Digital Marketing | 9 min. read

Rebuilding your marketing database after the GDPR deadline

Written by Matt McGillicuddy, 06.06.2018

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Line of code saying ‘sign up’ to a marketing database

When the GDPR deadline passed on the 25th May 2018, organisations’ marketing databases suffered significant attrition, with an estimated 3/4 of all UK marketing data being rendered obsolete. This data loss has caused substantial disruption to companies that had a historical overreliance on email marketing. As explored in my last article “GDPR – Is losing 75% of your marketing data an advantage?”, a 75% reduction in database size reduces email campaign engagement by 44.44% – nearly halving the number of prospects and customers that interact with your brand and your marketing messages. Halving the number of prospects that interact with your business will have a serious impact on sales; and to avoid losing revenue, many UK businesses need to rebuild their databases to circumvent the considerable reduction in engagement that is associated with smaller marketing databases.

Before a prospect can be added to your database, individuals must provide your organisation with explicit, unbundled granular consent which specifies how they permit you to interact with them. Prospects must opt-in to receiving your communications. As such, rebuilding marketing databases may not be a straightforward process, and it certainly won’t happen overnight.


Purchasing data is not the answer…

Whilst you may be tempted to purchase lists of data that you can use to ‘top-up’ your marketing databases quickly, it is important to remember that any GDPR non-conformances are the responsibility of the ‘data controller’, i.e. you. If a prospect from the list receives a marketing email from your organisation and they have not given permission for their personal data to be used in this way, you [not the company that you purchased the data from] can be fined by the Information Commissioners Office [ICO] for not complying with the regulation.

Whilst the ICO states that you can use bought in lists to make live marketing calls, provided you have screened the data against the TPS and the internal ‘do-not-call’ list that you should have, they state that using purchased data to send emails can only be done if the individuals on the list have given you specific consent to process their data in this way.

“You can only use them if all the people on the list specifically consented to receive that type of message from you. Generic consent covering any third party will not be enough.” – ICO

It is your responsibility to check and satisfy yourself that any lists of data that your organisation purchases are accurate, the data was collected fairly and that the individuals on the list have given you specific consent recently enough to cover any of the data processing that you wish to perform for marketing purposes.


Your website is.

With 94% of B2B buyers using the internet to consider purchase options, websites have not only become the foundation of modern marketing communications, but are a favourite haunt of prospective sales leads, i.e. individuals that you want to include in your marketing database. All the traffic that visits your website fit into one of four categories: Existing Customers; Potential Customers; Competitors; and Mistakes. Provided they are not Competitors or Mistakes, visitors to your website will invariably have an interest in purchasing your products and have the potential to convert into new or repeat customers. To rebuild their databases with cleansed data, marketers must encourage these visitors to identify themselves and opt-in to receiving communications.

Whilst purchase incentives and competitions are enough to encourage prospects to ‘sign-up’ for many B2C businesses that operate e-commerce models, B2B organisations must utilise different tactics. Personal data is a protected commodity that prospects are unwilling to part with, without good reason.


Content is key

Website visitors that have purchase intent are likely in the 1/3 or 2/3 of their purchasing journey. According to Sirius Decisions, prospects are 67% of the way through their journey before they interact with a sales representative. During these stages, prospects are conducting research and evaluating how they can solve their problem and assessing which suppliers would be best able to help them.

Through one of their reports, DemandGen advises that buyers are willing to provide organisations with their personal information in exchange for resources that will assist them in their decision making. The report stated that 76% of buyers were happy to exchange their details for white papers, 63% were happy to do so for e-Books and 79% would provide an email address to attend a webinar.

Even if a visitor is willing to provide you with an email address so you can send them a download link, there is no guarantee that they will give you the consent that is required for you to add them to your mailing list. Though the idea may be enticing, it is important that you do not add these prospects if you do not have their permission to do so, otherwise, you are breaching the General Data Protection Regulations and are liable to be fined.

