On the eve of GDPR, marketing and legal stars are aligning

by | May 24, 2018 | Public Relations

We’ve seen it coming for months now, and at last it has arrived. And whether your brand is prepared or not, consumers seem to be in agreement that GDPR has been a long time coming—even though most say they’re still happy to trade data for deals.

New research of both consumers and businesses, commissioned by engagement marketing software Marketo, has found that three-quarters (75 percent) of European consumers are concerned about the extent of personal information companies might have access to, and less than half (42 percent) trust that companies will use their personal information correctly.

However, with the GDPR enforcement deadline upon us, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers claim that they will be happy to share their data in exchange for deals and benefits—presenting an opportunity for marketers.

“The GDPR legislation presents marketers with one of those rare opportunities to build customer relationships by demonstrating trust and clarity,” said Jamie Anderson, EMEA president of Marketo, in a news release.

“Consumer dissatisfaction around how their data is used, and to what extent, is at an all-time high, according to our findings. To thrive in a post-GDPR world, marketers must demonstrate their understanding of this in the actions they take, through meaningful, personalized communications at every touchpoint,” he added.

In addition to their views about GDPR, the survey asked respondents how they felt about the long list of data-breach headlines over the last few years. More than three-quarters (76 percent) said they were concerned about how their personal data is stored and used. Just under three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers would like to receive regular communications about the personal data companies might hold. Yet, at the time the research was completed, only 28 percent of businesses claimed to be fully GDPR compliant.

On the eve of GDPR, marketing and legal stars are aligning

A tale of two halves

To understand how businesses are faring, the research also surveyed 300 businesses across the UK, France, and Germany and uncovered two distinct approaches to GDPR.

  • Marketing First: More than half of the companies surveyed (55 percent), identified themselves as taking a marketing first approach to GDPR, using compliance as an opportunity to better engage with customers or prospects through smarter marketing.
  • Legal First: The remaining 45 percent aligned themselves to taking a legal first approach, in doing what they need to be legally compliant with GDPR and subsequently using these requirements to dictate marketing strategy.

When comparing the two business approaches, the new research found:

  • Of the marketing first respondents, 34 percent have significantly redefined their priorities, compared to just 13 percent of legal first companies.
  • And almost half (49 percent) of the marketing first group has implemented new systems and marketing tools, compared with a third (33 percent) of those who identified as legal first.
  • Regardless of which camp they’re in, GDPR isn’t expected to impede business, as 96 percent of organizations are still optimistic about hitting their targets by year-end.

“Regardless of which side you sit, the ultimate drivers should always be your customer and delivering meaningful experiences that are founded on trust,” said Peter Bell, senior director of marketing at Marketo, in a news release. “It’s clear from this research that consumer trust is low but not unrecoverable. GDPR is designed to ensure your customers have more control over their personal data and how it’s used. Those businesses which proactively support that and use it as an opportunity to better engage with customers are those which will thrive in the coming years by creating lasting relationships.”

Further research findings include:

  • Post-GDPR, 40 percent of companies think reliance on customer consent will be the biggest challenge to achieving their marketing objectives.
  • More than three-quarters of consumers (79 percent) would stop dealing with a company if their personal data was misused.

London-based research agency Loudhouse, on behalf of Marketo, surveyed more than 3,000 consumers and 300 key marketing decision makers from a range of sectors, including manufacturing, IT, financial services, retail, and healthcare, across three territories (UK, Germany, and France) to compile these results. The research was conducted in April 2018.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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