GDPR and B2B Data – The Myths Exposed

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union law on data protection and privacy. This law affects how companies handle personal data, requiring businesses to follow guidelines on how they collect and store this data (Iubenda). So, the question is, does the GDPR apply to B2B data? The simple answer is yes–it is a common mistake to think that it doesn’t, so be careful what information you trust on this topic. GDPR applies to the processing of any personal data that makes someone identifiable, such as their name, email address, phone number, and IP address to name a few (Iubenda). This means that any business database of names, corporate email addresses, and job titles you have will be subject to the GDPR (Space & Time). There are several myths out there when it comes to GDPR and B2B data, but what are the facts?

Now that we know GDPR applies to B2B marketing, does it also apply to B2B emails? There is a lot of confusion surrounding GDPR, and with a lot of misinformation out there, it’s challenging to know what sources to trust. Making sure you have all the facts is essential for your business. An example of this confusion is knowing where email marketing stands, as there are no specific mentions of this within the law (Ged Leigh). The answer lies somewhere between yes and no, which is confusing. In order to send your email, you’ll need to verify that you’re allowed to contact them under the GDPR (Iubenda). However, if an email address isn’t tied to one person but a company ([email protected] for example), it may sit outside the scope of ‘personal data’ (Iudenda).

The question of consent can cause problems for B2B marketers, however, GDPR does not explicitly require opt-in consent (Ged Leigh).  A common misconception is that marketers can only use first-party data when opted in, but this is where ‘legitimate interest’ comes to play (Space & Time). The GDPR states that ‘the processing of personal data for direct marketing may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest’ – basically, where consent might not be feasible (Space & Time). Instead of restricting your contact to those who have opted in, legitimate interest enables communication with those who haven’t yet opted in (Ged Leigh). You should utilise this as a B2B marketer – legitimate interest enables your product or service to reach a wider audience with the intent of increasing your sales. Although specifics on this topic aren’t discussed in the Regulation, it is important to consider the data subject’s interests and to clearly demonstrate how users can opt-out (Space & Time). Sending a marketing email to customers who have unsubscribed is breaking the law and could result in a hefty fine. In 2016, Flybe received a £70,000 fine for emailing 3.3 million people in their database, all of which had previously opted out – Flybe had no consent to email (Steven MacDonald). Understanding the law surrounding the GDPR and personal data leaves 41% of marketers confused (Steven MacDonald) – not reassuring for consumers.

What Else Should Be Considered?

It’s important to make it clear what you are planning to do with your prospects’ data. You should highlight why you’re collecting their data, how you are processing and storing it, how long their data will be kept on record, and who it will be shared with (ICO). Providing this insight will only bring benefits to your business- transparency promotes trust. Lots of businesses request customer feedback on the level of service they’ve experienced and the products they have purchased, but few companies out there request feedback on how customers feel about their data being collected and used for marketing (Harvard Business Review). Taking the time to find out this information will not only increase customer satisfaction but allow you to explore new ways of using data.

Final Thoughts

Many marketers are concerned that the GDPR is mainly about imposing big fines (Space & Time). Although, as stated above, there are occasions whereby companies have been fined, this is usually the last resort and is not the reason GDPR first came about. GDPR exists to protect the data rights and privacy of citizens – a way of improving consumer trust (Space & Time), and we all want a happy customer! Ensuring you keep up to date with the GDPR laws is essential as a B2B marketer, so don’t fall behind.

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Joe Allen

Joe has vast experience and knowledge accumulated and honed as a New Business Development Manager and Relationship Manager. Presently the Director at Belu Media.

Responsible for generating new business clients, looking after existing clients, sourcing new ventures and managing the company.

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