Last week, I received over 20 emails from companies asking if they could continue to send me email updates. And I’m willing to bet you had a similar experience. 

There’s a reason why you’ve been getting so many emails about changes to companies’ privacy policies or asking you to confirm your email subscription. It’s because the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018.

The GDPR is a new set of rules designed to give users more control over their personal information. This regulation aims to improve transparency, so that consumers know how businesses are collecting, using and processing their data. (For a full list of GDPR compliance requirements, view the official General Data Protection Regulation PDF.)

The new regulation will have a significant impact on your B2B digital marketing and how you collect personal data. It will enhance the protection of consumers’ data, making it more difficult for marketers to access their personal information. And the penalties for failing to comply with the GDPR are severe. Depending on which articles of the law you violate, you could face up to €20 million ($23.4 million approximately) in fines or 4% of your global annual revenue.

How does the GDPR affect my B2B digital marketing?

If your business isn’t located in the European Union (EU), you don’t have to worry about complying with the GDPR, right? Not true.

The GDPR not only applies to organizations operating within the EU, but also to any companies that collect or process the personal data of anyone in a EU country. That means if you’re running a B2B digital marketing campaign that targets individuals in the EU, or tracking the behavior of website visitors in the EU, you must ensure compliance with the GDPR.

Many businesses and marketers are not prepared to meet the GDPR requirements. In fact, a recent survey from Capgemini revealed that 85% of organizations in Europe and the United States are not ready for compliance. If you’re preparing your B2B business for GDPR compliance, here are four actionable steps to help ensure your success.

1. Perform a data audit

Data is the key to understanding your audience, their pain points, interests and motivations. But under the GDPR terms, organizations are only allowed to collect data that is relevant and serving an intended purpose.

A data audit is one of the most effective ways to identify areas of noncompliance. After conducting a thorough analysis of marketing and behavioral data, you should be able to answer these questions:

  • Where is the data being stored?
  • How long will the data be stored?
  • Where was the data collected?
  • Where does the data go when it leaves your organization?
  • What information is included?
  • Who has access to the data?

Keep a detailed record of all this information and your data collection methods. A thorough investigation of your data is essential to cleaning up your infrastructure and removing redundant or obsolete data. It helps you decide what information matters most to your B2B digital marketing.

2. Eliminate consent by default

The new regulation is changing the way B2B marketers ask for consent. Companies are no longer allowed to use pre-ticked boxes or any other type of consent by default in their marketing campaigns. The GDPR requires consent to be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous.”

Examples of GDPR-compliant consent include clicking an opt-in button or link online or responding to an email requesting consent. Requests for consent should always be clearly visible to the user.

3. Educate your team

Staff training is crucial to complying with GDPR requirements and avoiding hefty fines. Make sure that all employees understand the implications of not complying and the role they play in ensuring compliance. Teach all staff members the basics and provide more advanced training to the marketing and data analytics team members who handle data on a regular basis.

4. Secure your data

With data breaches and ransomware attacks on the rise, cyber security is becoming more important than ever. Protect your data with data backups, preventative monitoring, web/spam filters, encryption and employee awareness training. Reviewing permissions for data access will also help you prevent data loss, leakage and unauthorized access to personal data.

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Courtney Feairheller is a Digital Content Specialist at Schubert b2b. She graduated from Lafayette College with a B.A. in English. When she's not working, you can find her re-reading Harry Potter or taking way too many photos of her 4 cats and 3 dogs.

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