The Role Of Marketing In GDPR


Shortly after we completed one marketing campaign, a company we partnered with on the program asked us to share our leads with them. When I explained that we could not share prospects information, the CMO of the partner organization shot back an email saying that he had shared leads with partners for the last 20 years and did not understand what had changed to prompt my refusal. My answer to him: data privacy regulations.

Marketing organizations in the United States have all adjusted to regulations requiring targeted recipients of emails to be able to unsubscribe. Though in practice it is still hit or miss, the nature of new regulations such as GDPR will force marketers to review their processes and tools to adhere to the strict legislation, especially if they do business internationally.

In my last article, I discussed the role of marketing in cybersecurity and how important it is that marketers become cybersecurity advocates within their organizations. Similarly, I believe the same can be said for marketers’ roles in protecting sensitive customer data from exposure and complying with GDPR.

Marketing’s Role In Customer Privacy

The biggest evolution that marketers will go through in 2018 is not just around the growing digital transformation taking place but around data privacy. As marketers, while it is crucial that we evolve our strategy by embracing new technologies, it has become increasingly important to also put the privacy of our customers as a front-burner priority. It is second nature for us to handle sensitive customer data when generating new demand generation campaigns and events, but it might not always be second nature to consider the privacy implications (the aforementioned real-life example I shared can attest to that).

So what exactly is a marketer’s role in protecting customer data?

Marketing As The Fort

Marketing departments are often owners of customer and prospect data in the enterprise, holding the essential key to customer information databases. That data is usually stored within marketing automation tools, many of them cloud-based, that have been vetted by IT departments to ensure they match up to the organization security requirements before being deployed and used. Members of the marketing staff who manage and administer these tools are well-aware of the latest security and data privacy requirements and often get guidance from IT and legal departments to ensure they comply with internal policies as well as external regulations. These marketers keep the fort secure and are very protective of the data they own. They are the best advocates and serve as a conduit to educate the rest of the marketing department on such policies and regulations.

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