Now that the EU's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have gone into effect, how do you gather leads safely? Big names in tech like Google and Facebook have already racked up piles of complaints that could cost $9.3 billion in fines after only a few hours of the new law going into effect.
Despite email boxes full of new terms letters and pop-ups for data consent everywhere, there are many details that will have to be sorted out in the months and years ahead. In the meantime, here are some considerations in how the EU is enforcing its regulations and how to collect data safely.
The Reality of Compliance with EU Law
If you think these threats of fines don't apply to you, you could be right but only partially. Smaller companies, especially those who do not have a business presence in the EU, don't really have an oversight body that can assess and collect fines in the US. The FTC has been aggressive in filing more than 500 data privacy enforcement cases in recent years, but they are going after the big fish like Microsoft, Lenovo, and Alphabet. The real reason smaller companies benefit by complying with GDPR is to prevent data being stolen and opening your business up to other legal and financial risks.
On the plus side, many marketing experts feel that, because it restricts irresponsible mass-marketing tactics, GDPR might help marketers focus even more on connecting/engaging with their customers in a more personalized way.
New Lead Gen Policies
Forgetting is now a right, enshrined in EU law. Site visitors have a right to see what kind of data you have collected on them, how you are using it, and to request that you delete the data you've gathered on them. To reduce long-term risk, businesses should have some processes in place to delete old data from prospects and site visitors who have not interacted with the company. However, you will waste less time on unproductive leads and lists with contact info that is no longer valid. In fact, better leads all around will lead to better conversion rates, which is the entire point of collecting leads in the first place.
If a site visitor agrees to grant you permission to their data for a gated piece of content, don't assume that they want to receive newsletters. Each use of visitor data should be expressly spelled out. This should not be viewed as an additional roadblock that will scare away prospects, but as a better way to segment them based on their interests. If you don't have a specific use for their data in mind, don't collect it.
In the end, GDPR's new restrictions (and its hefty fines) serve as a reminder that companies and marketers don't own an individual's data; and that if businesses need to use it, they'll essentially be compelled to borrow it for just a limited amount of time -- and only with the person's explicit permission.
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