Even though it does not guarantee more email addresses for your marketing database, content is still an important weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. Good quality, downloadable content gives you an opportunity to influence purchase decisions and drive prospects closer to the point of sale; in other words, an opportunity to realise the ultimate objective of marketing communications.


Encourage more visitors to convert

Sumo, a leading conversion rate optimisation software developer, declare that only 1.95% of website visitors opt-in to receive marketing communications. For every 100 visitors, only around 2 will give you permission to include them in your marketing database. Organisations that want to rebuild their marketing databases as quickly as possible will need to invest in increasing this percentage.

The first step of Conversion Rate Optimisation [CRO] is developing an understanding your customer’s needs, which can be done through strategic marketing planning. This understanding will allow you to develop enticing resources that prospects will find valuable and want to engage with. Effective Call-to-Actions [CTAs] and well-designed data capture forms further tempt visitors into opting-in; investing in robust copywriting and design is, therefore, a must. Perfecting CRO requires continuous effort. To perform CRO properly, organisations must be willing to implement A/B testing and use their findings to develop more successful iterations of their data capturing systems.


Increase the number of visitors

Improving conversion rate will help you gather data from as high a percentage of your website’s visitors as possible. The only way to increase the actual amount of data captured is to increase the number of visitors that your website receives. This can be done in several ways, but three key areas of focus are:



On Google, the search engine that has 90.61% of worldwide market share, click-through rate decreases by 49.57% as you move from position one to two. Investing in SEO will help your organisation’s web pages achieve as high a position as possible on the search engine results pages, and consequently increase the number of visitors they receive.


Social Media

In a study conducted by Social Media Examiner, 79% of marketers reported an increase in website traffic with as little as 6 hours a week invested in social media marketing. Which isn’t surprising when you consider that more than half [53%] of B2B buyers use social media to conduct research and make purchasing decisions.


Paid Promotion

Improving your website’s position organically and gaining enough reach on social media channels to significantly increase website traffic does not happen overnight. Organisations that need to counter the sales lead attrition associated with GDPR quickly will need to supplement these activities with paid-for-promotion. Whether in the form of search engine advertising, digital display advertising or native social media advertising; paid promotion can increase the number of visitors your organisation’s website receives.

When working to increase website traffic it’s important that focus is placed on attracting the ‘right’ visitors. Without specific targeting, a large percentage of your investment and the effort that you expend will be wasted on attracting visitors who have no interest in your business or the products that you offer; meaning there is 0% chance of them progressing through your sales pipeline and becoming customers. In which instance, you would have simply invested in adding digits to the count on your monthly website traffic and marketing database – vanity metrics that will not improve the effectiveness of your marketing, or contribute to an increase in sales.


Rebuilding your marketing database is not the only way to prevent sales attrition

Before pouring time and resource into re-growing email databases, it is important to consider the reasoning behind doing so. If the ultimate objective is to maintain pre-GDPR levels of sales you must question whether there are more cost-effective methods of doing so. The introduction of GDPR has caused conditions in the macro environment to change. As with any major change, organisations must review their strategic options and make subsequent choices that permit them to realise their commercial objectives in the most efficient way.

Though email marketing is a favoured tactic of many B2B marketers, with nearly 60% of professionals citing the channel as the most effective in terms of revenue generation, it is not the only way to generate sales interest. Rebuilding your marketing database may not be a necessity when you consider the wide range of marketing communications that you have at your disposal. As I concluded in my article that explored how organisations can generate sales interest after the GDPR deadline, there is no substitute for a fully integrated marketing communications strategy when it comes to lead generation. The enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation will force organisations down this path. To retain market share and amass revenue, companies will have to become more marketing savvy and implement a more diverse and well-rounded set of tactics.

If you need help redressing your marketing strategy and the tactics that your organisation uses to win new business, talk to Intermedia.

Originally published June 6, 2018 16:06pm, updated September 30, 2020

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