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AI/Machine Learning to the Rescue for Companies in GDPR Battle

In This Chat, Optimove’s CEO Pini Yakuel Dove Gets into How GDPR May Affect Marketing and Sales Technologies and the Impact on the US-Based Martech Companies

Brands love to be in the headlines, only if they are making the right kind of news and delighting their customers. What if you lose to GDPR and end up making a news headline anyway… With the biggest disruption to marketing and brand connectivity coming next week, companies are leaving no stone unturned to ensure they are on the right side of GDPR compliance.

US companies are becoming increasingly cautious about how they leverage customer data and will strive to build trust and long-lasting relationships with customers to prove their worth.

In our attempt to further strengthen your preparedness for GDPR, we spoke to Pini Yakuel, CEO and Founder of Optimove. In this chat, Pini dove into how GDPR may affect marketing and sales technologies, its impact on the US-based Martech companies and much more about marketing campaigns.

How Would AI/Machine Learning Rescue Companies from GDPR? Which Companies Are Best Placed to Manage Their GDPR Strategies?

Companies need to get smart about who they are working with. Companies who are science-first and have deep knowledge of data science and artificial intelligence are best placed to manage GDPR as they have the insight and expertise other brands lack. GDPR signals a need for more intelligent analysis and machine learning techniques to deeply understand customer behavior, as many marketers clearly simply do not employ technology needed to truly get to know their customer.

For example, having AI-led customer segmentation based on hyper-specific actions is more apt to succeed than a brand using one blanket customer persona. This is how marketers are going to be more creative and start meaningful, personal conversations with customers, which will hopefully make them keep their email on your list, subscribe to your website or approve a request for personal information.


Because they see value in the interaction.

Pini Yakuel, CEO, Optimove

Exciting Opportunities and Spiraling Challenges: How do You See Both Ends of the GDPR Spectrum?

I think it (GDPR) is going to force marketers to kick ass at CRM if I would be blunt. Because today, they could get away with still batching and blasting and using those blank marketing techniques. That’s no longer going to be the case because the price of messing up is going to be very high. It’s going to be a big price to pay to lose a customer altogether and forget the customer from all your databases.

What especially makes me excited is the need for more intelligent analysis, and machinery techniques to really understand customer behavior because this is how you’re going to be more creative and start meaningful conversations with customers. This will make them want to keep their email in your list, subscribe to your website or approve a request for personal information. Why? Because they see the value.

Which Marketing and Sales Technologies Would Be Most Affected by GDPR?

Any technology that relies on leveraging customer data to make informed sales and marketing decisions will be most affected by GDPR. This ranges from the technology that populates an advertisement for a product you were just viewing to an email showcasing clothes relevant to the season in your location.

Because customers will now have to grant access to their data much more explicitly and can more easily revoke it, marketers will have to work harder to gain their trust if they want to be granted access to their data.

If brands use data to improve the customer experience and to share relevant, helpful and timely communications, they have nothing to fear from GDPR. If anything, this should serve as a signal that we should all be continuously improving in terms of catering to the customers’ wants and needs.

Why Should ‘Grey Area’ Players Fear GDPR?

To be blunt, the only marketers that should fear GDPR are the grey area players.

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GDPR will essentially wipe out the ability to deploy blanket advertising to an unfiltered audience list, which is the life-blood of shady marketers. Customers will be quick to activate their ‘right to be forgotten’ if marketers are using their information poorly or incorrectly. More than ever before, marketers need to be precise, explicit and emotionally intelligent to ensure they are using customer data to actually improve the experience of that customer, or they will be cut off.

As grey area players are known for leveraging customer data only to send these often irrelevant, blanket communications, they will inevitably be caught in the act; customers will take notice and revoke access, leading to these marketers no longer being able to contact customers.

And this is how it should be!

GPPR takes what should be an industry best practice — valuable communications — and puts legislation behind it, making it so there is no longer room for communications that lack value and benefiting customers and marketers alike.

Location-based Marketing and Mobile

Location-based marketing is definitely going to create a gap between what’s possible to do in Europe versus the US in terms of mobile marketing. In terms of who’s going to be impacted, Google versus the ad networks, I think it’s the grey market players and people that sell shady email lists and shady cookie databases.

They’re not a very big part of this industry, money-wise, but they still exist. I think we’re going to see those types of vendors vanish, which is overall a good thing.

How Will GDPR Change the Stakes of “Opt-Out”?

GDPR will completely change the stakes of what it means to “opt-out” of communications from a brand. Today, if a customer opts out of communications, that simply means the brand will no longer send them emails, text messages, direct mail, etc. However, that doesn’t have any effect on their ability to store and keep your data.

When opting out within GDPR, not only will this mean you no longer receive direct communications, but the brand will be legally required to remove your data from all of their systems — a huge and important difference.

Databases, backup drives, email lists — you name it, that data will need to be erased once the consumer opts out. There will be a bigger price to pay for a brand to lose a customer altogether and forget the customer from all of their systems. Essentially, this will put more power into consumers’ hands than ever before — true and absolute control of their data.

How Will GDPR Affect US-Based Companies with No Direct Connection to EU Operations?

No matter if they have business units in Europe or not, US companies are going to have to deal with the increased sensitivity around customer data and how it is used following implementation of GDPR. From the customer perspective, they will be aware of what brands are doing in Europe (as a majority of our favorite brands are global), and if the communications under the new law are in fact providing more value, US customers will ask themselves why they are not receiving the same treatment.

All marketers are going to need to get smarter and ensure that their messages are personalized, relevant and resonant. From the business perspective, there will be a massive impact on how data is used and how its value is perceived.

US companies are becoming increasingly cautious about how they leverage customer data and will strive to build trust and long-lasting relationships with customers to prove their worth.

Apart from the Penalties Levied by the Regulators, What Would Be the Impact of Non-Compliance on Brands?

The only scenarios for noncompliance are negative ones, and penalties from regulators would just be scratching the surface of the problems and controversy a brand would face. If customers know a brand is not complying with GDPR, they are essentially not giving the people the power over their data that they deserve (and have a legal right to) and in a sense, are holding it hostage.

Who would trust that brand?

Many would not, resulting in not only a loss of customers but the loss of trust and reputation. It takes years to build trust with customers, but that trust can be lost in a moment, and possibly never recovered. All relationships, whether it is a friendship or one with your favorite brand, are grounded in trust.

By not complying, brands are telling customers they do not value their trust or perspective. In the end, these brands have a real possibility of falling in with the grey area players I discussed earlier in the minds of consumers.

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