7 ways to build your audience in a GDPR world

August 31, 2018 Kristin Connell

By Chuck Leddy and Dragos Haluca

This is the fifth post in our GDPR series for B2B marketers – see post 1 “What it means for B2B marketers,” post 2 “Are B2B marketers ready?,” post 3 “A real opportunity for B2B marketers,” and post 4 “Will you be on the front foot or flat-footed in monitoring risks and opportunities?to get caught up.

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), came into effect across the EU, dramatically changing the rules for collecting, storing, and using consumer data. Just because you don’t market in Europe doesn’t mean you can safely ignore GDPR. California, for example, recently passed a new law with similarities to GDPR. Other states and countries will likely follow the general trend towards giving consumers more control over their data while limiting how companies can market to them.

Marketers must now gain consumer permission (i.e., positive opt-in) before marketing to them. Gone are the days of pre-checked boxes or consent requests buried within standard licensing agreements. GDPR compliance requires marketers to take more time and be more careful in gaining and maintaining consumer consent. No more marketing at or marketing to consumers: now you’ll market with a consumer’s permission.

You may justifiably be wondering how to build your audience and acquire new contacts after GDPR? Here’s a look at seven prospecting approaches, examining how GDPR impacts each:

  1. Social Selling

GDPR doesn’t impact your capacity to use social media channels to connect with prospects. Social media can offer you a more personalized approach to prospects, as Claire Kennedy explains in her SiriusDecisions blog post, Are You Ready to Sell in a GDPR World?: “social media is inherently personal. Receiving a Twitter notification or a comment on a LinkedIn post feels more intimate than finding a templated email in your inbox.”

However, if the conversation shifts outside social media, you’ll need to establish “a legitimate interest” in contacting those same prospects by email or phone. A generalized consent to contact them simply does not equate to specific consent to send them mass marketing campaigns, so be careful to seek explicit, specific consent and document it.

  1. Cold Calling

One of the most effective ways to build relationships with new prospects, cold calling doesn’t come under the GDPR and has thus been granted a new lease on life. While you’re on a cold call, ask the prospect if they’d like to receive newsletters. If they say yes, send them a link to a “manage my subscriptions” page where they can opt-in to specific news, content, and updates.

It can be challenging to document a prospect’s consent during a cold call, unless you record the call. To meet this challenge, you should send (and store in your CRM) a post-call, follow up email summarizing: (1) why you called, (2) what was agreed during the call, and (3) why you’re following up via email.

  1. Direct Mail

Like cold calling, this traditional marketing approach may be making a comeback under the GDPR. “Direct mail can help drive consumers to opt-in pages, especially when combined with a marketing automation platform,” says a recent Marketo blog post, How Direct Mail Automation Can Ease Your GDPR Transition, “you can set up a campaign that sends direct mail with a link to the opt-in form to customers and leads who have not yet opted in.” Leveraging automation for subsequent campaigns, you can then use direct mail to update consent when necessary, or try to convince consumers to renew consent after they’ve opted out.

  1. Networking

Conferences and events have long great places to meet prospects. In the past, this meant taking a prospect’s contact information off a business card and transferring it into your CRM system. Under the GDPR,  you can no longer use the prospect’s email address for marketing purposes unless they have explicitly opted-in to receive marketing emails. You can still send one-to-one emails and follow-ups with prospects who have given you their business cards, since “a legitimate interest” has already been established, but handing you a business card doesn’t represent the contact’s explicit opt-in for your marketing campaigns.

  1. Referrals from Existing Customer

One of the most effective ways to find new customers is to ask your existing customers for referrals or recommendations. Under GDPR, you can continue to call and email prospects based on referrals/recommendations from existing customers, so ask your existing customers to provide you with referrals.

Also, consider asking those existing customer to introduce you to the referral via email, explaining why he/she is making the referral.

  1. Through Your Website

If you’re using a web form to capture consumer information, now is the time to review the type of information you collect. GDPR requires you to legally justify the collection of personal data you capture from website visitors. So while asking for a prospect’s personal income and date of birth will help you identify and prioritize leads, make sure you can prove/document how and why you’re using that data. Otherwise, just focus on asking prospects for name, company and business email address.

Under the GDPR, you must be transparent about how and why you use a prospect’s data while giving them the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out accordingly (via a subscription management tool). For example, just because a prospect has entered their email address to sign up for your next webinar doesn’t mean they’re subscribing to all your mailing lists.

  1. Lists of Leads Purchased from 3rd Parties

This one’s tricky under GDPR. The prospect needs to (1) have consented to the transfer/sharing of their contact data with the 3rd party, and (2) given specific consent for you to contact them with marketing emails.

The GDPR also impacts purchased leads you already have. You’ll need to go back into your existing list and document the prospect’s consent from the third-party vendor (to share data with 3rd parties) and then gain their explicit opt-in for your marketing emails. Leveraging lists requires you to manage consent carefully, and at multiple levels.

The takeaway here is clear: in the new GDPR world, marketers need to be much more careful about gaining and keeping a prospect’s consent (i.e., specific opt-in) before marketing to them. The rules have changed, and you’ll also need new tools for GDPR compliance.

We at Sojourn Solutions provide your B2B marketing team with the support you need to monitor the activities of your GDPR solution, as well as manage analysis and reporting to ensure ongoing success. To learn more about GDPR Services that Sojourn Solutions provides, please contact us today.


Note: This blog post and the linked content, if any, is not intended to include, nor should be construed to include, any legal advice or business solution addressing the content, interpretation or application of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) generally or specifically to any client’s or potential client’s circumstances. Sojourn Solutions advises all parties to seek qualified legal counsel regarding the applicability of GDPR to their processing of any personal data, including and especially through any third-party products and/or services.

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