On the 25th May 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into full effect after years in the making. The GDPR is the EU's latest rewrite of its data privacy laws. Its impact will be felt by organizations across the globe, applying to everyone regardless of whether the data has been captured and analyzed inside or outside of the EU. This has had tech giants up in arms at what they perceive to be a war on their power, with the majority making billions from targeting ads using machine learning techniques.
Exactly what it means for the average company has been a little less well documented. Essentially, the terms of GDPR are such that if a company has a single EU customer on their databases (and, realistically, very few won't) then they must adhere to GDPR. What this will mean, then, is that companies will adopt GDPR practices as standard to avoid any complications, whether they are in Europe or not. Having said that, a worrying lack of companies worldwide are reportedly aware that they will be affected by the regulation. According to a survey from NTT Security, only 40% of organizations globally believe they will be affected by the change, and 33% of respondents don't even know where their data is physically stored. It'll be a time of major upheaval for data teams across the world, though, so businesses will do well to get a handle on it before it takes effect.
The biggest facet of GDPR as far as marketers are concerned is that, as of May, marketing lists will need to be opt-in. This has significant ramifications for the entire industry, with databases needing to be cleansed and reviewed to ensure that it can be proven that every name on the list opted in wilfully, whether the name is being used for legitimate purposes, and that the information is accurate. This will lead a lot of marketing teams to fundamentally reconsider how it is that they get potential customers onto their sites.
This means that buying lists for marketing purposes is a far less viable strategy - businesses will be forced to build their own databases organically. The way to do this? Get more people to your site and ask them to opt in.
Ultimately, GDPR could be a huge shot in the arm for content marketing for this reason. Brands will be increasingly interested in cleaner, more compliant ways of reaching customers. This is not to suggest that marketers will give up on working with data altogether - far from it, data efforts will simply have to become smarter and more nuanced. What it does mean is that content marketing will have an even glossier sheen when compared to the minefield that outreach could be until businesses become accustomed to the new landscape.
The arguments for content marketing have not changed, they've only gotten more persuasive. Through publishing engaging content that offers actual value to its audience, brands can build up a more willing relationship between themselves as publishers and their potential customers as visitors. In the B2B space, for example, if a brand can position itself as a thought leader in the space in which it operates, it will generate traffic from those simply looking to learn more about the sector. In this instance, your content is one of your most valuable assets - the more engaging the content, and the more authoritative a voice your company holds, the better your inbound marketing efforts.
It is difficult to overestimate the impact GDPR will have on marketing because it has the potential to be that significant. For content marketers and companies with adept content marketing strategies, though, the change should be a welcome one. With marketing set to become more about quality content than effective outbound marketing techniques, it's those with the expert knowledge and well-put-together material that will succeed under the new rules.