As GDPR approaches, the sense of trepidation settling over the marketing world is almost palpable. We’ve spent the last couple of years being told about massive fines and exacting requirements. But ending ‘business as usual’ isn’t necessarily bad. With scandals concerning insufficient web security and leaked personal information plastered across the front pages of newspapers and websites, taking steps towards openness can just as readily represent opportunity. Embracing the possibilities offered by GDPR can enhance your customer centricity, by visibly placing your users’ needs first, whilst also improving your efficiency and eliminating sources of risk.
The benefits of transparency
Being open in the way your business curates, manages, and uses customer data is a great way to build trust in your brand. Openly explaining what data you want, why you need it, and how it will be used will reassure your customers that they retain control over their own data. Scandals and bad PR surrounding shady data practices have left customers feeling violated, making clear and open alternatives even more desirable.
In a recent study, 81% customers indicated that they were more, not less, likely to share their personal data with a business once GDPR has been enacted. And as many businesses grudgingly try to do the bare minimum to be compliant with GDPR, the benefit of enhanced transparency is considerable if your company does so above and beyond the strict letter of the GDPR requirements. In particular, implementing the same openness and consent for those outside the legally mandated area has the benefit of helping your business to establish itself as ‘ahead of the pack’.
Clearing the air
The positives of GDPR extend beyond a greater customer-centric business model. GDPR can represent the spring cleaning your data management needs. The task of scrutinising and re-evaluating the data you use while justifying its value, while daunting, will have the long-term effect of increasing efficiency and a providing a greater return on your investment. It’ll streamline your data, encouraging your company to really think and assess what you need, why you need it, and what benefit it will truly have in your business strategy. GDPR will force you to confront your data management strategy and ensure that not only are you more efficient in the data you collect and store, but additionally, you’ll be more knowledgeable about the data used within your customer relationship management.
Another study in the run up to GDPR showed 60-80% of the data a company held was either obsolete or irrelevant to the company’s business strategy. The money wasted on storing information that will never be put to use can be used to offset the cost of your GDPR implementation. While it may feel like the data cull may lose you leads, you may well find you’re cutting out less engaged leads, and are left with those customers who are most interested in your services. It could help your ability to target your company message to those who will listen, investing resources that would have been wasted into greater personalisation.
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has taken the lead here, encouraging brands to pledge to a manifesto encouraging them to act within the spirit and values of the legislation – that of data transparency, customer ownership, security and data collection. WFA Chief Executive Stephan Loerke stated the intention of the manifesto is not to create a rigid rulebook, but instead guidelines by which companies should aim to “put people and customers first in this area to regain and rebuild trust.”
This isn’t to say that GDPR won’t present a challenge for the industry. But it’s also an opportunity to step out from the shadow of suspicious data scandals and give your audience the reassurance they need to view your business as one that’s trustworthy, reliable, and customer-centric.