If you have an online database of customers, then you should have heard of GDPR by now. It’s all anyone’s been talking about for the last year! With that said, you can be forgiven for not knowing exactly what it is, or how it’s going to affect your business. We’re still explaining GDPR implications to some of our team. So, to make it easier for them to understand and to help answer any questions you may still have, we’ve compiled pretty much everything you need to know in one easy place. It’s here!

What is GDPR?

General Data Protection Regulation. Four little words that have companies across Europe, and the wider world, quaking in their boots. GDPR was agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council in April 2016. It replaces the Data Protections Directive 95/46/ec and will be the main law dictating how companies must store and protect EU citizens’ personal data.

MSA-blogpost_GDPR What does GDPR mean for your business?

In a nutshell, after GDPR comes into effect, people will have to opt in to receiving any kind of contact from your company. The new regulations also require companies to protect their databases’ personal data much more.  It takes a broad view of what constitutes ‘personal data’, IP addresses and cookie data will also need the same amount of protection as people’s names and national insurance numbers. All of the data types below are included in the GDPR, let us know many apply to you.

  • Basic identity information: names, addresses, ID numbers, etc.
  • Web data: location, IP addresses, cookie data and RFID tags
  • Racial or ethnic data
  • Sexual orientation
  • Health and genetic data
  • Political opinions

Furthermore, it’s not just as simple as getting permission, once. The GDPR also stipulates that data can only be held onto, and used for, the exact purpose that the customer agreed to. This means that you can’t restrict information based solely on a customer having to agree to receive all your marketing efforts. Beyond this, if the customer doesn’t actively agree to be contacted about offers/information other than the service they’re registering for, you can’t get in touch with them. If you do, there are hefty penalties that can, and will, be applied.

Cue scary music and chills running down the spine of many a business owner out there.

When does it come into effect?

That bit is simple. 25th May 2018.

What does it mean for sales processes?

Well… it means no more cold calls, no more cold emails, no spam without permission. For companies who rely on having hundreds of cold calls sent out and sending thousands of unsolicited emails each day, this is going to be an issue. But all problems have upsides, and often, they even have solution. So long as you’re willing to learn and adapt, GDPR can be a good thing, honest! The regulations are going to mean that the leads you do have will automatically be ‘more qualified’ leads, you’re just going to have to pursue other ways of acquiring them.

What happens if GDPR is violated?

Of course, mistakes are going to occur, and there are first warnings, but be careful! Repeated or large violations can lead to exceptionally large penalties — up to €20million or 4% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover. 52% of US companies expect to be affected by this, so if you’re concerned, you’re not alone. The important thing to focus on is what you can do to generate leads in a GDPR compliant way.

What other Lead Generation options are out there?

As we’ve already said, GDPR means that the leads you do get are always somewhere towards being warm. Lead generation can come from paid or organic means, most likely, you’ll be using a mix of both. Let’s outline just a few of options that are open to you — these are a few of the tactics we employ here at My Social Agency, it’s by no way an exhaustive list. You may have other routes you want to pursue, and so long as they’re GDPR compliant, go for it! If you need a bit of help with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Go Inbound

Inbound marketing isn’t a new thing, but still not as widely practised as it should be. It’s a big part of how we do things here at My Social Agency. This marketing model flips the cold call process entirely, and leads your potential customers to contact you rather than the other way around. It’s really quite wonderful. So, how do you apply this methodology to your business?

Side note. We’re not going to be introducing the entirety of what Inbound Marketing is, here. It’s at least two articles all on its own, and today, we’re just going to stick to how to use Inbound to get you leads!

First things first

Provide value before you ever ask for something in return. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the form of a helpful blog, vibrant infographic, or as a downloadable tool — give first, ask second. In fact, over the course of a single purchase, your customer is likely to require all of the above.

Inbound preaches that there are 3 stages every potential customer goes through when buying any product or service. Those stages are:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

The types of content you distribute should be targeted at each of these stages. For example, if a customer is trying to plan a party, at the awareness stage they may search:

“how do I plan a party?”

They’re aware of their problem, and are looking for a solution to their overall issue. They’re not focussed on fine details yet. So you might have a blog titled in the almost the exact same words (e.g. How to Plan a Party). This content would probably include a list of ‘to do’s’ including: buying food, putting up decorations, etc. When they have a complete list of things they need to do, they’ll start looking for products to meet their needs. That puts them into the consideration stage.

The consideration stage will lead customers to look for things like party supplies, and they’ll begin to weigh up their options. They’re looking for the best deal available, just one price check isn’t enough. At this point, you should be distributing content such as contact forms and discounts (placed behind landing pages to gather data).

Finally, when the customer is ready to make a purchase, you should still be distributing content to them. This should be things like ‘thank you’ pages, and emails asking for reviews, with social sharing buttons attached. Yes, this counts as content, and it matters because it rounds out the whole experience!

Be prepared to pay

It would be lovely to say that organic work will get you all the leads you need, and after an extended period of time hopefully it will. Until then, you’re going to need to pay for at least some of your leads. So, consider PPC.

PPC (Pay Per Click) ads are everywhere, and for good reason. They are one of the most effective ways to get the audience you need, which will become the leads you crave. The true beauty of PPC lies in your ability to be incredibly specific about who you’re targeting. You’re paying for your leads, but you are a lot more certain that they’ll be the right leads.

Facebook advertising is a prime example of fantastic PPC in action. There, not only can you choose what age, gender and location you’re targeting, you can also determine what purchase behaviours your audience should be exhibiting. You can also choose lookalike audiences so that you are targeting the same groups as your competitors, should you wish to do so.

These ads are easy to set up, and can be set to roll out for as long, or as little amount of time and money as you’d like. The total cost of setting up your ad and its budget for a month is likely to be less than you’d spend in man hours cold calling people for a week. Your ROI will almost certainly be higher too!

Keep calm, and carry on

The GDPR is not the end of the world, it’s not even the end of most businesses. You just have to be willing to adapt. We get it, change can be scary, but this will lead to happier customers in the long run. Be honest, isn’t that what we all want?

For more tips, tricks and guidance take a look at some of our other blogs which cover your advertising options on Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter. Or, if you want to talk to MSA about the services we can provide you with, get in touch now! We don’t bite, honest.