GDPR Is Going To Change Content Marketing And Why I’m Happy About It

Like a lot of people, I pushed it right up to the wire before even thinking about GDPR. I’ve seen these four letters on my radar for awhile now but thought it was “just for Europeans” (despite the fact that I live in the EU, my business is based in the USA and I’m an American citizen).

Is GDPR relevant for you?

If you’re like me and you collect information in order to send emails to people, and if some of those people are in the EU, then the answer is YES. 😳

As of May 25th, 2018 the law will be enforced and the penalties for non-compliance are severe. 

I’m not an attorney and I’m not an expert—in fact, I’m still in the process of getting GDPR compliant and figuring it all out, so none of the following is intended as legal (or otherwise) advice. But in a nutshell, GDPR—as it pertains to my own business anyway (where I’m just building a mailing list for marketing purposes)—means the way people are added to my list will change, because:

  • We can no longer automatically add everyone who wants our freebies and lead magnets to our marketing lists, we need standalone consent from people in the EU. (In other words, “You can’t require them to give this consent as a condition for getting your freebie.”)
  • As of May 25th, if you weren’t compliant when they signed up, you can’t continue to email people from the EU without first getting explicit consent to do so.

Because I’m in the EU, I’ve already received a handful of “Important! I need your consent!” emails—but that’s out of dozens and dozens of lists I’m subscribed to. The next 10 days should be interesting.


What I’m Doing About It

I’ve not yet emailed the EU people on my lists to ask for continued consent yet because my email service isn’t rolling out the functionality to sort subscribers by region until this week (don’t feel bad if you feel “behind”… even email providers are scrambling right now).

In the meanwhile, I’m in the process of updating all my forms and email sequences.

To make things simple, I’ve decided to put all of my lead magnets and opt-in freebies in one big “resource library” so I can pull down all of my old stuff and start fresh.

My email provider updated form options by providing “GDPR-compliant” consent checkboxes, but digging into GDPR a bit deeper… I realized that’s not enough if I’m offering a lead magnet as an incentive to opt-in to the list:

“You can’t add a checkbox and prohibit the delivery of the lead magnet if they don’t click the box.”

So I decided to ask for consent in the “Confirm Subscription” (or “Delivery”) email.

This is the double opt-in, and before GDPR, it worked like this:

Sign up for freebie > get a confirmation email > then get the freebie

After GDPR, it works like this:

Sign up for freebie > get the freebie and ask for consent to be added to the mailing list

And um… I hope that’s right! 😬(Pssst, Lawrie?) 

Now, I could do this for ONLY people in the EU, but I thought… you know what? I don’t want to require anybody who doesn’t really want to be on my mailing list to be there anyway. If they haven’t received enough value by reading my blog, then I haven’t done a very good job OR they’re just not my people.

To drive the point home:

My freebies are now completely free and no strings attached… gulp.

At first, this felt really scary… like reverting back to the days of “sign up for my newsletter” which doesn’t really work –nobody wants to sign up for anybody’s newsletter, we all have enough newsletters.

But then I realized that this is my chance to create a more qualified list. All the people who aren’t really interested me or what I have to say, or would unsubscribe or never open my emails anyway, aren’t going to opt-in… and that’s good. 

But I still have a chance to “sell myself” to those people who don’t opt-in at that touchpoint. Since I’ve given them access to my resource library (another touchpoint, hurrah!), I can make it so damn valuable that they decide to join my tribe. So I’ll be working hard on that over the next few months. Then, I plan to include an option to opt-in to my mailing list in all my downloads and on the web pages that store those resources.

This is how I’ll introduce myself to people who don’t know, like, and trust me yet — so rather than aiming to build the BIGGEST! LIST! … I’m going to bring my A-game (a challenge. I love a challenge. 💪) and do what I can to create more meaningful connections with the people who trust me enough to sign up.

And that got me thinking that this could potentially change the entire landscape of content marketing. Perhaps the days of quickly throwing together any old thing to trick people on to mailing lists are over. I just don’t think that’s going to work anymore.

I always hated that marketing advice anyway: “You don’t have to spend a lot of time on your opt-in freebies, just throw together a quick whatever…” How many of these have we downloaded and been like…

We’re going to have to dig deep and bring the value, and that’s going to separate the cream from the crop.

I’ve been saying this for a while now… it’s not enough to just create free content anymore, everybody’s creating free content. Your content must be valuable—remarkable even—and it must be designed to attract the right people to you (and repel the wrong ones, too).

My delivery email is in alignment with who I am and who I want to attract

Now I know it’s wordy as hell, but I’m kind of over making everything bite-sized, watered down and spoon fed. My people are engaged and value my opinions, and if they can’t read a few paragraphs then they’re not my people. I welcome them to visit the resource library and I wish them well…

But for those who decide to come along for the ride, they’ll know exactly what they can expect from me. I’m not afraid to let people know exactly who I am. No fluffery, no false promises… just “this is me, what do you say?” 

I expect that my list won’t grow as quickly, but I’m okay with that.


What does all this mean for the future of content marketing?

I think we’re going to experience a lot less noise in email marketing–we’re already experiencing less of it on Facebook since the algorithm change. Those two things are going to make it exponentially harder to get people’s attention online.

But in turn, I expect the quality of the signals that do get through to improve.

Ultimately, this means the people who create the best content will win. Game on, I say. 

I predict that the way forward is to stop slapping things together and deliver our best as a way to build trust. To really help people, not treat them as numbers and conversion percentages.

I also predict that some other sleazy way to market online is going to crop up… there always has to be for people who are lazy and just want to make a quick buck, and don’t really care about delivering value to their customers/tribe/audience.

I think.

Well, it’s going to be interesting to see, anyway.

What do you think? Are you taking steps to get GDPR compliant?

Leave me a comment below!

Oh hey guess what–here’s the sign up form to access my FREE resource library 👇 I hope to see you in your inbox!

Taughnee is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.

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Is GDPR relevant for you? If you're collecting information from people in the EU, it is. Here's how my content marketing strategy is changing and why I'm not mad about it.