It’s been now more than one year since GDPR came into force across Europe.

So where were we before the enforcement began? Some six months beforehand, Econsultancy’s research team found that, of 1,000 marketers surveyed, the majority were still unprepared and unsure what GDPR would do to their marketing.

In fact, 83% were still reviewing their activities and only one-third had a marketing strategy in place that was GDPR compliant.

With its focus on personal data, many of those in B2B marketers may have assessed the risks of GDPR to be low – particularly given that legitimate interest is one of the lawful bases for processing data, and that much information collected by B2B marketers relates to companies rather than individuals.

That being said, the bad use of data in B2B has been causing another problem. After being deluged by sales emails and phone calls, many buyers have just switched off from the “spray and pray” attempts to get their attention.

So what has happened in the year since? To explore these issues, we recently held a webinar on GDPR in B2B: One Year On, which is also available on demand. Here are a few highlights.

1. GDPR is good for marketing

Despite initial concerns from marketers that GDPR would be a bad thing for marketing or, if anything, just make marketing harder to do, the opposite seems to be happening. More than half (55%) of webinar attendees said that GDPR has been good news for marketing.

has gdpr been good for marketing

One of the ways GDPR has been good for marketing is that it has helped to move marketers away from bad practices. Not only does stopping these bad practices reduce risk – it also leads to better data quality which, in turn, leads to more focused marketing.

Another benefit is the potential in aligning with new buyer expectations. By using consent-based marketing, B2B buyers can opt-in to information relevant to them throughout their journey, instead of being bombarded with meaningless content that only serves to clutter their inbox. And, because buyers are only receiving information that is relevant to them, they are most likely to engage with those vendors and their content.

Moving away from the quantity of “spray and pray” to the quality of building connections and engagement means that on the whole, B2B marketing becomes better.

2. GDPR in B2B switches the focus to engagement

On the topic of engagement, studies have found that even though buyers are happy with written content like case studies, what they really like – and need at some point in their buying cycle – is being able to engage with a human being.

While in-person events (such as the Festival of Marketing) are one way of achieving that connection, webinars provide an option to do this at scale, something Econsultancy has been doing for many years through programs like Digital Shift.

In the context of GDPR, webinars have the benefit of creating multiple opportunities to drive engagement and win consent.

3. Compliance is ongoing

As late as September of last year (four months after GDPR went into force), nearly half (48%) of the attendees to a previous ON24 webinar on regulation said their company was not fully compliant but working towards it.

Even if your company is part of the 24% that said that they are fully compliant, it’s good to remember that compliance is actually a process.

Regulations change and more seem to be added all the time. Technology changes, as do processes and data flows.

To help navigate these changes and make sure you are still within compliance, it is essential to have a good relationship with your data protection officer who is there to help you achieve your marketing goals while reducing risk and remaining compliant.

Want to find out more?

What are your thoughts on GDPR? Do you agree that it has improved B2B marketing?

To hear more about what was discussed on the session, you can listen to it on-demand here.

Read our subscriber briefing

GDPR: A year on