We’re going to see big changes in marketing practices in 2018 when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters into force. Central to the new regulation is the stipulation that you cannot send marketing emails to an individual email address – including business addresses – without first getting the recipient’s permission. That means the days of generic email blasts are more or less over; the number of leads substantially fewer.
I know this is causing a lot of headaches, but I’m not going to dwell on the negatives. Instead, let’s think about the positive outcomes that might arise from this change, ultimately GDPR is going to be good for business.
Fewer leads – but they’re warmer
Yes, you’re working with a smaller pool of prospects, but that pool holds significantly more potential. These people have already given you their first ‘yes’ – with any luck, it will lead to many more. Communicating with people who have already shown some interest in your company is a much easier baseline. Marketing can get down to the business of tailoring content to answer their questions and sales can begin the process with more confidence of a positive result. Sometimes less really is more.
‘Warmer leads’ fits the new customer journey
It seems to me that this smaller pool of available leads will simply mirror what is already happening in B2B sales cycles. Customers are not waiting to be found and swept off their feet – or at least, most aren’t. They’re doing the research and coming to you when they’re close to making a decision. The new, regulated pool of leads may simply be filtering out those companies who were never going to be in your pipeline. Once they’ve made that first step, it’s up to you to guide them the rest of the way.
42% of B2B marketers believe that a lack of quality contact
data is the single biggest barrier to lead generation;
51% of email marketers believe the same.
A smaller audience makes personalization easier
Marketing to smaller groups enables greater personalization and means campaign analysis can be more thorough and more insightful. As discussed in our post How to Support Your ABM Strategy with Sales Enablement Technology this is really the future of marketing and something to be welcomed rather than feared.
But how do they find you in the first place?
Inbound marketing is going to grow in importance, meaning companies need to put more into their social presence and boost their online content. Building brand awareness will be even more critical when engaging customers to opt-in to further marketing.
Some companies are making this step in drastic ways. Pub-chain Wetherspoons, for example, has recently deleted its database of more than half a million customers and opted to focus entirely on social media and publishing content on its website. The company claimed email was too ‘intrusive’ – though critics have said perhaps it didn’t have the right permissions to hold and use all that data – but either way it’s a decisive step towards a new marketing strategy that no doubt others will follow.
Content is key
Whichever platform you choose, creating a variety of content is going to be key to success. Engaging the customer’s attention through humor, thought leadership, knowledge and responsiveness is going to be critical to collect those all-important opt-ins and get customers into the pipeline.
Remember: we’re all customers too
If you’re still feeling depressed about the impact of GDPR on your existing marketing strategy, or all the work involved in fine-tuning your database, take a moment to remember that this new regulation is for your benefit, too. We’re all customers, and we’re nearly all overwhelmed by marketing communications. GDPR is there to protect us.
As marketers I think we’ll find in the long-run it’s a positive change that will lead to better qualified leads, less expensive campaigns, and ultimately, if we do things right, more successful sales pipelines.
What are your thoughts on GDPR? We’d love to hear your comments below!