Whether it’s exchanging details for a loyalty card, banking online or signing up to social media accounts, many will readily hand data over without a thought to how it will be used, or stored.
This information is gold-dust for businesses and is regularly used to create “consumer profiles” for targeted adverts and promotions based on a consumer’s previous history with a brand.
But, from next year the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will change how businesses use their customers’ information, by creating new guidelines on how the data can be collected, used, and stored.
And while the general consensus seems to be that GDPR will make life harder for businesses, the new rules actually create new opportunities for businesses to create better personalised experiences for consumers.
GDPR is just best practice for data collection
The key components of GDPR create a series of protocols that businesses must adhere to when it comes to collecting and handling their customers’ data. The measures include asking customers for consent or permission to use personal data, making it possible for customers to transfer data between organisations and guaranteeing the “right to be forgotten”.
Essentially GDPR is formalising the principles of best practice for data usage. It does not stop businesses from being able to gather, use and store information, it just ensures that consumers are fully informed about what their data will be used for and how it will be kept safe.
It also gives them the option to have information deleted if they no longer want a particular brand to have it.
Making it worthwhile for a customer to give up their data
Giving consumers the right to have their data deleted should only serve to motivate businesses to make it worth a customer’s while to give up the information in the first place.
Having customers “opt-in” to sharing their data also gives businesses a better quality pool of leads with which they can target. Rather than sending promotions to people who have given their email without considering why, it is a fair assumption that consumers who have opted in to sharing their data have a genuine interest in the information they will receive.
This also makes it easier for businesses to create personalised and more targeted campaigns that will likely lead to better conversions.
Because customers also have to opt-in to receiving information in a certain format, like an email or direct promotion, the business has a better idea how to go about targeting that customer – rather than just spamming them with every promotion they come up with.
These new regulations will force businesses to be more creative with the content they produce and ultimately the brands that can do this the best will come out in front while the customer will be the big winner.
Alleviating data and privacy security concerns
While customers appear more than willing to hand over information without a second thought, research has found that two-thirds (67 per cent) actually harbour concerns about how their data is being used by brands.
This is one aspect of GDPR that could be tricky for businesses who are particularly weak when it comes to data protection, but for those who are able to demonstrate competency in this area, they will be more able to convince consumers to part with information.
The “privacy by design” policies in GDPR are much stricter than current data protections but being able to reassure customers that their data is as secure as possible will alleviate much of the reservations consumers have when it comes to parting with information – particularly personal or sensitive information.
GDPR certainly signals the end of “business as usual” when it comes to how businesses deal with information, but far from being a detriment it actually offers a new batch of opportunities to stand out from the competition and provide the kind of personalised serves that customers have come to expect.
David Duke is the chief marketing officer at e-commerce and digital marketing agency Visualsoft.