GDPR forces marketers to go back to drawing board

bondiNew research from NTT Security predicts that it will take up to five years until there are high levels of true GDPR compliance. Personally I think this is a bit of a scaremongering statistic, but it is undeniable that some organisations are flying close to the wind when it comes to adhering to the new directive.
However, that said we’re now over a month in and the world hasn’t stopped turning as some doomsayers suggested it might. While it’s still early days, marketing spend has not bottomed out and consumers haven’t run screaming for the hills.
In fact a study by W8Data reveals that prior to GDPR 79% of repermissioning campaigns were successful, indicating that many customers do actually value the relationships they hold with their favourite brands.
The great thing about GDPR is that it provides marketers with an opportunity to re-set. How often do we get such chances? Almost never. Initially, brands were terrified of letting go. Many saw the volume of their customer data as an important measure of brand equity. But in fact this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Volume is actually a vanity metric. Many of the records have zero impact on the bottom line and end up in the long term actually costing money in storage and maintenance.
So now that the May 25 has been and gone, it doesn’t mean we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and take our foot off the gas. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Now the hard work begins. The meter has been reset to zero and making the most of GDPR compliance is the name of the game.
Already we are seeing a marked shift in how brands are considering their marketing effort. It’s been incredibly refreshing to re-evaluate the marketing mix through a GDPR lens.
For instance, the resurgence of print. Traditional direct mail has been much maligned over the years, however, when used as it was originally intended it is an incredibly powerful tool. Nothing beats the tangibility of a mailpack when it comes to relationship building. You can quite literally put your brand in your customers’ hands.
For many organisations this had been forgotten. The mail became a pedestrian medium used for statements or important information that needed to be communicated. Digital was where the creativity was at. Email, apps, social, PURLs you name it.
But post GDPR, the landscape has shifted as consumers have much more control over what they receive and how they receive it. This has meant that marketers have had to go back to the drawing board and replan the customer communication journey. Best practice for each channel has been reconsidered and already we’re seeing much more tailored and cohesive campaigns emerge; truly making one-to-one marketing a reality.
I for one, am delighted that GDPR compliance is not a one-off consideration, but an ongoing process, as with the advent of new technology, improved platforms and good old-fashioned planning, marketing is going to continue to get smarter – but within a framework that engenders relationship building. As the saying goes “it is better to travel well, than to arrive”.

Carolyn Bondi is founding partner and data strategist at The Thread Team

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