Are you under estimating your B2B marketing efforts ahead of the GDPR changes in data privacy?

What is GDPR and how will it affect my B2B marketing efforts?

Over the coming year, one of the biggest challenges facing B2B marketers will be the implications of the new EU GDPR data privacy legislation. In 2017 you will need to continue the hard work towards compliance that you have already started. With the regulation coming into effect on 25th May 2018, there is still a lot to do.

The GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation (click to read all 261 pages of the directive) is designed to unify data privacy laws across the EU, giving EU citizens more control over their personal data and how organisations can use and must protect this data.

Those of us getting our businesses ready for the new legislation need to take the preparation seriously, as the consequences of non compliance with the new rules are severe.

Organisations that store and/or process EU consumer data must employ strong measures to protect personal data, regardless of where they as a company are located. Regulatory compliance may be viewed as an administrative task, but if your company is found to be in breach of the regulations you will face steep penalties and may be fined up to 20 million EUR or 4% of annual global turnover.

The loss is not only financial, from a marketing and PR perspective, any breach carries the risk of damage to your company’s reputation at the expense of customer trust and loyalty.

As well as laying down foundations that will protect consumers, the marketers that take action now will be better placed to take advantage of the situation next year.

The year ahead for businesses will be focused on tackling the questions raised by GDPR. There will no doubt be a period of uncertainty and stress, generated to some extent by working out how the changes will affect your business.

Many organisations will discover the need to re-design, reconsider or just update their data protection compliance practices.

With regards to sales and marketing we already know that the industry as a whole is subject to suspicion from consumers. Plus as the noise around this topic will increase the closer we get to May 2018, consumers and businesses may become even more wary of practices with regards emailing, profiling, tracking, etc. All of which will add even more pressure to nailing compliance.

As a company it is recommended that you conduct a thorough review of the various types of personal data you have stored, their source, what they are used for and the role they play in your business. By working hard today on gaining insight into your own data supply chain, you can identify potential risks and vulnerabilities that can lead to the threat of hacking or data breaches.

As a marketer now is a good time to assess your current marketing programs where you engage with your customers, for example your; email strategy, blog subscriptions, e-newsletters, landing pages and forms, calls-to-action, etc.

While there will be focus on compliance, taking the time now to re-appraise how you do things could also be a catalyst to change the way you interact with your customers. Time to consider a change to selling how the customer wants to buy.

Historically many companies have traditionally used outbound marketing to generate leads, with businesses pushing out information to contacts whether they asked for it or not.

Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing Behaviour

Outbound marketing does have benefits, especially for larger companies with bigger budgets to cover a wider range of tactics. Exponents of outbound methods tend to focus more on sales enablement and less on leads and traffic growth compared to a more inbound focused one.

But changes in buyer behaviour and attitude are forcing sales and marketing to target a buyers’ specific needs and preferences throughout the buying cycle, a shift to a buyer-centric approach utilising digital resources. Below you can see the customer journey across the inbound methodology as they start as a stranger and end up as a brand promoter. 

The inbound marketing methdolology

The inbound methodology sets out to attract rather than distract an audience and grows attention organically by generating website traffic using educational content for visitors searching to learn something. This audience may have already expressed an interest in what you have to offer - by visiting your website, downloaded content or opened an email you have sent that they have already opted-in for.

Content Mapping for the buyers journey in an inbound marketing program

This is where inbound marketing can help with your compliance to GDPR. You will need to make sure you are creating and utilising high-quality content on your website, that can be gated as a tactic to collect email addresses with a double opt-in consent.

The largest concern for most marketers about GDPR is consent. Proving if necessary that your contact has double opted-in. You must be able to show that you got the consent in the correct way, stored it properly and have an audit trail that the contact is who they say they are. If your contacts are silent or you take inactivity as a yes, you will be breaking the rules.

Today many marketers use a range of crafty, soft opt-ins seeking consent to communicate with a contact. Going forward if your message around consent is a little fuzzy (on purpose) and is more of a softer route for consent (think smoke and mirrors) then these will be deemed non-compliant with the new GDPR, so a good habit to adopt is to be strict and go down the route of a double-opt in now. You will not in the future be able to send to a B2B contact an unsolicited email for marketing.

What Is A Double Opt-in?

A double opt-in email feature gives you the ability to require that your email recipients confirm they want to receive email communication from you when for example filling out a form. When you enable this feature, typically the workflow is to first send out an opt-in request email after someone fills out one of your forms. From this email, the contact will have to click on a link in the email to confirm that they want email communications and to confirm who they say they are. You can of course follow this up with a thank you email to get the conversation started.

When using a double opt-in your emailing lists will be far better qualified, although you may end up with a smaller list - having a contact willingly opt-in should see the list perform better. There is of course also the protection against spam bots and fake subscribers. Users that have to confirm that they want email communications are typically the ones that will open, read and engage with your business.

In the future you will need to also detail exactly what personal data you are collecting and how it will be processed and used.

The Value Of Emailing

A targeted email sent to the right person at the right time along their buying journey is a key tactic in inbound marketing. 

But the question remains for most marketers, how do you convince an audience that they should opt-in to your communications? The currency for a contacts opt-in consent is high value content that they can learn from and use. 

Ultimately, it’s about engaging your audience – not selling to them.  All too often we ask ourselves, “What kind of content will help us convert more leads?” when we should ask, “What kind of content will our target audience appreciate, that adds value to their day and will attract them to come back?” The answer to these questions is pretty simple: Focus on solving the pains of your customers – not trying to address yours.

So What is Content?

Content is a cost-effective source of organic website traffic created and distributed in such a way that it grows your organic visitors using embedded links, shares and call-to-action buttons.

According to the recent Brightedge Report organic search is the primary content vehicle that drives over 51 percent of B2B and B2C website visitors. Other media, such as email, referrals and display, account for 34 percent of traffic; paid search accounts for 10 percent; and social just 5 percent of traffic.

Content distributed through a blog can be used to establish a level of professional authority in what you do. However, when it comes to e-guides and white papers that provide a more detailed expert view, this form of content can be gated, asking for opt-in details in exchange.

Your marketing activity will need to fill the sales pipeline with leads, because a successful double opt-in strategy needs a robust lead generation program. Within the inbound marketing methodology, lead generation falls in to the second stage. It occurs after you've attracted an audience, have permission to communicate with them and are nurturing these visitors into leads for your sales team as you can see in the HubSpot chart below.

Inbound Methodology from HubSpot

Take Away

A great source of information if you want to start reading more about GDPR is provided by the ico (Information Commissioners Office) in the UK. 

As a company it is recommended that you conduct a thorough review of the various types of personal data that you have stored, their source, what they are used for and whether it is critical to your business.

The first mistake to avoid is assume that GDPR should be considered only as an issue for the IT dept, it’s not - it needs to be considered across many different departments.

We will not be able to replace the need for legal advice, and this blog cannot be used as legally binding advice. It is vital for you to discuss GDPR and the implications for your organisation with appropriate legal advisors.

Contact John for a GDPR consultation


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