Posted on June 12, 2019
When the General Data Protection Regulations went into effect in Europe in May of 2018 to protect personal data for individuals, many U.S. marketers gave them minimal attention, believing that the impact on their own companies would be limited. To some degree, this was true. U.S. marketers observed GDPR enforcement applied, first and foremost, to large and multi-national companies.
But most experts agree that stricter data protection laws are coming to the U.S. GDPR will likely be a template for legislators to force marketers to adhere to certain processes and procedures for collecting, using and storing personally identifiable information. And, if GDPR is any indication, the penalties for non-compliance will be severe (GDPR violations can carry fines of up to 4% of total corporate revenue). While such domestic regulation may not arrive in 2019, it will come eventually and even small B2B companies should be thinking about the infrastructure they will need to comply.
But this is the key for 2019: the impact is more about effectively engaging with customers than it is about complying with laws.
GDPR-type regulations in the U.S. would create an absolute opt-in requirement, where marketers would be forbidden to use personal information without the expressed consent of the individual. This could mean no emails, no phone calls, no direct mail – no use of data that can be linked to an individual – unless the individual has agreed to let you.
So, marketers will be forced to find ways to get their target audiences to truly opt-in. How? By creating and disseminating content and information that its audiences will 1) find, and 2) consider relevant, helpful or interesting enough to give their consent to receive. While this strategy has been part of our advice for several years now, it will likely become mandatory. In 2019, smart marketers will assess their current content marketing situation and give serious thought to what they need to do about it.
Those who do will discover that this is a real opportunity to grow their business. Those who don’t will find it harder to generate leads and drive revenue from both new and existing customers.