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U.S. Marketers in Europe Wrestle GDPR Data Compliance

AccuList USA supplies data and direct marketing services to organizations with international as well as domestic reach. Starting this May, any U.S. marketer targeting actual or potential customers in the European Union (EU) countries must navigate a changed data landscape thanks to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It doesn’t matter if the brand, marketer or data processor is based in the U.S.; strict compliance is mandatory. And shrugging off new data rules is a very costly mistake. Noncompliance can mean a fine equal to 4% of global annual revenue!

GDPR Seeks to Protect Personal Data

The intended purpose of the regulation is protection of non-anonymized personal data, and compliance is required of any company (or organization) that stores or processes that personal information about individuals (“data subjects”), who are defined as European citizens residing in an EU state. The protected personal data includes:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • IP address and cookies
  • Racial identity
  • Religion and religious affiliation
  • Health and genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Sexual orientation and gender preference
Individuals Have New Data Rights

GDPR’s regulated “data controllers,” who determine data processing, or “data processors,” who handle data on behalf of data controllers, must respect key rights with regard to personal information. For example, there is an individual’s right to access, to knowing what personal data has been collected and how that data has been processed. There is a right to accuracy, and restriction of data processing in the case of inaccuracy. There is a right to “freely given” and “explicit” consent for processing and storage of personal data. Plus, consent may not be regarded as “freely given” where performance of a contract is made conditional on consent, or is unnecessary to performance of a contract. The data subject also has the right to data portability, meaning the ability to request and receive personal data in a format easily transferred to another data controller. Finally, there is erasure or “a right to be forgotten,” which allows individuals to withdraw their consent for data use or storage and demand that personal data be erased and no longer processed. Not sure it applies to you, direct marketer? Consider this GDPR wording: “Where personal data are processed for the purposes of direct marketing, the data subject should have the right to object to such processing, including profiling to the extent that it is related to such direct marketing, whether with regard to initial or further processing, at any time and free of charge.”

How Are U.S. Brands Handling GDPR?

Obviously, GDPR has big impacts on business strategies in the European market. For one thing, if you are handling personal data on a large scale or processing particularly sensitive data (such as health, race and religion), GDPR may require you to designate a specialized Data Protection Officer (DPO) to report to senior management. In terms of strategic response to the regulation, 64% of executives at U.S. corporations reported that their top strategy for reducing GDPR exposure is centralization of data centers in Europe, according to a report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Just over half (54%) told PwC they plan to anonymize European personal data to reduce exposure. A significant minority are even cutting European market efforts, with 32% of respondents planning to reduce their presence in Europe, and 26% intending to completely exit the EU market.

For a definitive guide to GDPR and explanations of key terms, see this Direct Marketing News article.

 

Data & Content Are Keys to Profitable Audience Building

After long experience supporting publishers and media owners in circulation/audience growth, AccuList USA can affirm that, in the age of big data and exploding digital content, targeted data quality and database management are more essential than ever to profitable audience development.

It’s All in the Data

A recent Marketo blog post backs up that assertion with their advice. Demographics and firmographics are a key starting point, but now media owners also can mine transactional data, behavioral data, and psychographics/interests across channels, the post notes. Smart use of first-, second- and third-party data allows for tailored content, offers and channel targeting. As the Marketo article explains, “For example, you may know that a reader is a part of a cohort that is female, between 18-35 years old, with a household income between $64-96K….But what could you do–in terms of engagement–if you learn through her content consumption patterns that she’s interested in football, responds to sponsored content from travel brands, and mostly responds to content that’s shared on Facebook?”

And Data Management

Yet more data from multiple sources–web, print, mail, e-mail, social media–also presents challenges, and Marketo cites Folio’s recent survey of publishing leaders, which found 71% citing data management as a top priority for creating and monetizing media products. The solution is a single hub for audience data and automated cross-channel processing in real-time, the post advises. With a complete data profile of the audience, the focus can turn to delivering the right message at the right time to the right target. And we would add that an effective database will require strategies and support for data hygiene, database appending, analytics, and segmentation as well as automated triggering of messages across channels. Automation doesn’t apply only to digital messaging, by the way; marketers can capitalize on direct mail’s top response and brand engagement with automated mail triggering based on digital activity.

Commitment to Content

In publication/media marketing even more than other brand marketing, content counts. Faced with ever-growing digital content noise, media owners must work even harder to deliver content that interests and engages the target audience. To that end, a helpful Content Marketing Institute article by Neil Patel recently listed four common mistakes. No. 1 is offering content of more interest to the brand/publisher (and its advertisers/partners) than to the audience. Only audience-centric content builds audience. No. 2 is to focus only on selling in marketing messages, especially if poorly targeted. The long-term value of authenticity and relationship building suffers when the sales pitch is obvious and not personalized. No. 3 is an SEO addiction to the point of stuffing keyword phrases and irrelevant links into content, which can turn off and confuse readers and even earn search engine penalties. And No. 4 is an obsession with content quantity over quality. Simply delivering more content more often than competitors, especially if it is unwanted, sloppy and self-serving, is likely to turn off audiences. For good content marketing examples, go to Patel’s content marketing article.

Study: Brands Fail to Recognize Customers Across Channels

Just 9% of marketers say they can consistently recognize customers across media channels, according to the MediaPost report on a new white paper published by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). The study, conducted by Winterberry Group, is based on interviews with marketers from about 120 organizations.

Marketing to Devices, Not People

Per the MediaPost story, the study did find that companies have improved how they provide the same brand experience across channels, with slightly more than 77% of participants claiming to coordinate the delivery of content across all the media channels extremely well, fairly well or to some extent. But since most companies are marketing to devices not people, the challenge has been recognizing the same customers as they cross devices, for example going from search to catalog, or from mobile to in-store. Companies do realize that there is a problem per the survey, with some 72% of those participating identifying audience recognition as a “moderate” or higher priority.

The Need for Data Management

And when asked what would help to advance their organization’s efforts to better recognize addressable audiences across marketing media, better aggregation and management of data, cited by nearly 48% of marketers, led the top five solutions. Better integration of existing marketing technology followed as a solution for 39.5%; better systems and processes to connect audience profiles was listed by 38.4%; more first party data was the choice of 33.7%; and higher quality first-party data was named by 26.7%. Given those statistics, it’s not surprising that AccuList USA has seen growing interest in its data services, including customer database development, hygiene and analytics.

For more statistics from the study and for a link to download a free white paper copy, go to the MediaPost article at http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/289223/brands-cannot-recognize-their-omnichannel-customer.html