GDPR: Marketing’s Tool for Trust?


The full global impact or ramifications of GDPR are still unknown.

  1. GDPR coupled with other data breach matters have placed customers on alert about their data.
  2. Fines can be excessive and risk mitigation will be the first-level response by companies and organization.
  3. Advanced marketers will find opportunities to build a new level of relationship and engagement opportunities and metrics to better measure brand equity and CLV (customer lifetime value)
  4. The execution success, consistency and transparency build resilient revenue over a long time.

Happy GDPR day

As consumers, we are regularly reminded of how much of our identity-related data is out in the digital ethos. How do consumers expectations for personal experience exceed the unwanted collection of data?

The new directive focuses on ensuring businesses more transparent and expanding the privacy rights of data subjects.

With GDPR, companies may not legally process any PII (personally identifiable information) without one of the of six conditions being met.

  • Express consent of the data subject.
  • Processing is necessary for the performance of a contract with the data subject or to take steps to enter into a contract.
  • Processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation.
  • Processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of a data subject or another person.
  • Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.
  • Processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the controller or a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests, rights or freedoms of the data subject.

Fines range from a lower limit of up to €10 million, or 2% of the worldwide annual revenue of the prior fiscal year. For the upper limit: up to €20 million, or 4% of the worldwide annual revenue of the prior fiscal year.

According to E&Y, large multinationals will spend $7.8 billion to comply and more than half will unlikely be prepared by today (May 25th) deadline.

At first glance, GDPR appears to be a marketer’s only problem. Yet, companies are transforming their go-to-market strategies and operations toward customer-centricity. As such, the experience and brand responsibility extend beyond the one department. According to a recent Gartner study on customer experience, “… in two years’ time, 81% [of organizations] say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.”

Another complication is the challenge of disparate customer data marketing solutions. There are an astounding 6829 companies identified on the Marketing Technology Landscape(Martech 5000). These technologies include sales, customer success, customer experience, data, and management solutions. Last year, a survey found an average enterprise company has 91 marketing cloud solutions within its organization. Each of these holding data that may need processing under GDPR.

At a recent GDPR roundtable hosted by SAP, Liz Miller, SVP of the CMO Council shared that audits are an immediate need and skill set among marketers leading these efforts. This activity will become an ongoing effort beyond the GDPR compliance deadline coupled with independent support/assessments.

So where does GDPR become an advantage for marketers? We know that strong brand equity correlates well with revenue growth and greater shareholder return.


So as GDPR plays out for companies and consumers, one possible advantage is seamless implementation. A Capgemini report on preparedness for GDPR showed that 85 percent of US and EU firms will not be ready to comply fully on time. Further, it describes that one in four will not likely be fully compliant by the end of the year. Consumers may prefer companies who have not created a poor experience for significant errors in the transition. Patrick Salyer, CEO of Gigya now an SAP company, offers great leadership advice to impress on the critical nature of this customer data effort within your organization by “replacing the word ‘GDPR’ with ‘Trust’.” Mika Yamamoto, Chief Digital Officer responsible for SAPs customer data feels this step up the profession of marketing where those who earn the right to engage will win the best customers.

New Engagement Metrics

Then, another opportunity for marketers is leveraging this new customer engagement as a performance indicator. As customers signal their desired relationship strength through digital preferences, marketing leaders can the collectively monitor this level as a success metric. The greater a customer shares data with a brand, the more is added to the total brand equity.

Data Management

While statistics vary, a quarter of a customer and prospect databases become out of date annually. As GDPR becomes deployed, marketers will have an opportunity to rethink data management practices not only within marketing but throughout the organization. Usually, most marketing professionals are forced to place such initiatives on the ‘nice to have’ category. Now, the urgency for compliance gives us a ‘remodel’ opportunity where it leads to conversations of a well-connected customer experience.

Customer Experience

Startups live and die based on customer experiences. In the enterprise, execution on customer experiences represents billions won or lost. Privacy awareness and expectations are becoming table stakes. Kabir Barday, Founder and CEO of OneTrust, shares with this intense interest in the use of customer data, “consent and transparency become the key currencies for marketers”. As a result, companies have a competitive advantage opportunity through designing marketing practices around respecting the client’s wishes on design.

Another unexpected benefit is from unforced errors by competitors poorly implementing GDPR could prove to add to the accelerated leads and customer opportunities.

What’s Old is New Again…

Marketers are optimists. So, in the same vein, let’s consider what Dale Carnegie, author of the timeless book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, quotable suggestions:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile. (virtually, physically)
  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Human nature has not changed. So long as our policies and training revolve around open, transparent and relevant engagements, we will earn our customers interest and trust.

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