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Getting over our obsession with volume and stats in b2b marketing

Well, I’m GDPR’d out! It’s been pretty hard to avoid, unless you’ve been on a remote, sunny island blessed with no wifi for a few months.

It's time to get comfortable with quality over quantity; perhaps an unintended outcome of GDPR is an opportunity for us to change our marketing mindset

I’m ready for some GDPR time-out, thank you very much, and and I’m guessing I’m not alone.

But one week in and it’s interesting to sit back (perhaps imagine you are on that sunny island) and reflect. When I do it makes me smile (and that’s before I’m handed my imaginary mojito). Talking to friends and colleagues last week, we had ALL, without exception, received a torrent of data/privacy/GDPR emails mostly to things we had forgotten we’d registered for in the first place. The almost unanimous reaction? One massive spring clean, we’d metaphorically got a big dishcloth in one hand and the biggest bottle of erase-a-mail in the other. And we were all HAPPY. We felt a strange sense of collective achievement (admittedly in my case bordering on smug satisfaction).

That is until it dawned on us. Yes, if we’d done this, what if all our customers had too? It went a bit quiet. What if …? For a moment we couldn’t utter it. What. If. We. Had. No one. To. Market. To. Anymore. ARGHHHHHHHH (blood-curdling scream ala Janet Leigh). Horror of horrors!

It took me a moment to compose myself, if I’m being honest. But then the smile reappeared (phew). Why? Because so what if our ‘marketing list’ had shrunk overnight. Instead, how great that the people still on there wanted to engage with us. Maybe, just maybe, it’s an opportunity.

An opportunity for us marketing peeps to overcome our addiction to stats. An excellent report from Source (Marketing in consulting firms – A two-tier society, 2016) summed it up nicely: ‘Marketing departments appear to focus their efforts on things that can be measured rather than things that work in an attempt to prove their value’. Because let’s face it, for many of us it was stats and blind faith that kept us going for so long, so bad was the insight and data we got from our systems (and that’s assuming we had the will or capacity to extract the data from finance, CRM, feedback and come up with some Einstein-like methodology and a ‘dashboard’ to make it meaningful). If we were lucky we worked closely with sales and practice colleagues who would tell us the outcome of our hard work, the difference we were making.

But now, with the advent of sales and marketing cloud systems (that actually have nifty Einstein-like coding), we are starting to get a much clearer picture about the role our marketing activity plays and the value it has. How the pieces of the jigsaw, marketing included, all fit together.

So, perhaps an unintended outcome of GDPR is an opportunity for us to change our marketing mindset. We’ve got to get over our addiction/craving/obsession (delete as appropriate) with volume and stats, and get more comfortable with quality over quantity. At last we can think more about meaningful interaction and engagement with our customers, not just ‘open’ or ‘engagement’ rates (a term that still rankles me, but that’s another blog for another day!). There may be fewer customers on our ‘list’, but perhaps this is the opportunity to get closer to them that we’ve been waiting for.

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