What happened after GDPR?

/ 1 October 2019

How are marketers collecting prospect data?

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was brought into legislation by the EU in May 2018, and fundamentally reshaped the way data is handled across all sectors, from banking to healthcare and beyond.  From a marketing perspective, it meant that no organisation could collect data from a potential customer without their explicit consent. In practice, that meant a requirement for someone to ‘opt-in’ to receive marketing materials such as emails, rather than the sender being able to assume that everyone on the database was fair game.

The effect of GDPR has been profound. Databases have been shredded, or at the very least every database entry has needed to be painstakingly verified as ‘double opt-in’ to ensure compliance, or removed as default.

From the consumer’s perspective, the GDPR has been heaven-sent. It’s now easy to unsubscribe from annoying mailing lists that acquired your details in an underhand way in the first place. We’re living in the ‘age of the customer’, as Forrester describes it, and which Forrester analyst Rusty Warner described in our video interview. Of course, there are still companies out there who ride rough-shod over the new legislation, particularly US organisations who think they are exempt, not realising that the GDPR extends to anyone who conducts business in the EU.

The fact is, though, that the effect of the GDPR is not just a reflection of modern-day concerns about privacy. Consumer buying patterns have been slowly changing for a long time. The company you are considering buying from – whether it’s a business software solution or an eco-washing powder – is probably the last place you’ll visit when you’re making your decision. More likely, you’ll talk to peers, influencers, media, online forums, etc, to start forming your opinion. In the B2B world, it’s well documented that buyers don’t talk to a vendor until they are 70 or 80% of the way through their decision-making journey.

At the sharp end, that means nobody likes a cold call from a salesperson. Nobody particularly wants to commit themselves to weekly, or bi-weekly, or monthly email blasts from a vendor either. And that means when you see a form on a website asking for your email address, or more – whether or not they give you option to ‘opt in’ – you’re reluctant to fill it in. Marketers, then, are finding it harder and harder to find ways of encouraging potential buyers to provide any personal information. And without that, how do you market to them?

What’s emerging is that progressive companies are finding new ways of bringing prospects into their ecosystem, by offering more of a two-way exchange of value. Enter ‘invitational marketing’, as described by our CEO David Eldridge in his 4 predictions for 2019 blog. At 3radical, for example, we invite people to experience our technology as a way of exploring its potential value, and the more they engage with it, the more content we provide them, and the more information we request. And the more we’re able to profile them, the more accurately we target the information we expose them to.

Interactive chatbots are also emerging as an interesting innovation to motivate people to allow themselves to be progressively profiled. No question, forms are on the way out.

In the aftermath of GDPR, then, we’ve got a perfect storm of privacy-driven legislation and a general consumer fatigue of filling in forms on websites and risking being ‘marketed at’. But there are also conundrums within this framework, one of which we’ve just highlighted in our Gaming Industry Report. The Gambling Commission (TGC) is obliging operators to ensure they know about the people who are playing on their platforms, so as to be able to spot problem gamblers and help them. Obviously, this goes against the grain of the trends I’ve just been describing. Does an online gambler want to be monitored? Do they want the operator to know who they are?

The challenge for the operators, then, is first to create player loyalty, so people become repeat visitors. And they’re increasingly doing this by gamifying the user experience, providing rewards and incentives for repeat play. And second, of course, they have to use that data in real-time to spot problem gamblers and make sure those people don’t get into trouble. It’s an interesting example of a vendor needing customer information so they can act responsibly in that person’s interests, not just sell them more stuff.

To read the full Gaming Industry Report click here:

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