Why and How Digital Marketers Must Comply With the GDPR

Why and How Digital Marketers Must Comply With the GDPR?

November 23, 2020

You might have reached this article because you’re a digital marketer. Did I guess right? Okay! Perhaps several thoughts about the GDPR would be racing through your mind. You would want to find how GDPR impacts your marketing policies. Of course, you’d think whether it is really necessary to rethink your digital marketing strategies in order to comply with the GDPR. And above all, you’d want to know how to get compliant with the GDPR policies.

Stay cool! Let me get everything straight for you.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): In a nutshell

The European Union’s GDPR was implemented to protect the personal data and privacy of the EU residents. The personal data can be a user’s name, email, gender, age, IP address, location data, etc. The regulation enforces strict controls over the collection and usage of an individual’s private information over the web.

GDPR has been in place since May 25 2018, with the ultimate goal of minimizing the risk of online data breaches. And the penalties for not complying with the GDPR can cost up to €20 million or 4% of an organization’s global annual turnover of the previous fiscal year – whichever is higher.

Click here to know about the GDPR in detail.

The effects of GDPR on digital marketing

Being an online marketer, as you may well know, digital marketing is all about using search engines, emails, social media, websites or any other digital channels to engage with the existing and prospective customers.

Also, you might be aware that digital marketing is highly data-driven. In simple terms, the starting material of any marketing campaign is personal data. And the ultimate goal of your marketing strategies is to convert as many leads as possible into paying customers. So you might be tracking and gathering consumer data to stay informed of their choices and learn what’s important to them. Thus, you’d be able to promote or advertise your products or services to your audience based on their specific needs.

But what happens if this data collection is not somehow regulated? The personal data of customers might easily end up falling into the wrong hands. And consequently, your customers would lose trust in you and probably they won’t be willing to do business with you once again.

GDPR brought about a huge transition in the way online entrepreneurs and digital marketers operate. The legislation enforces a number of data security and privacy rules to ensure a regulatory environment for the flow of personal data within the EU. Under GDPR, marketers are required to obtain explicit consent from individuals to collect or process their data in any manner.

The below infographic by Digital Marketing Philippines, depicts how GDPR affects the digital marketing landscape.
Digital Marketing Philippines - Infographic - How GDPR will transform the digital marketing industry

Source: Digital Marketing Philippines

Analyzing GDPR from the marketers’ perspective

GDPR has certainly become a sore subject among digital marketers today. Most of them are pretty much afraid about whether the GDPR affects their marketing activities unfavourably.

So let’s see how GDPR affects the internet marketers.

The perceived impacts of GDPR on digital marketers

  • Enhanced cybersecurity — The GDPR has encouraged online businesses to improve their data privacy and security practices, reducing the risks of potential data breaches.
  • Increased customer trust — The increased security regulations may help digital marketers to build customer trust and loyalty naturally.
  • Competitive advantage — Marketers could add massive value to their business and set themselves apart from the competition by making their marketing and sales processes GDPR-compliant.
  • Higher confidence in marketing — Being compliant with the GDPR, marketers strongly believe that they engage in the digital channels responsibly and securely. Therefore, they could focus more on building new marketing strategies without worrying much about the data security challenges.
  • Personalized marketing campaigns — With increased privacy protection and control, GDPR allows personalized marketing that helps marketers enhance customer engagement and drive conversions quickly.
  • Effective email communication — As the GDPR standards require marketers to include opt-in and opt-out options and clarify their terms of consent, they’d be able to create an email marketing strategy that sets out real value to the recipient.
  • Efficient data management — The GDPR standards urge marketers to keep their customer database accurate and up-to-date.

“According to the SaleCycle stats, 84% of marketers perceive GDPR as a positive development.”

SaleCycle GDPR Infographic

Source: SaleCycle

The negative implications: What basically digital marketers don’t like about the GDPR?

  • Cost of GDPR compliance — To comply with the GDPR laws, marketers would require to spend a significant amount based on the types and quantity of personal data they process. The digital marketing agencies would need to pay for any data discovery tools they use, additional staffing, etc. Moreover, large organizations might have to bear the expense for assigning a data protection officer who takes legal responsibility to ensure the GDPR compliance.
  • Time consumed to implement GDPR — Complying with the GDPR can often be complex and challenging and therefore time-consuming. Marketers would have to spend considerable time and effort to redefine their marketing strategies as their brand grows.
  • Cost of non-compliance — The penalties for violating the GDPR can heavily cost up to €20 million or 4% of an organization’s global annual revenue for the preceding year.
  • Too much/stricter regulations — Sounds alarming? Indeed, some marketers find it hard to embrace the reality that the government is trying to regulate them; maybe because they think excessive regulation can stifle their creativity and innovation. This is mostly applicable to those marketers trying to reach just a few potential clients belonging to the EU.

