How GDPR can affect B2B Lead Generation

With the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organizations have had to adjust to the new reality of GDPR compliance.

When it comes to the B2B space, marketers worry that the additional regulations governing capture and communication with leads may impact their lead generation efforts. However, the changes will be minimal for organizations that establish thoughtful data management processes and leverage an inbound, audience-centric approach to lead generation and nurturing.

Aside from ensuring that all internal systems used to capture, store and handle customer/lead data are compliant, marketers also have to worry about the third-party data processors they use since GDPR rules also apply to all external parties acting on their behalf.

Non-compliant organizations running lead campaigns in the EU will have to pay hefty fines – up to 4% of global revenues or €20 million – whichever is higher. To avoid such stiff penalties, many B2B marketers may need to rethink their lead generation strategies in today’s GDPR world.

Here are some of the key considerations for ensuring GDPR compliance.

Securing consent

With GDPR in place, data permission is now a major priority: explicit permission must be obtained for all marketing activities. B2B marketers would need to gain consent from prospective customers when it comes to acquiring their data and growing their marketing database. Not every lead that requests a piece of promotional content (like a free e-book or access to a webinar) wants to be signed up to receive a whole gamut of other communications. Marketers must ensure that leads opt-in for every type of marketing communication they want to send.

Collecting personal data

Since GDPR requires a legally justifiable reason for collecting personal data, marketers should ensure that they don’t collect any more data than is necessary. Although this would have little or no impact on most B2B brands, marketers should consider whether they really need any personal data other than a name and email from leads interested in receiving content.

Marketers should create demand generation programs that progressively capture more data about leads as their interest grows. This is a plus for lead generation efforts. Since marketers will be forced to offer real value to leads in exchange for their personal data, they will be able to deeply segment prospects and customers based on their level of interest and engagement.

Keeping data in perpetuity

With GDPR in force, it’s no longer advisable for marketers to keep lead data in perpetuity. Regular data cleanup should be done to remove leads that haven’t engaged for some time. Marketers should also respond promptly to requests from leads or customers asking that their data be removed from a database or provide prompts that allow leads to remove themselves. There’s actually an upside to this. Allowing leads to revise or cleanse their data makes it easier for marketers to maintain up-to-date lists. This saves time and helps marketers focus their attention and strategies on the leads with the best chances of conversion.

Managing third-party relationships

GDPR requires organizations to obtain clear affirmative action from leads– an unambiguous agreement by prospects to have their personal data processed. Organizations must also keep up-to-date documentation that lists all personal data it collects and processes, records of consent received from prospects, documented processes that were followed for the protection of personal data, the purpose for processing said data, and the location of all personal data.

These rules apply to marketers’ lead sources (obtained from landing page forms) as well as those gotten from the paid campaigns of third-party lead vendors. As such, B2B marketers must put in place measures to ensure that lead vendors, publishers and media partners collecting lead data on their behalf via third-party sites are also GDPR-compliant.

Before running any campaigns in the EU, organizations can have their legal teams draw up an agreement to be signed by all third-party vendors, stating that they are GDPR-compliant. Although this may not free marketers from all legal repercussions and obligations, such a contract can go a long way in proving compliance.

Organizations should also require third-party lead vendors to show them the forms and landing pages they want to use to present offers and capture prospect data. This should be done before executing campaigns in the EU. Screenshots should be taken and time stamped.

The bottom line

With GDPR in effect, B2B marketers may think it’s easier to just stop running third-party lead gen campaigns to avoid all the hassle. However, doing so will negatively impact sales pipelines. Unfortunately, there’s no hack for GDPR; marketers must get more organized and mindful of how they acquire, process, store and use their prospects’ personal data.

Although GDPR may bring about significant changes to lead generation strategies, it’s an ideal time for marketers to rethink their demand generation activities by looking for more effective ways to create trust with their target audience and deliver even more personalized experiences.

Marketers should see GDPR as a development that challenges them to up the ante and leverage better, more precise and efficient demand generation practices.