With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in place, businesses across the world are expected to comply with strict rules regarding the personal information of EU citizens. While the GDPR is intended to protect citizens of the EU, the regulations affect nearly everyone, even U.S. companies that don’t conduct international business.
Marketing automation software is designed to automate repetitive marketing tasks, centralize analytics reporting and provide control over data collection.
Most marketing automation platforms will be ideal for achieving GDPR compliance in a number of ways.
Manage Subscription Preferences
Under the GDPR, EU citizens need to provide explicit consent to receive any type of marketing communications, and they need to clearly agree to which types of communications they’re receiving. For example, if a web visitor downloaded a whitepaper and was added to the newsletter subscription list, this would be non-compliant. Without a centralized database of preferences, it would be impossible to keep track of which visitors had agreed to which subscriptions.
The process of managing subscription preferences can be automated with marketing automation software. Once a subscription preference center is built, website visitors and subscribers can manage their own preferences.
Track Permission Levels
EU citizens have rights regarding what personal data is collected – they can share a little or a lot of information about themselves based on their individual preferences and how this affects their experience with a particular brand or service. Tracking permission levels for potential customers without a centralized source of information would be extremely difficult.
For example, if some requests to change permission levels were in the inbox of customer support while others went to the webmaster’s email, and the only records of these requests were the emails received, it would be a significant challenge keeping track of all these requests. Marketing automation software not only centralizes this information, it can provide permissions information at an individual level and allow for simple edits.
Collect Only GDPR-Compliant Data
The GDPR does not state a specific length of time that companies can retain data on prospective customers, but it does say any personal information should only be kept for as long as it’s needed. This means that marketers need to be able to prove why they need every bit of data they’re retaining. It will be difficult to prove the necessity of prospects’ data if it’s not collected in a centralized source.
Marketing automation software gives you greater control over how data is collected. With more control over data collection, you can be confident your marketing efforts are GDPR-compliant by ensuring only GDPR-compliant data is collected in the first place, which also cuts down the time it takes to review information for compliance in the future.
As mentioned, the GDPR says data should only be kept for as long as it’s needed. If you want to retain prospective customers’ data indefinitely, you must have a sound reason for doing so. Otherwise, you need to delete data once it’s no longer useful. Marketing automation software makes this simple by organizing all the data that’s collected into a single location, and in some cases, allowing you to set an expiration date for the data you’ve collected.
Google Analytics, for example, introduced data retention settings not long before the GDPR took effect – if you weren’t aware of this then much of your historical website data has been deleted. Data retention is a key aspect of GDPR compliance and marketing automation software ensures the deletion of data won’t become a costly burden for your marketing operations.
GDPR Presents Several Marketing Opportunities
Marketing automation software can be a powerful tool for ensuring GDPR compliance, but it can also help you more effectively engage with prospects. Under the GDPR, the only people receiving marketing materials will be those who have explicitly asked to receive them. This will likely be far fewer recipients than before the GDPR, but these are the prospects that are most interested in your business and marketing automation software can help you build great relationships with these people.
Through marketing automation software, you can create custom content with personalized messaging, closely monitor the lead nurturing process, implement a lead scoring system for better lead handoffs to sales teams, and begin building relationships to turn prospects into customers.
Marketing automation software plays an important role in GDPR compliance. When managed properly, using these platforms not only helps achieve compliance but streamlines marketing operations and helps develop closer relationships with prospective and existing customers.