May 25th 2018 - Father’s Day in France, Ascension Day observed in many European countries and just about the start of the May Bank Holiday in the UK. Oh, and when the biggest change in data protection in the last 20 years comes into force across the EU, and in reality, across the world, as any business that handles data of an EU citizen must be compliant with GDPR Legislation.
Just as no company in the EU will be exempt from GDPR, so no department will be either. With disparate platforms, resources, information and databases, departments must work closer together to ensure compliance. None more so than sales and marketing departments that arguably do the most collection, handling and processing of individual data.
Brexit won’t save us unless withdrawal terms are negotiated as part of our departure, but that’s unlikely to happen before 25 May next year. Arguably you’d be exempt at the point of Brexit if you only trade in the UK, but that’s a grey area.
The first question you may be asking is “why should I care”? The quick answer is “Fines”. The sort that if a compliance investigation was upheld, could affect your business’s ability to trade.
Once you’ve processed that for a minute, the second may be, “what does my sales and marketing department need to do to address compliance?” For this you just need to start to think about the sheer volume of unstructured data residing in emails, personal devices, little black books, Word docs or spreadsheets. Data here can be difficult to locate and if left unmanaged, can be a liability when it comes to GDPR. Data sprawl inevitably leads to duplication across departments that will need to be better controlled moving forward. Data may also be stored in various repositories and companies may not realise which systems handle personal data.
And then there’s the silo mentality. It’s more than telling people they can’t keep their own data records outside of CRM, departments can be guilty of going solo and working alone, creating their own data stores and not sharing information. How many sales people do you know who want to keep “their own contacts” separate? How many lists have marketing bought over the years that are still cold or untouched in months/years? If processes to protect consent and privacy can’t be demonstrated you could be in big trouble in the event of an investigation.
On the bright side, this presents a massive opportunity to create a truly joined up approach to create warmer contacts and better leads from a centrally managed resource – something many companies only pay lip service to and struggle with on a day to day basis.
Here’s why and how. You’ll no longer be allowed to run campaigns that centre around bought lists and email blasts, no clever little opt-in practices of pre-ticking boxes for sign ups. Banned. Your website will need to be more than a placeholder – it’s now an essential tool to get agreement from visitors to receive stuff from you, so fill it with quality content such as whitepapers, videos, infographics and ways to get visitors to contact you. You’ll need to keep records to demonstrate consent – who, how and when. Individuals have a right to withdraw consent and personal data deleted, the so called ‘right to be forgotten’.
Telesales, on the other hand, is exempt from the legislation which offers the opportunity for savvy marketers use the resource to drive opt-ins through extended campaign work linked to a compliant opt-in process via marketing automation, salesforce and CRM.
Sure it’s going to be tougher to generate leads and contacts under GDPR, but those that do opt-in, need to be fully cared for and taken advantage of. Inevitably, GDPR will reduce quantity, but improve quality of contact data. Contacts will have consented for their personal data to be used which in itself is going to lead to better campaign results as they have already shown an interest or at least are open to be contacted. It will need sales and marketing working closer as a team to convert contacts into prospects into customers.
The last question is now “who the heck is going to help me with this?” Inevitably you’ll have skills gaps, but they can be bridged by companies offering specialist sales and marketing services in the IT Channel from data management, telesales, marketing automation as a service and content marketing that can help companies through GDPR compliance and beyond.
There’s certainly no time to lose in taking advantage of the pre-legislation time we have left to use sales and marketing to build your opt-in database for the future.