GDPR is now officially the law of the land. The regulation, which centers on data protection for EU citizens, is affecting — and ultimately limiting — the way that retailers and CPGs obtain and use data for marketing. In fact, data suggest that because of GDPR, 43 percent of all consumer audience data in the EU will likely be unusable. This is because the law regulates what data brands can access and use, while giving consumers more say into how their personal information is managed. As a result, GDPR is poised to usher in a new era of pull marketing, fundamentally changing the digital tactics that have been the cornerstones of typical campaigns.
As Data Sets Shrink, a New Way Forward
At its core, GDPR is redefining the way retailers and CPGs think about digital. Before the regulations, everything was about volume and scale. Brands could send thousands of emails or serve millions of display impressions and hope to see a modest return on their investment. Now, with the threshold for opt-in and privacy rising, that form of marketing is starting to recede. You can’t simply "spray and pray." Or you can, but you risk possible complaints or litigation. GDPR means marketers must be more thoughtful about the end user’s digital experience and journey. It’s forcing brands to identify opportunities to engage customers and prospects on their terms. That’s how marketing should work.
Let’s say someone on a mobile device searches for a local specialty store. With GDPR, that moment of attention is actually more valuable to retailers and CPGs than it was before. As some marketing channels become more regulated, more challenging and less reliable, strategies and channels that hinge on the moment when a consumer wants you become more important. Tactics like search engine optimization, marketing around customer reviews, content marketing and business listings are particularly useful here. This type of “pull” marketing is more likely to deliver return on investment compared to “push” strategies, like email and display, that are being threatened by GDPR.
How CPG and Retail Marketers Can Pull, Not Push
Marketing tactics are either push or pull. Push strategies take the product or brand directly to an audience, whether invited or not. Examples include targeted email, banners and retargeting, autoplay video, and full-page takeovers. Unfortunately, these experiences have grown less effective over time. Consumers tend to find them interruptive and annoying, which has led to greater use of ad blocking. Data-driven marketing has made push tactics smarter and more personal, marginally boosting their performance. However, GDPR caps CPG and retailer access to the volume of data needed for more effective targeting. This will have a negative impact on push marketing.
As a result, pull tactics will become table stakes. Pull marketing means getting the customer to come to you — usually through less intrusive means like SEO, pay per click, social media, store listings, customer reviews, influencers and content marketing. The best pull tactics inspire consumers through their preferred channels as they move through the buyer’s journey, and are being perceived almost as a service helping with a purchase decision rather than advertising. This isn’t a way to get around regulations. Rather, it’s a set of channels and strategies that retailers and CPGs can lean on to mitigate GDPR’s impact on other areas of their digital marketing efforts.
GDPR is still new, and as retailers and CPGs continue to grapple with it, they'll likely shift towards a more pull marketing-focused digital strategy. It's the only way forward as GDPR limits data-driven opportunities and hinders the effectiveness of traditional push tactics.
Josha Benner is the co-founder and chief revenue officer of Uberall, a cloud-based digital location marketing platform.
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Josha Benner is the CRO and Co-Founder of Uberall, the location marketing solution for businesses competing to attract and win local brick-and-mortar customers. Uberall is used by the world’s largest multi-location brands and businesses, including McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s, Virgin Holidays, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and more.