The GDPR will bring the protection of personal data into focus across all facets of business life, and this is going to alter our approach to B2B email marketing.

In the past, we’ve relied on buying emails in bulk and blanket-mailing to other firms’ inboxes. But this will come to an end under the GPDR, whose new culture of consent will introduce new behaviours that prioritise email recipients’ data security over maximising our campaign reach.

Culture of consent

As defined by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s regulatory authority for the GDPR, consent…

“should be given by a clear affirmative act establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her, such as by a written statement, including by electronic means, or an oral statement.”

Failure to opt out of marketing communications will no longer be sufficient. After May 25th, the firms that you want to open a marketing dialogue with will have to know:

  • The identity of your organisation, together with clear contact details
  • What will happen with the recipients’ data should opt-in be chosen
  • How that data will be stored
  • Why the data will be needed, and for how long
  • The data subject’s rights.
Organisations will have to convey these details as part of a broader privacy notice, which should inform all pathways to compliance. The terms in this notice will have to be easily understandable, not deeply buried within further terms and conditions.

Gaining consent

But what of the contacts that we already possess? Simply put, these may have to be renewed in order to comply to the GDPR. And it should be done pretty quickly, because after May 25th, you won’t be permitted to reach out to these organisations in order to ask for consent.

Alternatives pathways to consent

Consent is the headline announcement, but the GDPR does permit five other valid pathways for B2B marketing: These are:

  • Data processing being necessary as part of a contract
  • The existence of a legal obligation
  • The need to protect the vital interests of an individual
  • The need to protect public interests
  • The existence of legitimate interest, unless this clashes with the data subject’s rights or freedoms.
Legitimate interest is a key point, because many marketers may find this covers them when they reach out to other organisations.

For legitimate interest to exist, there must be a “relevant and appropriate” relationship between the data subject and the data controller, according to the GDPR guidelines.

The precise definition of legitimate interest is still being hammered out, but if a communication can be judged as necessary and not stepping on the interests of the recipient, then legitimacy can be argued. You might also have a case if the email marketing is part of a broader campaign.

B2B marketing won’t disappear under the GDPR, rather, the winners in all this will be the marketers and business owners who see the huge opportunities in future-proofing their databases.

Hear the expert view

You can iron out the particulars on B2B marketing and all other aspects of the GDPR’s impact on your business at GDPR Conference Europe: Roadmap for Sales and Marketing.

Supported by Henley Business School, this one-day event is packed with advice and actionable insight from key UK authorities on the forthcoming legislative changes.

The Conference takes place on March 8th at 200 Aldersgate, London. It will feature 10 keynote presentations and live panel discussions; delegates will benefit from case studies, specialist guidance, practical steps to compliance and much more.

The GDPR Summit Series, are offering a 2-4-1 Saint Sale from March 1st to March 17th (St David’s Day to St Patrick’s Day). This price also includes a complimentary compliance package worth £350 to aid your journey after the event.

To see the conference agenda or to book tickets, click here.

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help businesses to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond.

Further information and conference details are available at