The Other GDPR: Growing Dynamic Personal Relationships

It has been just over a month since the Global Privacy Data Regulations (the #GDPR you are familiar with) passed in the EU and most of you will have received tens if not hundreds of emails informing you of changes in the privacy policy of whatever newsletter or company you have been following or subscribed to.

Some of them may have had the prescience to ask you to opt-in again, meeting the requirements of GDPR compliance. In other cases you may have been informed that their trusted [third party] advertising partners will also be sending you prized and valuable marketing materials as well. Ho hum.

The question that you and I should be asking ourselves is: Are they doing anything different collecting your data now compared to pre-GDPR? Is there something different happening here other than advertisers and marketers covering their collective asses so that they can continue sending the same one-size-fits-all “Dear [FIRST NAME]” messaging? What’s missing from this equation is the overwhelming lack of care in actually building a valuable and meaningful relationship with you, their consumer.

I think we all need to take a moment to stop and ask ourselves if what we’re doing with our marketing activities is really adding value to the end consumer. The information that they are freely providing to you is meant to be used to provide them with the value that they’ve asked you to provide them, right? A very circular argument, which is probably why most of us McMarketeers aren’t really paying attention to what people want and are just sending them stuff we think they want.


I argue that the time has come to give back to the consumer, use GDPR as a hard reset on how we engage with them and build trust with them by giving them actual value. You have had their PII (for those of you still wondering what this acronym means, it’s Personally Identifiable Information, yes, thank you acronym nitwits for yet another one!), their name and phone number, email, home address, family members, and other precious information to target them by.

They also have provided you with their preferences and interests in the form of direct communication with you (including ignoring your messaging) as well as through indirect means like providing access to their content subscriptions, work and activity geo-location, and more.

They are talking, the question is: Are you listening?

Unfortunately with your ‘updated privacy policy emails’, clearly not. Here’s a nice little example of what’s happened (source: Reddit):

Is it normal to lose 70% of Mailing List from GDPR? We have 9485 people in our mailing list which we’ve accumulated over MANY years. 2700 people have chosen to opt in to our GDPR email.

So nearly 30% have chosen to opt in. The other 70% have either not responded and therefore will get deleted or have chosen to opt out. This means we will lose a whopping 6785 people from our database.

Does this sound normal/correct?

For us at Beyond Intent GDPR is an opportunity to press ‘reset’ on how we connect with the end consumer. It’s about Growing Dynamic Personal Relationships that are unique to the individual and change over time as their needs and wants change.

Growing means actually building on and adding to, not just being stale and lazy and pressing send every week when the marketing team puts together their hodgepodge of one-size-fits-all marketing blurbs for everybody. People will tell you when they want something and will tell you when they don’t IF you give them the opportunity to do so in an easy way.

If you see your messaging not being engaged with, be it an online ad, an email, or other targeted marketing, you can first ask them if they’re still interested, or even go a step further and analyze your aggregate user data and then suggest that you will pause communication and check in with them at a later time. Grow your relationship by listening to what they want and stopping (and starting) based on when they want to talk to you.

Being Dynamic is using the tools that are available to you across most digital (and even analog) marketing platforms that let you create, test, and automate dynamic communications to your consumer. This means using rules to define what specific content elements are packaged together in a piece of communication automatically drawing from a pool of content (such as an XML feed, stored assets in the cloud, etc.) resulting in tailored communications for each consumer that change based on their behavior.

In digital media Google’s DoubleClick can do it using an unfortunately complicated spreadsheet-based solution, other more sophisticated platforms like Bonzai allow for #draganddrop selection of Weather, Geo-Location, Sports scores, and custom data feeds to power dynamic messaging in the platform. In Search Google Adwords has had dynamic capabilities since time immemorial (at least since the advent of Paid Search marketing). Platforms like Marketo and Hubspot have had this built in for years as well, however the intelligence behind the dynamic capability is fairly rudimentary and does require a healthy amount of time to get it right (There’s an idea for an AI solution! Oh yeah, Emarsys already does it!). You can even do this for printed direct mail and postcards!

Why would you want to do this?

For one thing you can save heaps of time testing message versions. The bigger opportunity is using various signals from users to personalise what they see, when they see it, and go beyond just chasing them with creepy product ads they either already bought or don’t want. Go beyond the norm and use some data analysis across your platforms and isolate patterns of engagement, then you can really get those dynamic relationships happening!

Being Personal is simple and many marketers get the basics right by changing the [FIRST NAME] and [LAST NAME] in messaging to reflect who the messaging is meant for, maybe a few other elements as well. Sadly this is just so 2000!

There are so many other things that we can do to personalize communication! We can start with understanding where that person is (work, school, home, shopping, or relaxing or doing something that calls for uninterrupted peace) and what device they are using (desktop, mobile, connected TV) to deliver OR NOT DELIVER relevant messaging to them. Use the data they freely share with us in the form of timestamps, geo-location, device IDs, and then the depths of content consumed, both where and when.

Have you considered asking what time of day or days of the week your consumers want to be contacted? What if you asked a consumer who showed interest in your brand how they want to be contacted? Have you tried? Unfortunately we’re now at a point where people are ignoring ads or even blocking them, so you may not have the chance to be polite and ask. What you can do is when you do have the conversation with them about storing their data, ask them if they’re willing to help you make sure you’re giving them what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. And if they say they don’t want it, listen to them and act accordingly!

Before they explicitly agree to receive your marketing in exchange for their PII, be smart and use available Intent data signals to deliver messaging when and where it makes sense. They tell us their interests every day of the week such as favourite sports teams and favourite foods, celebrity preferences and hobby interests. If you use the right technology to serve content (notice I didn’t say ads) where it is meaningful to them, it’s a great way to start a personal journey with them; show them that you actually understand who they are and what they’re about.

Relationships are not built overnight. They require time, nurturing, care, and affection to grow and blossom. Relationships are built on trust between and among those who share commonalities. Marketers forget that the people on the receiving end of their messaging, your messaging, are human beings who want to be liked and paid attention to. You cannot build a relationship if all you do is talk and never listen.

In a relationship we also learn to respect boundaries; we get to know when to talk, and when to be be quiet, when to push and when to pull, when to take a step back and when to run forward. We learn by paying attention to the signals they share, when they tell us that they need something or are asking for help.

Now is your chance to start rebuilding the existing relationships you have started, and to build new ones with people who are telling you and showing you they want to start a relationship with you.

The Global Data Privacy Regulations are definitely a challenge for many, and it is also equally a chance to change your perspective and look at it as an open doorway to new opportunities and to Grow Dynamic Personal Relationships with your consumers.

If you are willing to look at yourself in the mirror, sit on the receiving end of your marketing, and understand how to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with your branch, you will begin reaping the benefits of the strong lifetime relationships that will blossom with your customer base.

Now it’s your chance to make a difference. It isn’t often that we get the opportunity to hit the reset button.

Want to know more about how we do it? feel free to reach out and ask about #IntentMarketing and how we address our version of GDPR.

(originally published on LinkedIn on July 5th, 2018)

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