let’s take a look at the most recent Facebook fiasco. Mark Zuckerberg has appeared before the Congressional court to answer questions about how Facebook uses their consumers’ data. If you’d like to watch the whole interview, you can do so here. The section that I would like to focus on is where a member of Congress asks Ol’ Zuck if he would like to tell the court which hotel he is staying in. Facebook’s CEO would rather not disclose this information.
BOOM. There you have it: Mark Zuckerberg would prefer not to disclose the location of his hotel, and for the rest of the Congressional hearing no one randomly appeared with flash cards promoting nearby accomodation alternatives that Mr Zuckerberg expressly did not want to see.
This is a prime example of data collection consent under GDPR. Mark Zuckerberg chose not to reveal the location of his hotel: he wants it to remain private, and has denied consent for Congress to gather this data and pitch alternative accommodation/encourage him to review/revisit his current hotel. Therefore, as marketers complying with GDPR, Congress would have to file Mr Mark Zuckerberg under “uninterested in receiving further information about local hotels,” and remove his details from their “Interested in receiving further information about local hotels,” mailing list.
This example shows the idea of GDPR in action. We must remember that the absence of the word “No,” does not imply consent to data collection. In order to gain consent to data collection, we need to reconnect with our consumers; we need to check in with them to find out what they want to hear from us.
We know that it is best practice to keep your mailing lists/data tidy. There is no sense is hoarding data that just isn’t useful to you anymore. You really don’t need to keep hold of that consumer’s email address that has been inactive for five years. That person who signed up for updates from your website ten years ago but has never converted? It’s time to let them go.
You can think of this as both a spring cleaning and money saving exercise. Marketing campaigns cost money, and it is pointless to spend money on marketing to people that have absolutely no active interest in your product or services, but they liked a Facebook post you did back in the day.
GDPR is a chance for marketers to fine tune their relationship with their consumers. Yes, it could create a lot of work for some people in the short term, but this is an opportunity, not a chore.
Things are changing between Data Collection and Consumer, but with the help of GDPR, I think those two crazy kids will be just fine.