GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is to be implemented on 25th May 2018, with the aim of strengthening data protection for those within the European Union. The regulation is set to focus on the retention and exportation of personal data, for customers, clients and employees, to international and general third parties. This will include personal data such as name, address and contact details, as well as online information such as IP addresses, captured in analytical software.

With GDPR looming it is critical for all businesses to understand what these new rules require of them to change, with an emphasis put on implementing these ahead of the deadline day, to ensure your company is running in accordance ahead of the curve. Not only will preempting these changes provide businesses with peace of mind and improved practices but will also reduce the risk of being slapped with a hefty fine.

The changes that GDPR will bring, look to permanently alter the face of marketing, with email marketing as one of the most significant areas to feel the full affect. New regulations require strict adherence to a clear opt in/opt out process, many companies may see their email newsletter subscribers significantly drop. Those who are dependant on direct mail as the core driver for their sales may need to consider alternatives to ensure they maintain and continue to grow a customer base. Considering new methodology for driving traffic and sales, will now need to form the basis of future marketing plans, with direct marketing requiring new and innovative ways of overcoming these new barriers.

Social media

Social media marketing is a great way to target new and existing customers in their natural habitat. With a variety of social media platforms which are inherently more appropriate for different industries and customer demographics, you can create a profile of your desired customers and match this to the most appropriate channel.

Despite social media marketing being a prominent trend, many marketers are yet to adopt it within their practice or use it optimally. With a vast number of businesses who are still yet to efficiently utilise it to form conversations with customers and build brand personality, they may be missing out on a signifcant portion of their customer base. With the potential decrease of mass direct marketing, companies should focus on delivering cross-channel experiences, which include call-to-action content as well as visual features that are appealing to mobile users.

Social media works perfectly for those who are concerned about missing opportunities to target their customers via email. With social media terms and conditions and privacy policies covering consent and data use for each platform, brands can relax a little knowing that they have likely been compliant to this for some years. Furthermore, you are more likely to be targeting the people who are interested in your brand, with sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram directed towards a specific demographic or set of interests, and organic posts appearing due to a user expressing an interest, ‘liking’ or ‘following’ your page or profile.

Outdoor and print marketing

Outdoor and print advertising is often considered as traditional forms of marketing, and with the introduction of GDPR, they may see a revival. Outdoor advertising delivers brand visibility with ease and effectiveness, to a mass audience. Now, outdoor advertising does not necessarily have to be static – it can be digital, positioned on many different providers, such as billboards, buildings, places of transit, and across modes of transport themselves.

Resourceful marketing departments and agencies will now be brushing up on their knowledge of ‘smart billboards’, which offer a unique way to integrate your brand into the everyday life of your customers. However, it is necessary to remain wary of how intrusive this could be considered and to what degree we pursue this method of targeting, at the expensive of our customers’ privacy.

Public relations

PR is often used to build credibility associated with a brand. Specialists will help manage media coverage and boost the amount of trust associated with the brand, while simultaneously aiming to put the product or service at the front of mind. Furthermore, PR can be beneficial as part of a holistic marketing plan, to generate business leads achieved through media coverage, featured placements on TV and radio and via white papers and studies.

PR can often be referred to as ‘earned media’ in comparison to paid media, as there typically isn’t a cost associated with the placement, as there is with paid campaigns and advertising placement. When considering how GDPR may affect your current marketing tactics, it may be wise to integrate earned placements of PR into your efforts, to further boost your visibility and ensure your tactics are coving all bases.

Quality over quantity

Most importantly, establishing in-depth customer profiles based on data collected through means such as surveys and focus groups will allow your company to develop more tailored direct marketing campaigns. Through establishing a clear identity for the types of people who use your service or product, and those who are not currently customers but have that potential can offer you valuable insights into how and where to target these untapped audiences. With the loss of instant access to an abundance of data, once the GDPR regulations take full effect, businesses will more likely need to utilise ‘given’ data such as funding discovery activities.

Finally, companies should recognise the users who do remain subscribed and identify their purchasing patterns, offers which encourage them to make repeat purchases and past activities which have spurred on additional purchases, such as loyalty scheme or free delivery subscriptions. Businesses, now more than ever, are facing the option of composing relevant and engaging digital marketing material or falling victim to declining sales and decreased brand interest.

Granular consent

When reaching the point of categorising subscribers and un-subscribers, businesses may consider a granular consent format. This allows for all forms of marketing to be individual options, allowing the subscriber the preference of choosing which forms they may want to maintain. This method also allows the business to be transparent as to what their marketing intentions are. For example, illustrating how the individual’s personal data will be used, and the benefits of preserving their subscription.

GDPR may appear to bring drawbacks. However, these changes are designed to, ultimately, protect your customer’s data. This may be the optimal time to consider your direct marketing tactics and review the optimal ways to communicate and attract your customers. If you are unsure about how GDPR will affect your direct marketing, get in touch with Absolute DM today!