GDPR and Inward Investment / FDI Marketing: A Disaster or an Opportunity?

Thursday 31 May 2018
Today is GDPR Day +6, and there's little doubt that inward investment marketers across Europe will, by now, be nursing seriously depleted email marketing lists. The problem, of course, is that the new regulation requires contacts actively to opt in to receive emails; the old approach of adding contacts to lists and hoping they won't unsubscribe is no longer OK.

So, inward investment marketing teams will have emailed their contacts asking them to opt in, and most, in all probability, will have chosen not to. We shouldn't be too surprised by this - if contacts were only on our mailing lists because we put them there, actively opting in is unlikely to be at the top of their list of priorities.

But is this a disaster for Inward Investment/FDI marketers?

As marketers we're reassured when we see big numbers - for our mailing list, LinkedIn connections or website page views. But sometimes we're less comfortable at the next level of detail. How many of these contacts really engage with our marketing content? How many are genuinely relevant intermediaries or influencers? How many are real prospective inward investors?

The mass GDPR unsubscribe (or, more accurately 'non-subscribe') forces us all to confront these questions - a good thing, even if we may not like the answers.

An opportunity to do better marketing...

So what are we likely to find when we look into the GDPR mailing list ‘disaster’? First of all, some contacts will have chosen not to subscribe simply because our content is no longer relevant to them. That's good, we're cleaning up our list. After that it gets more difficult. Why are genuinely well-targeted, relevant contacts choosing not to sign up? This is where the 'disaster' becomes an opportunity - to look closely at how we do our marketing, and to do it better.

By choosing not to subscribe, our contacts make us ask some fundamental questions about how we do our jobs. Do we really understand their drivers as investing businesses or intermediaries? What are they searching for online and want so much that they'll actively choose to sign up for more of it? How can we align our business location offer with their needs, to make them really want to hear from us? What's the optimal mix of location data, news or case studies, and in which content formats (text, video, infographics etc.), to attract them and keep them engaged?

We can gain insights in these areas from our marketing analytics (how have different posts performed?) or by asking our contacts either formally (e.g. through surveys) or informally (by just asking them). The important thing is that this apparent disaster forces us to become better marketers.

So what are the likely consequences of GDPR for Inward Investment marketers?

First of all, it seems, most mailing lists are going to get much smaller, which may take some getting used to. But they'll also be much higher quality, because the people on them will be relevant, and genuinely want to be there!

On the inward investment marketer's side we can hope to see several positive consequences: better research to understand investor drivers, more targeted content to communicate value propositions and location data to them, more engaging content formats, more thought about investor interests when we select and share news stories. And then there's everything that goes with 'permission marketing' (i.e. marketing that people actually want!) - improved transparency and trust, leading to stronger client relationships. Put like that, it doesn't sound like such a disaster after all!

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