GDPR and data driven marketing

We are at the end of May 2018 and the much-talked-about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is finally here in the European Union.

GDPR is a new set of rules designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data, and make companies that work with them more accountable for data security, and to provide explicit and clear opt in and opt out mechanisms stating what the data is used for.

This marks a new era in customer rights and helps people declutter their lives and sift out the good potential of the internet from the noise.

There are many write-ups on what GDPR means, so for those who want to know more , you can look up the ICO Link , or, a simplified version.

And now, here are some thoughts on GDPR from the perspective of a company who has built a marketing automation platform to churn out relevant content for the customer across the channel(s) of the customer’s choice.

GDPR is a necessary pain for businesses, but with a good consequence at the end. It will accelerate something that has already been accepted as the right and the only way to do marketing. Keeping the consumer at the center has been discussed for the last decade, with focus on deep customer engagement through relevant content and personalization, a 360-degree view of the customer, and co-ordinated communication across multiple channels.

But companies (especially the large ones with legacy systems and giant marketing teams) have been lazy or found it difficult to adopt this to the full potential.

The new age of data-driven marketing with the customer at the center, by its very nature, aligns to the user rights mandated by GDPR. Let’s take a look at them, one by one:

  1. The right to access: This means that your customers have the right to request access to their personal data that sits with you, and to know what it is used for.

    This is easy when you use data-driven marketing already:

  • Maintain a consolidated 360-degree view of the customers, so that, besides being able to enable better communications,  providing this data back becomes easier and faster.
  • Add continuous value to the customer by actually using the data for personalization, so that it is obvious and they may not even question you. For example, would any user of Netflix ask what their data is used for? It is on their face in the form of recommendations that simplify their movie choices.
  • You can take this one step further proactively. Let’s say a user wants to know what information you store about them, how about you show them a specially built profile page made just for them; with their basic information, of course, and even include value-added information like product recommendations based on their tastes. Most of them would love to engage with you and voluntarily keep their data with you. Think of all the “personality test” sites or bespoke fashion sites that ask people for all sorts of information just to give back a personality type or tailored made fashion recommendations in return. Of course, this suggestion is in the context of retail and B2C businesses that are engaging by nature than the others.

2. The right to suppress: This means that once a user invokes the right to suppress clause, all data for the user going forward needs to be dropped.

If a person has no more use of your services going forward, it is helpful for you to know that and move your focus to other customers. These are the best practices in data-driven marketing aligned with this clause:

  • Set up different frequencies of communication to your users depending on their interest expressed on your site, for example, active users, recently inactive users, or inactive users.  Active users get the most frequent communication, recently inactive users get occasional communication, and inactive users get communication maybe one or two more times to finally check before stopping entirely.
  • Use a multichannel marketing engine to keep track of the users’ communication channel preferences (email, browser notifications, text messages, and so on) and enable communications on the most preferred channels that are learnt based on their response.
  • Automatically remove any unsubscribes or bounces of email addresses so they are not targeted again.  Channels like browser notifications already take care of this by stopping delivery of notifications to a user over time in the case that a user does not respond to it.

3. The right to erasure: Hopefully if your customer engagement is strong enough that you retain your valuable customers, then the people that ask their data to be erased permanently were long gone, and you should not have been targeting them anyway. It saves you time and money to have that list of people removed from your records. Move on, and find the right audience.

What about your user acquisition strategy then? How do you reach those users that do not know enough about you yet? Adopt a strong top of the funnel engagement strategy

  1. Build strong content and get your organic traffic going.
  2. Optimize your ad spend and fine tune the target group so you get every penny’s worth. Extrapolate the current user segments that are most engaged with you to find your new audiences.
  3. When your ads bring visitors to your sites, they should see content in line with the ad that landed them here immediately. If they deny permission for setting cookies, do not sign in to your email popup, or refuse to stay updated with browser notifications, it means that either the experience was not good enough or you are not relevant to them.
  4. Adopt new channels that do not need PII data like email ids. Identifiers like browser endpoints for sending browser notifications are domain specific, so by their very nature of the opt-in being valid only for that domain, they become non-transferable. This gives safety to your customers that you cannot share their ids with anyone else.
  5. Build valuable partnerships and plug into the right affiliate networks to get the genuinely interested audience.

Note that for B2B business communication, the guidelines about sending unsolicited communications are slightly more relaxed, because of the “legitimate purpose” clause in GDPR, which indicates that it is okay to reach out to relevant business contacts to explore mutually valuable business opportunities, if your company’s identity and the purpose of reaching out is clear enough.

In the context of GDPR, YFret is both a data controller and a data processor, and while talking to customers in the EU, we realized that we were almost GDPR compliant already. We have now added the necessary APIs and dashboards for our business customers so that they can support user rights to request information and right to erasure. Our privacy policy has also been augmented with GDPR compliance added in.

Drop us a note or request a demo to know more about how our user segmentation and multi-channel targeting capabilities enable a positive experience for your customers, in line with GDPR.

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