Many companies are making the best of the current shutdown by tackling typically set aside “rainy day” projects. Based on lessons learned from the implementation of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe two years ago, we offer two such ideas for marketers who utilize a Product Information Management (PIM) system. While GDPR is certainly no comparison to the devastating scale of a pandemic, it nonetheless created upheaval with the way businesses interacted with customers and forced us to reconsider some of our marketing practices. And, even in the face of the pandemic, it may be limiting the way that you are able to reach prospective customers.
GDPR: Curse or blessing?
A large segment of the marketing world sees GDPR as a positive in the sense that its rules brought order and limits to the unfettered use of customer’s personal information. Before the GDPR, “privacy” was vulnerable and hackable. Now consumers are free to opt-out and “disappear” from the digital space if they so choose. Companies must comply with data security protection standards or face stiff penalties. GDPR has caused many companies to reexamine the customer data they collect to determine what information is truly important to the business.
The price tag to maintain levels of pre-GDPR data is hefty. Perhaps only the largest companies can afford to do that and survive. For medium and small businesses, there are ways to navigate GDPR’s waters and still reach customers — even ones who don’t want to be contacted directly.
Make your products more visible
Our first thought concerns your products and services vs. their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results. When was the last time you examined your website analytics to see how you are performing? When did you last browse the web like a shopper using popular keywords to hunt for your products?
If your products or services aren’t turning up at or near the top, it’s time to upgrade your PIM eCommerce content. Use this downtime to enrich your product and service descriptions. Make your content unique. Add keywords to the copy. Improve image searchability by adding alt-tags/metadata. Follow the rules of Google Analytics. Optimize your categories to make them more intuitive. Purge your site of duplicated content that hurts your SEO.
By elevating your rankings in search results, you raise the visibility of your brand and drive more traffic to your site. The “browsing” customers —shoppers who are not necessarily looking FOR you or anyone else — stand a better chance of FINDING you. Upgrade your SEO standings, and you boost your chances in the digital space with no impact on GDPR. And, with the global increase in online shopping as we focus on social distancing, ensuring that your products are findable is critical as more companies seek to improve their digital presence.
Reach out with print
Our second thought takes an easier alternate path through GDPR. Use print.
The COVID-19 quarantine has placed an inevitable distance between companies and customers. Without contact with your customers, relationships can weaken, even with long-standing loyal buyers. The good news is that (a) GDPR rules for direct mail are very straightforward, and (b) even in quarantine customers may be reachable by mail. You want to stay in their minds, and direct mail can help you do it.
From your PIM, you can get very creative with your outbound messaging:
- A card reminding your customers that you are there to support them when they need you
- A free product sample in a customized box
- A discount on products or services that can be provided or delivered during the quarantine
- Do-it-yourself advice on how to make something useful in a pinch, like household cleaner
- Safety tips
- Double-up rewards for your loyalty programs
- A note about your community service efforts during the pandemic, encouraging customers to share their stories on your social media pages
In the current context, direct mail should be tasteful and respect the predicament we all share.
None of us has a crystal ball to foresee the “new normal” to come. But, with a little planning, you can adapt and prepare for the looming scramble.
Don’t have a PIM? Maybe it’s time to think about one. A PIM is an investment in your company’s future. The efficiencies a PIM provides pay dividends for years after its initial ROI.