GDPR Compliance and Why You Should Know About it as a Marketer?

Living in the age of the Internet, where both web and mobile apps have become a necessity for us, we can no longer hold on to our personal information in a firm grasp. In fact, in this digital age, data is the currency that netizens use to gain access to a variety of services and content online. And for marketers, this data is the key to success – it provides valuable insights into consumer behaviour patterns, their tastes and preferences, the latest market and consumer trends, and much more. It is by tapping into the consumers’ data that marketers chalk out their sales and marketing campaigns and develop their products and services.

However, the breach and exploitation of personal data has now become a serious issue. While brands are supposed to use the personal data of their customers to create “personalized experiences” for them, many businesses have started misusing and exploiting this data.

GDPR draws a thin line between using and misusing the data. Let’s look at it in depth.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new data protection law in EU aimed at protecting European citizens from the breach of personal data. Although it was adopted in April 2016, it officially came to effect on May 25, 2018, replacing the 1995  Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.

GDPR has been designed to create a safer online environment for EU citizens and also to help them reclaim their personal information. It is a modern take on personal privacy through standard directives that will lay down the foundation for data handling and compliance. GDPR will bring a shift of power to the EU citizens by allowing them to take charge of their personal data and decide how they would like to share it with brands and companies. Under this law, every company dealing with the personal data of EU citizens must comply with its regulations.

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The six core areas covered by GDPR are:

  • Right to access: Companies must be able to provide a copy of an individual’s data on their request. This allows one to find out where, why, and how their data is being used.
  • Right to erasure: Individuals now hold the ‘right to be forgotten, ‘ that is they can request a data controller to delete all their personal data. One can also ask companies not to allow third-party vendors to access or process his/her data.
  • Privacy by design: Companies designing new systems must consider data compliance and data protection of their consumers right from the start. All processes involved should be created in such a way that user data is only harnessed when absolutely necessary.  
  • Data portability: GDPR validates that EU citizens can request a data controller to grant access to their data ‘in an electronic format.’ They can then switch to another data controller of their choice.
  • Data breach notification: In case user data is leaked, or hacked, or lost, companies must notify their consumers about the data breach within 72 hours.
  • Data protection officers: Companies whose activities are largely data-oriented will require to appoint a data protection officer and notify them of all their activities.

GDPR and Marketing

How will GDPR Impact Marketers?

Now that GDPR is in effect, marketers must rethink and restructure their marketing strategies and campaigns to become GDPR compliant. Following are the key areas where the GDPR will impact the marketers:

  1. Explicit Consent

GDPR mandates that data controllers must take ‘explicit consent’ from consumers eliminating the earlier trend of ‘implied consent.’ Now, companies are required to provide proof that individual users ‘chose’ to opt-in to communications and did not fall into the trap by any default ‘trick’ method. According to GDPR, consent to personal data should be “freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.”

  1. Transparency

Under GDPR, companies now require to maintain complete transparency about how they wish to utilize consumer data. Thus, they must convey their plans in simple and straightforward language for everyone to understand. Also, maintaining transparency will require companies to share all relevant information including their association with other brands and third-party tools and technology.

  1. Alteration of Strategies

Since explicit ‘opt-in’ consent is a must now, marketers can no longer add everyone to the attendee list of their campaigns, but only those consumers who have actually opted-in. They will now be required to provide proof for opt-in. Furthermore, the ‘right to be forgotten’ allows individuals the choice to opt-out. Thus, marketers now have to rethink their CRM strategies. For instance, if any user opts out, you cannot just mark them under ‘do not contact’ tab – you must delete all their personal information.
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GDPR is all about promoting relevant marketing and transparency while offering protection to EU citizens. It is a step towards reshaping the bonding between marketers and consumers.

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Can GDPR create problems for my marketing strategy?

The GDPR outlines several rules that could be relevant for marketers while redesigning their current plans or planning their future marketing strategies. While some of these could create a need for you to review your existing marketing plans, it might not necessarily be bad for your long-term strategy. It might simply mean that you may have to rethink your target audience and upscale the quality of your content to stay relevant. You must always make sure to keep your audience informed about their data and your usage of the same. Respecting the privacy and wishes of the data owners is just as important.

What happens if we fail to comply with the GDPR?

GDPR came to effect on the 25th of May 2018. Since then it has created a lot of opportunities for organizations and marketers to review their strategies concerning sensitive topics such as consumers’ personal data and the usage of the same. In order to ensure and improve the compliance of these regulations, they have also mandated very hefty punishments in case of non-adherence to the same. This could include having to shell out as much as €20million, or up to 4 percent of your organization's annual revenue, whichever is greater, in case you are found to be non-compliant or offending the regulations.

How can I protect my business from a data breach?

The recently enforced GDPR requires you to report to your consumers, within 72 hours, if their data is leaked, hacked, or lost. In this case, it becomes even more important for you to ensure that adequate safety and preventative measures are in place to avoid any such mishap. To protect your business from data breaches, some of the strategies you can utilize are ensuring endpoint and edge protection, restricting access to only the most important stakeholders, reviewing current plans in place, and allocating additional funds if needed.

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