10 Experts Weigh In: What Changes Will GDPR Bring for Marketers?

Trina Moitra
March 17, 2018 ·

Some folks have been talking about GDPR like it’s a death sentence.

GDPR will kill third party data.
GDPR will kill your outbound strategy.
GDPR will kill your email list, and your Facebook ads, and your self esteem, and some unsuspecting orphan kittens.

But we asked 10 experts how GDPR will really impact the current marketing landscape.

Here’s what they had to say.

(Responses are listed in no particular order).

#1: Sam Hurley

Ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale, #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica and one of the top 3 content marketing influencers by ScribbleLive. 

Sam Hurley

The GDPR is a big step in the right direction (away from email spam and invasive marketing).

For marketers, it primarily enforces what should have been requested in the first place:


Expressed consent (no assumptions — including cookies), need-to-know, only data and its secure storage, double opt-ins, highly-accessible opt-out options and 100% transparency are all soon going to be required, not merely encouraged.

How does this impact marketing?

  1. Possibly greater friction and less conversion (until it all becomes familiar), but also more engaged communities
  2. Increased trust
  3. Greater resource needed for compliance implementation / checks, especially among larger organizations

Although the changes are obviously tedious for many reasons (I delayed my own website by months!) — think about how you feel as a customer and/or subscriber on the receiving end of privacy neglect, and the positive outcomes of GDPR.

This is a golden opportunity for businesses of all sizes to wipe the slate clean, enhancing the quality of not only their data — but their processes and communications with customers.

Key takeaway: The intention of marketing and data collection is to be indicated with absolute clarity at all times; information always requested and never taken without expressed consent.

And please: Stop sending marketing emails to your non-opted-in LinkedIn contacts! This is NOT legal under the GDPR (or welcomed by many)!

#2: Chris Makara

CRO Influencer, Seen on SemRush, Ahrefs, http://chrismakara.com/

Chris Makara

I think that GDPR will allow marketers to build a better, smarter list.

For example, now that you will need to have their explicit consent when filling out a form – this is an opportunity have these users check off the boxes of information that they are interested in receiving. Of the users who select specific boxes, you’ll not only be granted permission to contact them again but also be able to craft your future messages to them to be centered around the topic of that checkbox.

It can be a great way to better segment some of your audiences up front should you phrase the checkboxes appropriately.

However, you’ll want to limit (test) the number of checkboxes to use. Perhaps one way to do this would be to have two checkboxes on your form. The first being for agreeing to the terms and conditions of the site and the second could be about receiving a targeted newsletter.

It could say something like “Yes, please keep me up to date on the latest [TOPIC].” Where you could dynamically replace [TOPIC] with the category/section the user is on your site.

Again, just one idea you could test when ensuring compliance for GDPR (I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to play one online. Please consult one to ensure what you are doing keeps you in compliance).

#3: Matt Janaway

CRO Influencer, CEO of Marketing Labs, https://marketinglabs.co.uk/

Matt Janaway

From the 25th of May 2018, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) becomes a legal regulation for UK businesses. It’s a big change and is set to evolve business marketing strategy and tactics across all industries.

GDPR should be every marketers bedtime read as failure to align business marketing practices in line with the new GDPR regulations could result in huge business fines. GDPR aims to tackle user consent and is going to completely change the way we think about handling data. In short, the rule of thumb of GDPR is that user consent must be given and not assumed and that the collection of data needs to be used for relevant purposes.

These new GDPR regulations are certainly going change the way UK businesses grow their databases however in my eyes, for years, businesses have been focused on growing their NUMBERS and not the QUALITY of their customer data. In the UK, businesses are going to need to segment customer data to only distribute content that the customer has accepted. However, this should have a positive impact on information distribution as users will be more receptive to this contact and businesses can stop wasting time and money contacting customers who are not interested in their products or services.

From a customer perspective, they will soon be in the driving seat and can decide how much contact they want with your business. Businesses should focus on winning a customer’s consent to their marketing effort and this should be seen as a positive step in building a long-term and loyal customer relationship.

#4 Dennis van der Heijden

CEO of Convert & GDPR Enthusiast, www.convert.com

#4 Dennis van der Heijden

The challenge of GDPR in marketing at this stage is the lack of clarity with ePrivacy Regulations final version missing. This poses a problem for many marketers not being 100% sure of what they can do and what not. This must not be an excuse not to act. Cold emailing, reverse-IP lookups are just not what people signed up for in Europe. They’ve made it clear that they don’t want it—it’s something that they want to change. GDPR helps European citizens control how their data is used, so that they just get that what they signed up for.

No more “you sign-up for a webinar and then being stuck in an eternal loop of emails, newsletters and website personalizations.” GDPR lets you sign up for a webinar—and get a clear overview of what to expect on the webinar, as well as what happens with your email.

This means a change of thought for marketers. Less hacks, less endless data enrichment. It means human-to-human communications, and setting the right expectations in your relationship with real people.

#5: Robert Clarke

CMO, Sensei Marketing, https://senseimarketing.com/

Robert Clarke

I think most marketers are in favour of the type of practices that GDPR will clamp down on: email spam, list buying, collecting cookies without permission, etc.

We need to move towards better online privacy and security when surfing the web, giving out contact info, and transacting with businesses.

However, there’s a few things that I’m skeptical about.

