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How to Be GDPR Compliant in 2021 and Beyond

It’s been almost a year since the GDPR was put into effect which caused a fundamental shift in the marketing landscape. And with the global need to enforce transparency between businesses and users, it looks like few other countries have followed suit.

The reason why GDPR came to exist in the first place was because of the massive digital disruption, especially the internet. Users demanded more control when it came to their data storage and usage, eventually resulting in the adoption of strict measures to tackle data breach.

The General Data Protection Regulation is a new law that applies to any large or small organization holding personal data on European Union users. Personal data can be any bit of information that can be used to identify a person. This includes your:

  • Photos
  • Political beliefs
  • Identification information such as phone number, name, location, government id numbers
  • Sexual orientation
  • Racial, ethnic or cultural data
  • Website data such as name, usernames, password, digital identification number, unique identification number, IP address, cookie history and RFID tags or any other information that reveals the identity of an individual.

The implementation of the GDPR means that business, retail and social websites will now be held accountable for collecting, processing and dispersing any data on a European citizen.

How is GDPR Going to Affect Websites in the US? 

While the new law may be intended to protect personal data and information of the European citizens, this has certainly caused a ripple effect on businesses worldwide. And US is no exception to this either. Failing to comply with the law could cost you a hefty amount of up to 20 million Euros ($23,714,240 U.S. dollars) or 4% of your annual revenue, whichever is higher. Fortunately, we’ve broken down some of the important guidelines to ensure you’re absolutely compliant with GDPR.

So listen up and make a note of these: 

Get Organized

To ensure you never get in trouble, start by storing all kinds of data in an orderly and organized fashion. This includes personal information and data on your customer, supplier and employee. Not only is this helpful for making sure that the individual’s information is in one place but you’ll be able to produce them up on request and as quickly as possible. Also make sure that you don’t hold on to any data unnecessarily in your system. It’s very important to know what data you have on people and why, as this will prevent the unlikely event of penalty in case you’re ever investigated by the GDPR.

Switch to Content-based Approach

One of the main stipulations of GDPR is that companies must ask for user’s consent before collecting their personal Information. You must allow for people to positively opt-in before going ahead with sending them promotional emails, newsletters etc.  If you’re going to use someone’s data for marketing purposes then it’s a MUST that you ask for their consent first. Unlike the usual process wherein the websites would have a pre-ticked box saying they can use your data for whatever reason, now users have full control of whether they want to be on the mailing list or not. Here’s an example

Additionally, you can also have a layered opt-in form that allows users or visitors to better understand how their data is going to be collected and used. This will give them more clarity in terms of cookie policy, privacy policy etc. Here’s an example 

Make sure that you have a fair processing policy that explains what data you’re collecting from users and why. Instead of using vague and legal jargon, explain these terms in a comprehensive and precise manner, preferably in layman’s language.

Also make it really easy for users to opt-out of the subscriptions. For emails, text messages etc make sure that there’s additional information at the bottom in case they want to opt-out.

Take Security Measures

It’s also very important that you keep your data safe and secure. In order to avoid your data from being hacked, misplaced or leaked, make sure that you’re taking all the security measures to keep your data safe. When storing you data digitally consider a few things such as

  • Securing your devices with anti-virus software
  • If the data is stored up in cloud how you are keeping it safe?
  • If your devices were lost could you remotely wipe off all of the data?

Likewise, if your data is stored in the form of hardcopy, what are the safety measures you’ve taken to keep them secure? Take a risk assessment program so you can find out what you’ve done so far and what you can do next. 

Be Responsible

For your business to thrive and prosper, it is absolutely necessary to be responsible towards your customers. If a user wants their data wiped from your system, make sure you oblige. Also, see to it that they don’t receive any more mails or notifications from your company afterwards. Be sure to train your team regarding this process; everyone on the team should be notified so you can avoid the consequences.

Another step you can implement to ensure that this system works is by appointing a DPO or Data Protection Officer. A DPO in charge can oversee this process and make sure that nothing’s amiss.

How will GDPR affect your Marketing Efforts?

Common misconception by most businesses is that implementation of GDPR, especially the addition of opt-in and opt-out features may render their conversion rates low. This isn’t completely true. Websites like neilpatel.com saw no changes whatsoever, Eric Siu said his website singlegrain.com actually saw an increase of approximately 10% post GDPR. So mileages may vary depending on the website and how you approach it. 

Things to Remember

Make sure to avoid any chance of risks by training everyone on your team about GDPR. Your website is a contract between you and your customers. And the last thing you want is a loophole in your system. Ensure that all the information regarding privacy and cookies are written in simple language and there’s no misunderstanding. Websites like Privacy Shield and Disclaimer Template are helping US businesses become more GDPR compliant; also, you can go ahead and get more information from attorneys who specialize in this division.