The long wait is over and the big day finally arrived. Europe's General Data Protection Regulation law, better known as GDPR, is officially in effect.
Some companies began working years ago to comply with the new law, other businesses are scrambling to update their data inflow to ensure compliance.
While the data stakes are bigger now, at its heart, this is a very simple law, well, as simple as a law can be that consists of 11 chapters.
But it's not as bad as you think. Below are a few things to keep in mind as we enter this brave new GDPR world.
1. This is a European law, but….
GDPR is Europe's attempt at implementing a uniform data protection policy rather than dozens of different policies for each country. While the law is a European one, it protects all Europeans regardless of where the marketing content comes from.
That's not to say that a U.S. company that sells vacuum cleaners has to worry about someone in England Googling them. What it means is that if you could potentially serve someone in England (or any consumer in Europe), if you're willing to take their money, then GDPR pertains to you. You can localize content all you want, but at the end of the day, it's the world wide web, and there are no geographic barriers for your content.
But just because someone finds you via Google doesn't mean they shouldn't read your content – it's the form beneath the call to action that you need to be wary of (unless you accumulate data via cookies or other means that people visiting your site are not aware of, in which case you should consult an expert). And it's actually not that hard to fix…
2. Double opt-in is a marketer's best friend.
I started using double opt-in on forms almost two years ago. Working for a German software company, the rules were already strict. Personally, my first reaction when I heard about our policy was "How in the world will we ever get any leads?"
Not only were my fears unfounded, it made my job easier. When you send an email to a database full of people who want to hear from you, they actually engage. Yes, asking people to click another button to download a piece of content does seem daunting, but there two reasons why this is a good thing (besides your email open rate).
You must produce enticing content.
Double opt-in isn't exactly a laborious step. It does give consumers a chance to think twice about whether or not they want to share their contact information.
Some people will change their minds. The way to overcome that hurdle is to produce content that's compelling enough so consumers don't mind providing their contact information.
Use GDPR as an opportunity to audit your content and determine how it can help you produce better content moving forward.
The quality of your data quality will be better.
Besides engagement, data quality is vital to healthy lead-nurturing strategies and the eventual hand-off to your sales team. Until today, the mantra for many marketing teams was quantity over quality. That strategy made sense to an extent. You never know if firstname.lastname@example.org will convert. Now that having too much data can get you in trouble, that strategy isn't worth it. True, utilizing the data correctly will require thought and strategy, but your data analysts will be able to spend their time with real data rather than sifting through a bunch of junk.
3. The fines are big.
The fines for noncompliance are real. Violations of GDPR can result in fines up to 20 million euros or four percent of your annual worldwide earnings for the last 12 months. This would bankrupt many companies and certainly cause a dent in an earnings report of companies it wouldn't bankrupt.
If the steep penalties aren't a motivator to rethink your digital marketing strategies, then perhaps nothing will. However, considering that the average cost per lead in the tech space is 45 dollars, under GDPR, the lead value will go up, which may eventually lead to big savings for your company.