Personal data, according to The Economist magazine, is the world’s most valuable resource as it informs how so many companies communicate with their customers. Owing to this, it is vital that personal data remains protected, even when technology is advancing at a rapid rate. This is why the General Data Protection Regulation will come into force in May 2018.

Existing privacy laws are outdated and do not take into account smartphones, social media and the digital era. The GDPR will revolutionise this. As the biggest shakeup in customer data in over a decade is about to come into force, what will it mean for digital marketers?

Privacy by Design

The GDPR means that companies must protect the name, email address and personal details of their customers including their IP address. Having redefined personal data to meet the digital era, more of our personal information is now protected.

It is now a legal requirement for privacy settings to be built into digital products and in turn, customers must have to give consent to be contacted. This must be a clear and deliberate choice, not just a pre-ticked box. Whilst this means bad news for email marketing campaigns, it will give Marketers the opportunity to utilise other forms of marketing such as social media rather than trying to reach new audiences via email.

Data Custodianship

From now on, with the GDPR, organizations will be asked to justify any information that they collect so Marketers will no longer be able to collect information just in case they need it later on. Similarly, data can only be stored for as long as it is needed, then it must be destroyed. Thus, Marketers must have a clear idea of what information they need from their customers so that they can be appropriate, relevant and meaningful when contacting them.

Data Access

One of the biggest features of the GDPR is that it gives individuals more control over how their data is collected. The right to be forgotten means that users can request that their data is deleted from an organizations records.

Whilst these changes to data protection law may seem a little daunting to Marketers, it does have many positives. For example, having customers opt into receiving information means that your email marketing campaigns are targeting the individuals that wish to read them. Having good quality personal data from trusted sources has a positive impact on campaign response, therefore these new rules should see engagement soar.

92% of consumers cite data security and privacy as a concern whilst 57% do not trust that brands will use their data responsibly. Having stricter regulations when it comes to personal data will result in greater trust and a stronger relationship between your marketing agency and its customers.

This is an exciting time for marketers as it means that we can be much more creative in our approach to digital marketing. From creating e-books and PDF’s which require email registration for access to website pop-ups, this is the time for Marketers to evaluate the way in which they collect data to ensure a guaranteed list of interested and targeted readers of their campaigns.

It is crucial, however, that Marketers audit their existing data lists before 2018. Up to 75% of marketing databases will become obsolete by 25th May 2018 as only 25% of existing customer data meets GDPR requirements. You should remove anyone from your emailing list that isn’t recorded as opting into your campaign and in future ensure you have proof of their subscription.