How Does GDPR Affect Digital Marketing in the UK?

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Since its creation in 2018, it has never been more important for a business to work closely with a GDPR representative, whether that be someone within the business or an external service.

GDPR has forced organizations to reconsider how they conduct any marketing actions that utilize personal data.

This change in approach has been particularly prominent in digital marketing. Whether your business utilizes personal information to conduct data analysis or uses a mailing list to deliver electronic mail, any activities like this must adhere to the stricter legislation within GDPR regulations.

This article will cover how GDPR has impacted digital marketing activities in the UK, what rules should be followed, and the benefits of outsourcing DPO services for this topic.

Two main digital marketing activities impacted by GDPR

In simple terms, any digital marketing activity that requires the use of personal data consists of two main activities:

Data gathering and profiling

This refers to gathering information with the intention of using it to analyze the market and develop unique customer profiles. It also includes any additional processing you plan on doing to keep track of customer choices, with the intent of improving your product or service to meet certain needs.


Targeting refers to any time you reach out to customers or prospects with a product or service offering. This often comes in the form of email, SMS, or push notifications, and targeting could be split into certain segments or profile groups.

As you would imagine, the more personal information used within marketing plans, the more difficult it becomes to stick to GDPR compliance.

Read: Benefits of Digital Marketing: Why You Should Start Using it Now

Golden Rules Marketers Should Follow

Allow the right to object.

Your customers have the right to object to their data getting processed for direct marketing under GDPR legislation. This legislation also covers any profiling you wish to do as part of your marketing strategy.

An individual must be informed that they can object at any time at no cost. If a customer does object to having their data used for marketing purposes, any and all personal data must not be processed for marketing communications.

Provide more transparency.

GDPR regulations require businesses to be much more transparent about what they are using personal information for, including any marketing purposes that it might be used for.

In these instances, individuals must be made aware of how their information is getting processed and what marketing activities will likely occur using the personal data that they have provided.

On top of that, any information about the consumer’s right to object to this must be clearly shared and presented to consumers, separate from any other information.

Gain active content.

When consent is required, marketers must be careful to ensure they gather consent from the consumer freely and offer them specific information about what their data will be used for.

On top of that, GDPR also requires businesses to ensure that consent is provided by clear affirmative action or a statement.

In simple terms, consent must be given actively and not passively. Therefore, you must say goodbye to any pre-ticked boxes or complex double-negative sentences about not not opting in!

Consent must also be stored and documented in case of inquiries that may arise in the future. Sticking to the requisites of valid consent is essential to ensure personal data can be used for direct marketing strategies.

Opt-in and Soft Opt-in approach.

Other than the general use of GDPR across your business, email, SMS, and other electronic marketing tactics are also subject to further rules and regulations.

One of the most important non-negotiable rules that must be adhered to is gathering opt-in consent before sending any marketing communications. Before GDPR, this rule was certainly in place, but it was often ignored by many businesses, with little to no ramifications.

But that is not the case since GDPR came into play. It is vital that you gain clear and obvious opt-in from your customers before you start contacting them.

Not only that, but each email, SMS, or push notification that you send must also include a clear and obvious unsubscribe option so that customers have complete control over what information you are allowed to send them.

If you fail to stick to these regulations, you can expect to be hit with a large penalty fine.

Read: How To Execute A Proper Digital Marketing Campaign

Consider an External GDPR Agency

In summary, businesses must reconsider their marketing process when personal data is included. As you can tell, GDPR can get extremely complex, especially when you are creating detailed and segmented marketing programs.

To ensure you are meeting the requirements of GDPR, one excellent option available to you is to outsource your GDPR needs.

Rather than hiring someone internally and still not being convinced that GDPR standards are getting met, a GDPR agency will guarantee to meet GDPR requirements and take some of the accountability away from your company.

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