Personal data has always needed regulation; even way back in the 90s.
In fact, it was in 1995 that the EU introduced a directive to control the processing of personal data within the European Union. But things are about to change in a big way – and B2B marketers will need to take note.
Dubbed ‘Directive 95/46/EC’, the original directive set out to ensure that data was stored and processed in line with certain conditions. Fast forward 10 years, and the same EU directive is still in force.
Clearly, times have changed and the laws are in desperate need of reform. And later this year, an update will indeed arrive – in the guise of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It’s a big deal for businesses across Europe. Just search Google for ‘EU data protection’ and you’ll see what I mean.
But who will the new laws hit hardest? Arguably, B2B marketers will have to make the most substantial changes to the way they operate – and specifically, to how they contact their customers and prospects.
For those that don’t make changes, the penalty could mean a fine of up to two percent of the company’s annual global turnover.
So let’s look at the three most significant ways life will change for B2B marketing under the GDPR:
Marketers will rely on prospects ‘opting in’ for communication
The ‘opt-out’. It’s a familiar part of marketing communication these days: “If you don’t want to hear from us again, tick this box.”
Under the new EU laws, the opt-out will be no more. Instead, opt-in consent will be required for all marketing communications – even direct marketing methods such as direct mail and telemarketing.
It means marketers will have to get creative and find new ways to convince their prospects to agree to be contacted.
But wait a minute.
This is actually a good thing. With prospects calling the shots, marketers will have no choice but to up their game and give prospects more compelling reasons to engage. And by giving prospects more compelling reasons to engage, marketers can only increase customer engagement and boost sales.
Finding out as much as possible about prospects by using in-depth customer insight strategies will be the key to doing this successfully.
No more ‘do not contact’ flags
Currently, when prospects opt-out of receiving marketing communication, marketers can keep the data and just flag it as a ‘do not contact’ record.
When the new EU data laws come into force, marketers will be required to delete records if customers and prospects request it.
This poses a serious problem when data is kept in various systems throughout the business. Even if data is deleted from one system, there’s a risk it could continue to be used in another system – resulting in fines and reputational damage.
There’s no easy fix to this. Marketers will have to evaluate their data collection processes and make sure they store information with maximum visibility.
A side note: It’s worth noting that the new laws make no distinction between B2B and B2C marketing. So, to comply with the laws, B2B marketers must treat their business customers’ data as personal data or risk being penalised.
Even IP addresses are affected
Under the new laws, marketers will not be able to keep data about prospects’ activity on their website without their permission. This is because IP addresses are considered to be personal data.
To keep a record of prospects’ internet activity, marketers will need to get their prospects' prior consent.
Clearly, this will have a big impact on the way marketers conduct online marketing and use web analytics.
What should marketers do next?
These are just three of many implications that the new laws will have on B2B marketers everywhere.
And it’s imperative that B2B marketers take note – not just to avoid penalties, but to protect the value of the marketing data, too.
Look at it this way. If it costs you £10 to acquire a customer and you have 200,000 customers, your marketing database is worth £2,000,000.
So don’t take a risk. We can help you assess what impact the EU Data Protection Regulation will have on your business, and eliminate the risk it poses to your marketing activities.
Why not get in touch today?