The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is going to make marketers earn their customer's attention in a way they've rarely had to before.
Companies will have to collect EU residents' consent to use personally identifiable information (PII)—such as email addresses, birth dates, government-issued identity numbers, credit card and bank account information, IP addresses, mobile device numbers, and biometrics—for explicit purposes.
No more mass emailing customers and prospects and leaving it up to them to opt out. You will need their express consent to email them discount offers, use their social media data, or deliver newsletters, among many other interactions.
Moreover, you will have to work just as hard to maintain the right to communicate in this fashion: GDPR mandates that customers be able to access and change their preferences at any time.
If you listen closely, you might hear the collective groan from marketers all over the world who do business in the EU. Mass email blasts and ubiquitous ads are easy tools to use; however, it's worthwhile to question their effectiveness. A major motivation behind the EU's and other nations' decisions to consider or adopt such legislation is consumers' growing desire for greater control over how brands connect with them digitally. This trend is evidenced by the rise of ad blocking and the increasing creepiness that results from careless data handling, particularly in an age of emerging IoT devices and services.
In the end, though, these new consent standards just force marketers to do what they need to be doing anyway: get to know their customers better, figure out what they want, and harness those desires for mutually beneficial outcomes.
Here are some ways to transform restrictive tools and processes, such as consent, paywalls, and gated content, into strategic customer-relationship opportunities.
1. Use a known need to ask for and deliver more