Creating a GDPR compliant lead nurturing strategy

With the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) launched, organizations have been forced to change the way they store and use data held on European customers. Under the new regulation, any business found breaking GDPR will be subject to hefty fines of either up to 20 million euros or 4% of their annual revenues.

Despite the prospect of huge financial consequences, the implementation of the new regulation into business practices has been anything but clear cut for most; a report by Gartner claims that more than 50% of companies will not be GDPR compliant by the end of 2018.

One business practice that has been affected by the new data protection regulation is lead nurturing. Lead nurturing allows businesses to communicate and establish a relationship with potential customers to better convert leads into sales. Business automation and the use of softwares, such as CRM, have become commonplace for businesses of all levels in recent years. This is mainly due to the rise of cloud and affordable Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools. This has resulted in business lead nurturing becoming a finely-tuned automated process. However, under GDPR much of the previous uses of automated lead nurturing is limited or in some cases could be deemed illegal. Businesses will need to review their existing lead nurturing strategy to ensure they are GDPR compliant and avoid potential fines.

Protecting personal data

GDPR was launched on the 25th May 2018 by the European Parliament, aiming to protect online personal data of all citizens in its member states. Under GDPR, organizations that store information on EU citizens are obliged to inform them about what data they hold and what it’s used for. Businesses will now need to seek explicit consent before storing information on or contacting EU nationals. Individuals must also be given the opportunity to opt out of marketing from the organization and to have their contact data removed at their request.

GDPR stipulates that any data kept on EU nationals must stay within the bounds of the European Union. For businesses using SaaS products, this means ensuring that their suppliers are storing data on servers located in the European Union. Previous lead strategies that involve the buying of contact lists are now banned under the new GDPR regulations, as an organization buying a list does not have explicit consent to contact those individuals.  

New era of business transparency

The launch of GDPR has pushed organizations into a new era of business transparency. Businesses are now legally mandated to inform individuals what personal data they are storing on them and explicitly ask for their permission to use it. Instead of fighting the new data regulations, businesses can use this to their advantage to stay ahead.

In today’s competitive market, consumers hold the purchasing power over what organizations they buy their goods from. A transparent business model that clearly informs customers what personal data is held on them, what it’s used for, and how it’s kept safe will not only ensure GDPR compliance, but it will also create trust. Establishing a trusting relationship with potential clients can help increase the likelihood of a sale.

The new GDPR regulation will be an opportunity for a more dialogical relationship between organizations and individuals. By gaining explicit consent to contact an individual, businesses can start a conversation. Individuals actively agreeing to hear from an organization are more likely to want to engage with the business, which will help drive sales by establishing a relationship between the individual and the brand.

Inbound marketing focus

Inbound marketing attracts potential clients by providing them with content that is helpful and relevant to them. Adopting such a value driven approach in a business lead nurturing strategy means potential customers are more likely to be driven to engage with a business’ brand. Organizations that adopt an inbound marketing strategy, providing value to individuals, will find it easier to gain their consent to be contacted.

Businesses with a high quality inbound marketing strategy will attract leads whilst creating an interest around their products and services. Focusing on organic growth with the use of SEO and social media channels will drive the right type of leads to the business, attracting people that are genuinely interested in their type of products and services. Driving and engaging the right leads to the business will increase the likelihood of sales conversions.

GDPR compliant CRM

Implementing a secure GDPR compliant CRM system can help organizations centralize the personal data they store on individuals. A CRM system can be a useful tool for businesses to keep and manage a clean GDPR approved contact list, as this gives businesses an overview of the data they hold on individuals and to ensure that explicit consent has been obtained, making it easy to keep track of and inform individuals about what data the business holds on them. To increase the security of personal data, many CRM systems also allow organizations to set up role-based permissions. This limits employee’s access to personal data and gives businesses the option to only give full data access to relevant personnel.

GDPR means a change to how businesses manage and contact their sales leads. Organizations will now require explicit permission before contacting a potential customer within the European Union. To comply to the new data protection regulation, businesses need to adapt their old lead strategies and implement a more transparent and dialogical approach with potential buyers. Focusing on inbound marketing strategies to increase value can help drive engagement and convert sales. Using a secure GDPR compliant CRM system can assist in centralizing contact data and documenting consent, helping businesses to manage their leads in accordance with GDPR.

 

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Helen Armour

About the author…

Helen Armour is a creative marketing professional with extensive experience in both large and small businesses, B2B and B2C. CIM qualified, Helen is Marketing Manager at Really Simple Systems CRM and writes regularly on digital marketing, CRM and GDPR.

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Helen Armour