Marketing in the Channel, post-GDPR (everything is ok!)

So here we are, just over two months since the world ended and marketing as we know it has become an unrecognisable myth of a former world within which we used to thrive.…Sorry hang on, that’s not right! In the very same way that we didn’t all implode as a result of Y2K, guess what, I think post-GDPR (dare I say) we are “OK”.

However, that said, let’s not be complacent. Just because the opt-in spam-fest has passed and we haven’t actually descended a one-way street to marketing apocalypticism, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be having a affect on what we do. In fact, the opposite. I absolutely think it should be affecting what we do – and in a really good way!

GDPR wasn’t the result of a European meeting scheduled with the objective of killing marketing. It is about protection, not destruction. And rather than sit moaning about how much less we are able to do now because we can’t spam the shit out of our 10-year-old databases anymore, GDPR has actually presented (serious) marketers with a brilliant opportunity to make the most of trying to be better, the best we can be.

Here’s how I see it. A few things that GDPR has done to present us with a huge opportunity:

  1. Use the data you have: Not the five or ten or fifty thousand spam-fodder records that have been gathering dust over the last decade, but the useful stuff. You have data, you have customers, you have prospects, you have non-transacting customers who have done business with you before, you have data captures on your website and newsletter sign-ups. You have meetings, you have conversations on social. This is useful stuff… use it. Why be proud of the thousands of contacts you have who never interact with your comms, who you never hear from and who never buy from you? “Yeah, but… they might one day”. You are better than junk-mailing. Use the data you have. So, the database; reduces massively from what it was previously… big deal! It’s a good thing. In the olden days we might even refer to this as a kind of ‘data clean’ (goodness me, imagine that?!) What would you rather do – communicate with 1,000 people who want to hear from you or 10,000 who don’t?
  2. Be Smarter: Come on, based on number 1, you know that throwing enough mud at a wall and hoping some will stick is a rubbish approach. So, stop doing it! Take your data and be smarter with it. Write bespoke, individual messages. Tailor your content. Personalise. Segment. Use different methods and platforms. Hang on, why not ask your audience what they want to receive from you? Use them to help you be better! You have less data, so hopefully you will care more about it and want to make the most of it. So, think deeper and be smarter about what options are open to you and your data.
  3. STOP BEING SO BLOODY LAZY! If there is one thing I hate, it’s laziness. In general, but lazy marketing really does my head in. “Blast this out to everyone and hope we get some responses!” There is so much we can do and that is available to us today but that doesn’t mean you always have to look for the latest and greatest. Take a look back as well at what used to be cool! With more dedicated, specific data, personalisation isn’t just about email. We have seen great success from a DM-led campaign over the last 12 months. Looking after and being more accountable for the data you hold does not mean an end to marketing, it means an end to laziness and doing the same old things. Take the opportunity to explore new places and think about new (and old!) things.
  4. Get better ROI: So, you know the data you have is (should be!) of a better quality now and therefore it follows that your ROI percentages should improve. You will be getting better results from your campaigns as the people you are communicating with will, in some way, have told you they are happy to receive communications from you. So, they are more likely to interact with it. This will improve your ROI. As above, who cares if you have 10,000 records to communicate with if only 200 actually respond or interact? The key number here is 200, not 10,000. Now it feels like I am just stating the bloomin’ obvious here… but you’d be surprised. We need to get rid of the ‘what if’ mentality and drill down to what’s important. Better data and smarter marketing with/to it will improve your ROI.
  5. Make the most of this new opportunity: Who doesn’t want to be as good as they can be? Don’t sit and cry about how hard things are now that GDPR has stopped you doing what you have always done. See GDPR enforcement as the creator of a wonderful new opportunity for you and for your business. Because it really is. Look for what else you can be doing? How can you be better? How can you engage more of your audience in ways that will excite and help them connect, emotionally and professionally? Help people to connect with you and your business because they want to… and you will be driving that desire, that demand. And with that connection, driven by emotional reaction and desire, you can do a lot. You can do a lot more.

GDPR means better, more protected data. If this isn’t a chance to improve marketing, not sulk about doing bad marketing, then I don’t know what it is. GDPR was never put in place to kill marketing, increase redundancy or destroy agencies. Data houses still exist right? We can still buy data, they haven’t just gone out of business overnight have they? They have just been encouraged (forced?) to do it better, with more responsibility and more accountability to the data they control and proces

One of my favourite ever quotes, is L.P Hartley “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. Pre-GDPR we did things differently and things have now changed. Accept it and become better. This should make us smarter, make us think more, make us be better marketers. And now we must work with today and what comes tomorrow.

Guess what folks… it’s going to be ok! The world will not end, good marketing lives on and, if anything, GDPR has given us and our industry a huge opportunity to be better at what we do!

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