B2B Marketing Post GDPR

With the GDPR research and compliance just about complete for my own business, I have been thinking how B2B marketing will progress in the post GDPR world. GDPR forces us to think more like sales people who focus closely on the best business opportunities, and less like the now old-style digital marketer working with large databases, click rates and “opens”. People like predictability. If you can email 10,000 contacts knowing that 1% will respond, you can easily justify the cost of a campaign. The trouble with those campaigns was that 9,900 people may have viewed your email message as rubbish, or mildly annoying. From next week we should see fewer unwanted messages in our inboxes.

GDPR – people choose what they receive

It poses a question for B2B marketers. Until the 25th of May, email marketing was the number one tool in the digital marketing toolbox for customer acquisition. From next week, an email shot to third party list won’t be legal unless the contacts have “opted in” to receive communications. Going forwards, the marketing lists available are likely to be smaller but not cheaper.

The remaining digital options for customer acquisition are: pay per click advertising, blogging, online PR / advertising, the social networks, and organic search, where most businesses would need to invest in SEO and a tool to watch who visits your website. Each of these options needs a bit of investment. It will still be possible to offer webinars and white papers, but people will be able to choose what they receive. This means that the new contacts or “leads” coming from these methods are likely to be fewer.

Social channels

The social networks can be effective for business development. They present opportunities for marketing, and I know people who have used the paid options on Linkedin with good results. However the social networks can only work IF the individuals you want to work with are active there. They don’t work for everyone, and their algorithms are continually changing. It is sensible to keep this kind of activity under constant review.

Old and new marketing

The era of the cheap digital marketing may be behind us, and marketing budgets may need to be re-focused.The traditional ways of finding new customers were trade shows, events, telesales and even direct mail. These will continue largely unchanged and may even see a little revival.

How to move forwards?  We should watch what is happening with trade media. They are useful for B2B promotions but have suffered from the shift away from print and lower advertising revenue.  Now they could see an increase in interest – probably mostly in the digital area. In particular, I believe this will be the case where the publishers with greater foresight have already established useful publications for lots of specialist market sectors. There has been a gentle movement in this direction for some time. The same goes for exhibitions and conferences where there’s a clear trend towards smaller, more focused events.