GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is without a doubt the least appealing acronym that any European event marketer could ever have hoped to encounter. Nonetheless, there is a storm coming our way (a Privacy and Data Protection Tsunami), and unless we are fully prepared, this is going to be a marketing Armageddon for events marketers.

Just in case you haven’t heard about GDPR – The General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of European laws that governs how you communicate, interact with and store prospect and customer data that comes into force May 25, 2018.

Let’s say you had your head in the sand and have taken no action to get compliant for GDPR on May the 25th 2018. What happens when you email someone in your database about an upcoming event? Unless this someone has given explicit and unambiguous consent for you to email them, the EU can fine you up to €20,000,000 or up to 4% of your global turnover.

What’s more – even if you’ve been given explicit and unambiguous consent, that’s just the first step. You must then be able to rigorously prove (with the real data) exactly how and when that consent was given.

What is explicit and unambiguous consent? What the EU is looking for is your data subject to undertake a ‘clear affirmative action’ to consent to future marketing. In layman’s terms, this means that your prospects or customers will have to ‘tick’ a box which explicitly and unambiguously tells them what you do with their data.

Additionally, under GDPR if you are using cookies/pixels (who isn’t these days), then you will also need to clearly obtain opt-in. In other words, until your data subject has explicitly agreed to ‘cookies’ you will not be allowed to automatically drop them in their browser.

While the scope of GDPR and becoming compliant is far more extensive than how you legalise your email marketing and cookie strategy (understatement – if you consider 300 pages of GDPR legal requirement) such as employee training, HR, data sharing privacy policies, breach management etc. — let’s just focus on marketing for now.

Traditionally, the greater B2B marketing space has had the edge over Event marketers when it comes to inbound marketing. In other words, they have a content marketing strategy which includes assets designed to validate the intent of their prospects while leading them on a breadcrumb value trail (white papers, ebooks, case studies, other lead magnets) straight to conversion behind a wall that requires some form of opt-in.

On the flipside, I don’t know many event marketers who have acquired opt-in’s through inbound or content marketing. The majority of the event marketers I know don’t actually know the origins of their data, as it’s usually a combination of databases built from previous events, business cards, databases brought in by employees, purchased and scraped email lists.

GDPR is effectively calling time on this approach to data gathering and marketing. Traditionally Email has been the most frequently used online marketing channel for Event Marketers, but if you currently have European email addresses in your database that are not GDPR compliant (and you cannot prove how they are) – YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO LEGALLY EMAIL THEM FROM MAY 25 2018.

Over the coming weeks we are going to publish a series of GDPR Event Marketing Articles

Pin It on Pinterest