Commentary

Why GDPR Is An Opportunity To Make Customers Love You More

Anyone navigating privacy and permissioning as GDPR's May 2018 deadline draws nearer should take a look at The Forrester Privacy and GDPR Maturity Model report. In essence, the stance is that privacy is already a huge issue for consumers, and so being straight about what you do with personal data is not only a legal necessity but an opportunity to improve brand image.

The researchers say that a massive 47% of consumers are put off digital channels by privacy concerns. In fact, the most digitally savvy consumers -- which account for around a third of consumers -- will check a privacy statement one in every two times they make a purchase. Another third of consumers are unwilling to share personal data, because they are either nervous or hold a strong position on privacy. Only the final third of consumers, the "reckless rebels," give little thought to sharing personal data. The takeaway, then, is that privacy is a big deal to the majority of your customer base.

So it is little surprise that its research among senior marketers reveals three in four companies have set aside a million-dollar budget or more to be GDPR-compliant. However, it's a little surprising to see that only half listed GDPR compliance as a top priority. 

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As ever with a detailed report, there is a lot of reading -- but the main takeaway is that this is a big deal, not just for avoiding potential fines but also because privacy means a lot to consumers.

The top issue to guard against, Forrester urges, is opting for a quick-fix strategy to comply with the barest minimum standard in the hope that consumers will still be receptive. They won't.

Instead, the researchers urge marketers to embrace privacy and instill the highest possible standards in gathering, storing, protecting and using customer data because it's a so-called game-changer. This isn't just because it will help the CMO sleep at night. No, the researchers are adamant that respecting consumer privacy means those customers will respect you right back and you'll be able to do a lot more smart interpretation of information that has been willingly submitted to provide a better customer experience.

The ultimate takeaway is that consumers' eyes will be on businesses and respect will go to those organisations that go the extra mile to provide a respectful, safe customer relationship. The "race to the bottom" where a company does the very least it can on a shoestring budget is a very dangerous path to take, the researchers warn email marketers.

It's pretty clear, then, that if you embrace GDPR as an opportunity to deepen the permission levels with which you hold and interpret customer data with an improved service in mind, that can only be a win-win for both consumers and email marketers. But those million-dollar budgets -- ouch!

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