Want to hear something scary? GDPR! This is a big, scary buzzword in the business world right now, but it poses many questions. What does it mean?! How does it affect business?! What if no one knows?! This sweeping action taken by the European Union does have effects, and may very well affect your business, but it doesn’t have to be the scariest thing you encounter this Halloween.
If you’ve been asleep since May 24, 2018, you may be unaware of the fact that the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, has become active in the European Union. Perhaps you saw the news and scoffed, wondering how a little, old data regulation all the way across the Atlantic Ocean could affect your business. Well, that’s just it. It does affect your business, and while some of the changes as a result of the GDPR can be seen now, the full ramifications have not yet revealed themselves. With that said, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you and your business are taken care of going forward.
Even if you aren’t waking up from a 160-day nap, the GDPR can be difficult to grasp. Many experts struggle to define the exact effects the legislation will have and are left more confused than assured. This is not a reason to panic, however. Clarity will come. For the time being, it’s important to understand simply what the GDPR is:
Now that we’ve established what the GDPR is, where do we go from there?
“Obviously you have to play by the rules of whatever platform you’re using,” observes John Max Bolling, the Head of Marketing and Sales at Engine eCommerce. “You need to be able to comply with the rules, and understand that aggregators of data will be affected. We’re already seeing changes in lookalike audiences on Facebook, where they’re roughly 15-30 percent less effective than they were.”
Context is the key. If you’re completely domestically based, you can stand not to panic at the moment. But it’s also important to be constantly vigilant.
“If you sell only in the U.S., sure, think about it, prepare for it, because that regulation is coming,” Bolling said. “Does it come in 24 months? Does it come in 7 years? We don’t know, but it’s coming.”
It’s worth noting that generally speaking, Americans care less in about online privacy than users in the E.U. do. This may lead to lighter regulations, but in an increasingly global society of culture, and commerce, these changes will affect you. Be aware of what kinds of data you rely on, and find ways to source that data consensually from other avenues. Customers want their privacy respected, and you should treat email lists as a truly intimate connection.
The world of global trade is messy, and hard to define. However, as always, it’s important that you don’t panic. “Moving into 2019, be aware and prepared to pivot, because this kind of regulation is inevitable.” It may be indiscernible if the GDPR is a trick or a treat, but rest assured that your business can still function, because the GDPR is not some monster hiding under the bed, and if you’re vigilant, you will be safe all through the night.