How to react to the aftermath of the GDPR

No matter how hard we try to see into the future, to prepare for market shifts and new requirements, some things can come at us like a plummeting piece of sky.

This is how many organizations may have felt about the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its aftermath.

What is the GDPR?

You have surely heard these four letters, by worried marketing departments and consumers bogged down by “updated terms and privacy” emails.

GDPR is a European Union regulation regarding data privacy rules and how organizations can use European citizens’ information, in which ultimately EU individuals now have more rights about how companies can use their personal data.

The major upset right now for companies all across the world: If an EU individual has not made a purchase with an organization, the organization must ask for that individual to opt-in to receive its emails — or else face penalties up to 20 million euros or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

While this is a European Union–specific regulation, it does affect companies worldwide that are doing business with EU citizens, and it even protects European citizens living abroad.

The regulation was approved back in April 2016, so why is it that data analytics company SAS found only 49% of companies worldwide were prepared to comply with the now-past May 25, 2018, deadline?

When the Cadence of Business Reviews Is Disrupted

Earlier this month, I shared how important it was for business leaders to create a cadence of business reviews to always keep a pulse on their business.

To many, the GDPR mandate did not fit into this regular cadence, but it is in fact one of the reasons having regular meetings is so important: to prepare for and to react to laws and regulations companies have little to no control of, among other factors.

Beyond preparing for and complying with the GDPR regulations, now many companies could benefit from regular business reviews as it concerns their email marketing strategies and how they are communicating with EU consumers.

Since GDPR implementation in May, digital marketing agency Huge found about 28% of Americans have been ignoring these emails and 23% have actually used them to unsubscribe.

According to Transparency Market Research, email marketing is projected to be worth $22.16 billion worldwide by 2025, and a large majority of companies use email to reach customers and prospects.

With such steep fines, some companies have taken a sweeping approach with their email marketing strategies and have been wary of email.

What Companies Can Do About the Effects of GDPR

While GDPR is a complex set of regulations, companies can work hard now to comply and still connect with buyers.

  1. Understand the law.
    To react and charge ahead, it is worth understanding at least the basic tenets of the new law. Appoint someone to act as the expert within your company or even turn to experts outside your company for governance and direction.
  2. Know your audience.
    If your company is not doing business with any EU companies, then GDPR is no headache to you. But chances are your business works with both US and EU businesses. If this is the case, start segmenting your email lists to note which are US and which are EU (i.e. which need to be GDPR-compliant).
  3. Continue to review.
    Talk about GDPR in your business reviews. Pay attention to the impact it is having on marketing and sales, and be prepared to start strategizing creative ways to respond.


If you are struggling with low email opt-in rates and more, please contact us to discuss how to best move forward.