Known Marketing in the Age of GDPR

October 2, 2018 Brent Mackay

This Sigstr-authored post was originally published on Target Marketing.


The long awaited May 25 enforcement date for GDPR has come and gone and the digital marketing world didn’t come to a grinding halt as some speculated. While marketers didn’t stop marketing, the landscape has changed — collecting any and all user data and storing it indefinitely is no longer permitted and can carry some hefty fines if companies continue these practices.

GDPR has presented challenges for companies by forcing them to trade development cycles of shiny new features for data management and GDPR features, but the tradeoff is worthwhile (and a competitive advantage) in the long term.

For those who think that new privacy and data laws won’t impact them, that is very likely to change.

California is already working on implementing new regulations around data privacy, and the rest of the U.S. will be likely to follow.

What does this all mean for marketers? After many companies sent out a re-opt in campaign and updated cookie policies, they are left with a smaller list of leads and less raw-data to manage.

Marketing's Continued Challenge

Leadership still has the expectation that the marketing department will continue to produce valuable leads, so what can you do?

It’s important to first note that it is ok to still collect user data, as long as it is done in a transparent manner, is documented, and can be actively managed or deleted. Knowing the personas of the people in your lead pipeline and serving personalized and valuable content is already the way the industry is trending. This poses another challenge of understanding how to make the most of the data that you already have.

When recently speaking to some marketers at enterprise-level companies, the common theme of leveraging relationships in the sales pipeline came up. Leveraging relationships isn’t something new by any means, but giving marketers insight into relationships is where there is an opportunity.

Enter the Known Marketing Strategy

Pursuing a strategy of “known marketing” is not only a best practice from a GDPR perspective, it’s a best practice from a revenue perspective.

What most companies don’t know is the amount of untapped, owned data that they sit on — existing personal relationships across the company. Being able to map all the known relationships throughout a company’s employee-base and not just the CRM or MAP activity of your audience is a vital step in building your brands defense of GDPR practices.

There are several tools on the market that enable both marketing, and security and compliance departments to analyze the communications that can instantiate opt-in compliance. Everyone knows that healthy relationships are based on communication, and the ability to measure relationships through company-wide one-to-one communication, and not just the one-to-many communications so many marketers are familiar with, allows them to best understand their true, known audience.

What Can Known Marketing Do?

If leveraged properly, known marketing can help marketers and sales leaders predict which leads will convert into customers.

While many practitioners perceived GDPR compliance to be a database-demolishing hassle, there’s an abundance of upside. For a long time, marketers have employed practices to flood their funnels with volumes of unknown and ambiguously acquired personal records. That practice has led us to a world where fewer than one percent of leads become customers, prompting sales and marketing teams to waste cycles on nurturing leads that will not only never become customers, but compromise personal data compliance.

GDPR should be seen as a welcome catalyst to encourage teams to focus on known marketing. That is, identifying the accounts and contacts that are most important to a brand and are actively engaged with your company and its employees. The data around B2B acquisition metrics are pointing sharply away from the “spray-and-pray” inbound practices, towards a new focus.

Whether you call it account-based marketing (ABM), relationship-marketing, or simply business as usual, GDPR and the changes to marketing that followed are an appropriate response to the spammy practices that weren’t doing marketers any favors anyway.

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