There is no denying the fact that GDPR poses certain challenges in digital marketing. However, you cannot disregard the GDPR any longer; since it is not an option, but a government regulation. Moreover, it is highly essential to keep your customer data safe and secure.

So what next? Get GDPR-compliant and stay agile! But if you’re a budding digital marketer, you might want to know what basic steps should be taken in order to meet GDPR compliance. Let’s find it out here!

How digital marketers must comply with the GDPR?

If you are an internet marketer, you should find answers to the following questions in order to comply with the GDPR requirements.

  • Do you gather data from the EU residents? If not, are you planning to collect their data down the line?
  • What type of data is obtained?
  • How long would their data be retained?
  • With whom and why do you share the data?
  • Is the data shared with a third party? If yes, are they GDPR compliant?

Through analyzing the above checklist, you’d be able to get an outline of how to update your privacy policy to address the GDPR requirements. Apart from this, yet there are some other factors that you must consider.

So you’d like to see in a bit more detail, how digital marketers can achieve GDPR compliance.

1. Update your Privacy Policy for GDPR

Make sure you update your privacy policy with all the details that are relevant to your audience. You must inform them why you collect their personal data, how it is used, whom you share it with, how long it will be stored with you, etc.

2. Get explicit consent from your clients

If you collect customer data for more than multiple purposes, you must obtain consent for each purpose individually. For instance; if you want to obtain your clients’ personal information for two different objectives such as to send commercial marketing emails or to process their data for research purposes, you’re required to add separate checkboxes and specify the exact purposes to get their consent.

Also, get explicit consent from your clients before letting them click the submit button on your signup or any other contact forms.

3. Ensure your online advertising strategies operates in alignment with the GDPR
You might use third-party cookies for your remarketing or retargeting campaigns — to connect with people via ads, either personally or through third-party networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

To comply with the GDPR requirements, ensure you obtain the consent of individuals prior to using any types of cookies that collect their personal data for the purpose of marketing techniques like behavioral advertising.

4. Opt-in and opt-out options are required for email marketing

Under GDPR, you are allowed to market your brand or follow up with your clients via email only after gathering their consent to contact them. So make sure you create opt-in forms to obtain affirmative consent from individuals before adding them to your email marketing list.

And just like providing opt-in forms, be sure to include an easily accessible opt-out option into your email marketing campaign, allowing your audience to unsubscribe from your email database at any time.

The tools like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, MailerLite, etc. would let you get GDPR-compliant consent from your clients for your marketing campaigns.

5. Make your Google Analytics account GDPR-ready

You’d use blogging websites to create articles as part of your content marketing strategy. And if you employ Google Analytics with these websites, you’re actually capturing the IP address of your website visitors to track their behaviour and personal interests.

So to achieve GDPR compliance, you’re recommended to turn on IP anonymization in Google Analytics.

Or you can use cookie consent to comply with the GDPR for the use of cookies. You could add a cookie consent banner to your website in order to restrict the first-time visitors from accessing your site unless they give consent.

6. Get user consent before enabling comments

When engaging your audience on your websites or social media, make sure you get their consent before letting them post comments. Inform them whether your site will store their comments or personal details like name and IP address. Also, let them know if their comment is going to be visible to the general public.

7. All the third-party tools that you use must be GDPR compliant

If you use any plugins or other tools to simplify your marketing activities, ensure they comply with the GDPR policies. Also remember to mention that you use these tools in your privacy policy document.

8. Inform customers about any data breach

If you suspect any kind of personal data breach, you must report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the data subjects within 72 hours after having become aware of the breach.

9. Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if necessary

If your marketing involves collecting and processing a huge volume of customer data, you might have to assign a Data Protection Officer to monitor the data flows and maintain compliance with the GDPR.

Summing up

GDPR refers to a relevant set of regulations designed by the European Union to protect the online data privacy and security of their citizens. If you’re a digital marketer, you shouldn’t be judging GDPR based on its drawbacks. And don’t take it as a reason to stay non-compliant. In fact, the GDPR creates an opportunity for you to define your competitive edge.

So along with building your marketing campaigns, make sure you reshape your marketing tactics to comply with the GDPR requirements. Also, try to take appropriate measures to make data transparency a substantial part of your marketing activities. Hence, you’d be able to drive meaningful customer engagements and attract more valuable prospects to your brand.


This article is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute any form of legal advice. You shall seek a subject matter expert or your own attorney for any legal advice on making your digital marketing fully GDPR-compliant.

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