How GDPR Can Help Marketers Overcome Common Data Challenges

The challenges marketers face today regarding data have not changed. We still need to collect and leverage data to generate demand. GDPR forces companies to examine their approach to data collection and comply with the rules or suffer the consequences. Considering the privacy controversies currently surrounding Facebook and Google, one would think marketers would be obsessed with being compliant, but are they?

To assess, we must talk about data. My experience is in B2B, which typically involves less records, but is more complex due to longer buying cycles and multiple marketing channels. I come from a pre-CRM world in the ‘80s when it was just called database marketing (no sales). Today, the concept has expanded to include sales and marketing.

Whatever you call it, today’s CRM database must be centralized and deliver a single view of customers and prospects. Unfortunately, data is often siloed between marketing and sales, causing a real disconnect between these two departments. Here are four common data challenges that GDPR may help marketers address and achieve single-view nirvana.

1) Sales Resistance To Documenting Data

Keeping accurate records in the CRM system is a proverbial challenge because salespeople don’t believe it is their responsibility to enter sales data into the database that feeds into the CRM system. They are also notoriously lazy in this regard.

But GDPR threatens to hold companies with shoddy data practices accountable, so the problem can no longer be ignored. B2B companies would be wise to offer mobile apps to the sales team, so they can easily enter sales information that syncs automatically with the central CRM system.

2) Syncing Mobile And Internal Data

GDPR is an excellent excuse to spring clean and connect your data into a single view. Such a detox includes both contact data on internal systems, as well as data from all of the mobile devices used by sales executives to capture their new contacts. Mobile data is normally ignored, which can be disastrous from a compliance perspective.

3) Integration And Support Challenges

With more than 7,000 martech solutions available today, integration is a growing problem in B2B. It is often the result of implementing niche software that creates silos of information, whether that be website CMS, inquiry response bots, call center/ inside sales systems, marketing automation, CRM, etc. Data does not flow seamlessly between systems, resulting in mass duplication and no consistency between records. Ironically, integration software is so easy to install there is no reason why this part of the jigsaw would fail.

Nevertheless, highly specialized systems tend to create silos of data and can be very difficult to support because of a lack of skilled technologists. It is rare to find someone who is focused on integration, can create a single view of customers and provide intelligent dashboards that show end-to-end performance. This can become an IT nightmare that divides sales and marketing efforts.

4) GDPR Denial

Another issue is a prevailing sense that GDPR doesn’t really affect operations in the United States, whereas in Europe, it’s exactly the opposite. European companies are much more apt to heed the data collections regulations out of fear. Dramatic differences on either side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, few companies on either side are getting it right.

Despite all the media coverage about privacy issues and hacking leading up to last year’s May 25th GDPR deadline, the reality is not much has changed. The GDPR phenomenon had the same impact at the Y2K “Millennium Bug” scare in 1999. People got all hyped about, but on January 1, 2000, nothing really changed.

Embracing GDPR & Mindful Marketing GDPR offers a prime opportunity for marketers to rethink and refresh their data strategies. Many buyers are willing to share their data with companies to receive a better service, be rewarded for loyalty and be treated with respect, knowing their data is safe and secure. In fact, they believe they have a right to be remembered. It’s tedious and time consuming to be asked to complete the same forms for the same company you fly with each time, rent cars from or hotels you visit. Loyal consumers expect those entities to retain their data preferences, so that they can get a faster, more satisfying experience.

After years of building martech stacks to improve efficiency and reduce personnel, we have taken our eyes off of marketing’s goals: to support sales and create a positive customer experience. The reality is that marketing actually needs more brains and less technology. Sadly, more technology has dumbed us down. We desperately need best practices to deal with the increased complexity of tech stacks and unify sales and marketing to work together to generate revenue and create positive customer outcomes.

For more insights on modern marketing and the impact of GDPR, tune into Aberdeen’s podcast, “The Intelligent Business Show.” In episode 24, “Events: The Backwater of Marketing,” I talk with host Matt Grant about how to make event interactions more intelligent and personal.

Peter Gillett is CEO of Zuant and Marketpoint CRM. A serial entrepreneur, Peter drives product development and client roll-outs of Zuant, the company’s award-winning mobile lead capture app across U.S. corporations. A pioneer in database marketing since the late 1970s, he created the world’s first web-based CRM system, Marketpoint CRM, funded by Lucent Technologies in the 1990s. In 2010, Peter launched the first CRM applications for the iPad.