GDPR Ready?

No more than best practice for data handling, being GDPR compliant provides an opportunity for more efficient marketing to truly engaged audiences, says Kevin Horler

Pic: Getty Images

What is GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU). The GDPR sets out the principles for data management and the rights of the individual, while also imposing fines.

The General Data Protection Regulation covers all companies that deal with the data of EU citizens and will come into effect across the EU on 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed its intention to bring GDPR into UK law, ensuring the country’s data protection framework is “suitable for our new digital age, allowing citizens to better control their data” after Brexit.

In the world of outdoor hospitality we still need to capture and use data; we need it to generate sales leads for our events, products and services. However, it’s not fun, it’s not exciting and it certainly isn’t glamorous, but GDPR may be just what you need to make your digital marketing incredibly effective.

Data drives most businesses – data about customers, delegates, visitors, exhibitors, suppliers, sponsors; the list is almost endless. We have been capturing, storing and using data since spreadsheets were invented, and earlier. They have allowed us to sort and arrange detailed information to suit our marketing and administrative purposes. However, how we collect, store and use this information is all set to change under GDPR.

Marketing your outdoor business or any product and service that supports it to both the general public and within the industry will have to change. We have heard people say that the authorities will not be interested in seeking out and challenging companies in certain industries, ones that cannot withstand the huge potential fines imposed for transgressions. Maybe, maybe not.

We have a slightly different view. There is no indication, available at the time of writing this piece, as to how many complaints may trigger an investigation and subsequent prosecutions. It may be that just a single complaint will be sufficient, it may need more. The key question to be asked is why take the risk when there really is no reason to infringe the regulations?

Permission based marketing has been around for some time, its principles and processes are already very close to those required under GDPR. They sit closely alongside content marketing, SEO and inbound marketing, all of which are designed to bring an audience to you, and to enthusiastically give their permission for you to market to them. It requires a shift in thinking from the usual email blasts and telemarketing approach, the effectiveness of which has dropped dramatically as audience behaviour has evolved.

The days of the stellar sized database is over, contacts within a databases will have to confirm their willingness to receive marketing material – so the attrition rates will be high – but those that do confirm will be a much more engaged audience. Every contact on your database will have gone through a second stage of authentication and by doing so they will have demonstrated a closer affinity to the proposition you are presenting.

Further down the marketing pipeline this means that there should be less wastage, the recipients will be happy to receive the material (it should be stressed here that the quality of that material needs to be consistently high and appropriate, otherwise the audience may choose to exercise their right to be forgotten), engagement levels should increase, and conversion rates should improve. If you take a moment to think carefully about this, it really is just common sense. The contacts have made the decision that they want your information, they have been self selected, and they are an eager recipient.

The challenge for any marketer is to change the direction of how marketing is currently undertaken, and that will be a tough job for industries that are comfortable marketing in volume to large databases. Those organisers, venues and suppliers that are fleet of foot, that can adapt to the new rules under GDPR, are most likely to see the rewards. GDPR need not be seen as a problem for marketers in the outdoor hospitality industry as a whole, it should be seen as an opportunity to really prove our worth.

This is the opportunity to refine and embed the very best principles into your marketing.

Kevin Horler is project director of digital marketing agency Vivid Fish. Formed in 1997, Vivid Fish is an eight person team consisting of highly skilled inbound marketers and programmers. Vividfish is dedicated to creating digital marketing campaigns that are flexible, efficient and offer a great return.

FREE GDPR GUIDEKevin has been immersed in GDPR for the past 12 months and has helped create a basic guide to GDPR compliant marketing. To download your guide, visit

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