Here in Canada, there was a national “do not call list” created, along with legislation and penalties, in an effort to curb companies calling on your house to solicit business. Yet ask any Canadian with a home phone, and not a week goes by without a call or several calls from people offering “duct cleaning services.”

So it’s failed to meet its intended purpose.

Similarly, we also implemented CASL – anti email spam legislation. First, I don’t think it has done much to reduce email spam. Second, like GDPR, CASL laws are not just applicable to Canadian companies, but any company in the world that emails anyone in Canada (and with GDPR, any company that collects information from an EU citizen). I’m no legal expert, but I’m not sure how effectively you can enforce laws beyond the borders of your legislation. Maybe that’s easy, but I doubt it.

Finally, I know marketers are obviously a target of this legislation, but what I’d like to know is, how will it affect companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix – all whom collect massive amount of data on its users?

That will be interesting to watch.

#6: Keegan Brown

Directory of strategy, www.megethosdigital.com

Keegan Brown

There are two things that come to mind with GDPR. First, everyone is in the same situation and will have to abide by the same rules, which keeps everything even. So while it may change your marketing, remember that everyone has to change. Second, and more specifically for businesses that rely on leads, I recommend putting more focus on generating phone calls instead of lead forms. In my experience, businesses typically have a higher close rate from phone call leads rather than form submissions.

While intent is obviously different between the two lead types, the other piece is that a sales person can respond to objections. How does this relate to GDPR? This matters when getting leads to opt-in and the explicit “okay” to contact them.

#7: Kurtis Morrison

VP Client Services, EyeQuant, A GDPR Friendly Analytics Tool, http://www.eyequant.com/

Kurtis Morrison

As GDPR approaches, there’s an air of uncertainty around how the rules will be interpreted and enforced. Given the potential penalties involved, there’s going to be a lot more internal scrutiny of any data collection, and legal departments will want to err on the safe side. Implementing new analytical tools will become a much bigger project with more potential roadblocks.

This could mean an increased investments in insights tools that don’t require data collection. For tools that do, compliance issues will suddenly be a major decision criterion, which might also mean a tighter integration between marketing, technical, and legal functions when buying marketing software.

#8: Adam Beeson

Director of brand marketing and communications, G2 Crowd, https://www.g2crowd.com/

Adam Beeson

GDPR will pose challenges for many marketers, but with challenge comes opportunity.

For G2 Crowd, GDPR is a great opportunity to reinforce the main vision for our company: transparency. As these changes force marketers to abandon some relatively invasive marketing tactics, they will begin to rely more heavily on the experienced voice of their customers. Therefore, the personal data and trust provided by both reviewers and users on G2 Crowd will only gain influence and value. GDPR will result in strengthened brand trust, it will reboot some customer relationships and revolutionize marketing tactics for both G2 Crowd and the business world.

#9. Jeff Sauer

Digital Marketing Speaker, Professor & Google Analytics Consultant, Founder of Jeffalytics, https://www.jeffalytics.com/

Jeff Sauer

It’s difficult to say how things will change post GDPR, because at this point everything is still speculation. But I’ve been around this industry long enough to go through many other “scares” that have declared marketing “dead” time and time again. And somehow marketing is still alive.

At its nature, marketing is all about finding and creating a market for your products and services. Businesses must adjust to their market environment at all points in time, if they want to succeed in the long term. The use of technology for marketing is one of these adjustments. Those who embrace technology as a marketplace have largely outperformed those who did not use technology and stuck their heads in the sand.

For many, this technology has evolved to the point where it creates a privacy concern. Are we getting too targeted with the technology? Do we know too much about our marketplace? Are we sacrificing personal freedoms in the name of maximizing the capabilities of our technologies? Will consumers revolt against the machines?

The only response that matters is that of the marketplace.

From my experience, marketing practitioners assume that the marketplace wants something that’s good for them (let’s say vitamins), when the marketplace always wants something that provides immediate gratification (ice cream). When given a choice, the market will always choose the easiest option.

What does that mean for marketers in a post GDPR world? That your audience will continue to want ice cream, and you shouldn’t freak out about losing the flavor of the week.

#10. Shane Barker

Rated #1 Digital Marketing Influencer who Specializes in Boosting Revenue, https://shanebarker.com/

Shane Barker

With the growing concern of the public over privacy, the GDPR is a welcome change to European consumers. However, companies and marketers will be forced to make several changes in the way they do their business. They’ll have to spend millions to try and meet the requirements laid out by GDPR.

GDPR will be protecting web data including IP addresses, location, RFID tags, and cookie data. So this means it’ll become more challenging for marketers to create marketing campaigns that are personalized according to user behavior and requirements like before. And I think this might be one of the most harmful impacts for marketers, because personalization has become increasingly important to deliver marketing messages that are relevant to each consumer.

Privacy Vendor List
Privacy Vendor List
Originally published March 17, 2018 - Updated December 14, 2021
Mobile reading? Scan this QR code and take this blog with you, wherever you go.
Trina Moitra
Trina Moitra Trina Moitra is the head of marketing at Convert.

Start Your 15-Day Free Trial Right Now.
No Credit Card Required

You can always change your preferences later.
You're Almost Done.
I manage a marketing team
I manage a tech team
I research and/or hypothesize experiments
I code & QA experiments
Convert is committed to protecting your privacy.

Important. Please Read.

  • Check your inbox for the password to Convert’s trial account.
  • Log in using the link provided in that email.

This sign up flow is built for maximum security. You’re worth it!