GDPR – Is data collection now like mining Bitcoin?

Anyone with an email inbox will have had the same old messages over the past few months:

‘Please give us your consent so that we can continue to email you things’

As appetising offers go, it’s some way down the list. In an age where most website users can get most of what they want for free, the new rules on GDPR are forcing lots of businesses to think differently. The focus of this blog is, how we can continue to gather and use data now that the conversation with customers and prospects has changed.


Tip 1: Be realistic over the value of your content

We spoke to the Marketing Director of an international B2B organisation earlier this year about this very subject. Here is a rough (very rough) transcript of the conversation:

MD: ‘We want to capture email addresses from people who download our whitepaper’

Me (Adrian): ‘What is in the whitepaper? Is it full of statistics and insights? Is it unique?’

MD: ‘No. Its opinion pieces from our team. We didn’t have time to do any data led insight’

Me: ‘What is the whitepaper supposed to do?’

MD: ‘Get clients to contact us’

Me: ‘Is there any specific learnings for the user which they can use to do their job better?’

MD: ‘No’

Me: ‘So, without being mean, how is the user giving their contact details a fair exchange’

MD: ‘It took us over 100 hours and several thousands of pounds to produce this whitepaper. It was expensive and therefore it is valuable.’

It won’t surprise you that we didn’t end up working with this client. Culturally we were not aligned. If you’re going to create gated content which captures email addresses or anything else for that matter, there needs to be something really valuable behind the data capture.

Also… spoiler alert… 65-page whitepapers are much less effective than 10-minute webinars. And they’re much cheaper to produce.


Tip 2: Stop always asking for email addresses

This is often a problem which stems from CRM which needs an email address to create a new customer or prospect record.

What we have found is that email was already a relatively ineffective means of communication even before GDPR turned getting them into a process comparable to mining for Bitcoins.

Why do you even want their email? To put them into a broadcast list when you know that increasingly the only way to prompt email response is by tailoring experiences from the get-go?

We are surprised that even in the B2C space people are prioritising capturing email over generating social connections. Social amplification offers more possibilities. If you offered most Marketing Directors 10,000 followers or 10,000 email addresses most of them would take the social followers.

So rather than capturing email addresses consider whether social sharing (with a planned follow up activity) could deliver a better result.


Tip 3: Know where you have the authority to talk about stuff


The digital industry is terrible at breaking this rule.

Yes, there is a certain irony in an agency talking about data gathering tips in a post GDPR world, but we are infinitely more qualified than some of the agencies professing to know what all the trends in digital tech are for 2019. We have GDPR conversations with our clients at least once every day.

Econsultancy, Smart Insights, Marketing Week, Et Al have a far bigger pool of inspiration to draw from in order to answer those ‘state of the world today’ questions. This doesn’t mean that agencies can’t be part of the conversation, but it is important that they are adding to it rather than trying to be a subject matter expert on a topic with much more credible authors.

For our clients, one of the key challenges is helping them to understand (in a nice way) where they are able to add value to conversations about their industry. There are two common pitfalls:

1. Assuming you are all-knowing (illustrated above)
2. Assuming that all you can credibly talk about is yourselves

Both of these issues lead to cringe-worthy articles. The sort of stuff that turns website users off and certainly doesn’t lead to them interacting with you or giving up their data.

Instead, consider whether there is experience in your business which can offer additional value. For example, at i3 Digital we have a reliance on CMS partners for doing a large percentage of our work. We can’t compete with their authority on quite a few areas, but we can provide insight for potential and existing customers of those platforms by giving our perspectives in relation to specific projects. This is why our 6 webinars last year attracted over 300 sign-ups.


Tip 4: Know your audience

It’s easy to forget your audience in the midst of planning the best lead generation campaign of all time. We always advise our clients to thrash out exactly who their client personas are at the beginning of any marketing initiative. Over time these personas can evolve as we get to know them better. Without them, you’re shooting in the dark.


Tools like Hootsuite and Google Search Console are great for helping us to understand the potential priorities of our target clients. What are the key questions they are trying to find answers to? What prompts the best type of reaction? This insight allows us to create content that we know will resonate with our target personas at different stages of the buying journey.

Using tools such as HotJar and LeadForensics, also give a further way of interrogating that the content you created actually resonates with the audiences you are trying to reach. Taking a persona approach and plotting a typical journey through content will allow you to tweak an established model if things don’t work… rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


Tip 5: It’s a marathon, not a sprint


The switch to digital methods of purchasing and enquiring has meant that more and more of the customer journey happens online… most of it away from the marketing output we create.

A common pitfall is that organisations try to capture data too early.

If a sales cycle for a client is 18 months and you capture their email address 3 months in you have a hard job of remaining relevant for the whole of that purchasing process. Instead, consider when you really need the email address. This doesn’t mean that you don’t engage with the users before the final 3 months of the buying stage, but that you create an interactive and compelling marketing plan without capturing data. This is possible… it just needs good UX and thinking.


Need help with your GDPR?

We’re still helping some organisations to ensure they are GDPR compliant. If you need help please get in touch with or check out our offering on this page.

Alternatively, check out our latest blog topics for more great digital marketing insights and trends.

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