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Strategic and tactical innovation in healthcare communications under the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has had many companies focused on data storage, processing and compliance over the last 12-24 months – and rightly so. 

As of last week, we have seen that the GDPR has teeth and that regulators intend to enforce the rules. The French regulator has recently aimed a €50M (£44M) fine at Google, for “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalisation”. The regulator said it judged that people were “not sufficiently informed” about how Google collected data to personalise advertising. So, a healthy focus on these issues is warranted. 

But the GDPR needn’t have you scared, and it definitely shouldn’t be limiting your commercial success. It is not designed to hamstring businesses nor stop you building valued, long-term relationships with your customers.

Instead, the GDPR offers businesses with the right mindset an opportunity to reset and revalue their relationships with customers and the way they share information with them. 

The key to success is to think about how you can lead with value. One of the core concepts within the GDPR is ‘legitimate interest’. This rather subjective term is designed to encourage businesses to think carefully about what information is of interest and value to their customers. In the world of healthcare, this term is poignant as it encourages us to carefully consider how we can add value to the day-to-day working lives of healthcare professionals. Companies which can achieve this, can use this as a basis for developing long-term relationships that are GDPR compliant. 

One of the most widely felt impacts of the GDPR is the change to rules regarding emails. The essence of these changes is about giving all of us more control over what emails we receive and who from – most of us will have relished the feeling of a quieter inbox. In practical terms, for most marketers this has meant that their email lists have been dramatically cut as it is no longer appropriate to email customers who haven’t provided informed consent. With diminishing returns, many marketers may have abandoned email altogether, but in our view, this would be a mistake. Instead, businesses should be thinking about ways of rebuilding email databases that are focused on adding value. Email is going to remain a key mechanism for engaging customers. Businesses which can successfully rebuild GDPR compliant databases are going to have a competitive edge now and in the future. 

Rebuilding email databases is likely to take time, so it is prudent to consider other tactics that can reach customers in the short term. This is where the GDPR concepts of ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ are important. Unlike emails which are considered an ‘opt-in’ tactic, i.e. you must have permission from the recipient first, direct mail and telemarketing are two mechanisms which are considered ‘opt-out’, i.e. you can contact the customer without prior permission. This crucial difference has led to many in the industry predicting a rise in these traditional (non-digital) forms of marketing. 

Whatever your approach, nine months on, most companies are still adapting to the full effects of the GDPR, but as with all challenges, this can be seen as an opportunity to innovate and change faster that the competition. 

Want to know more about strategic and tactical innovation under the GDPR?

At Enzyme Communications, we are offering organisations in the healthcare sector face-to-face updates on the GDPR and what it means for healthcare communications. These sessions focus on linking GDPR rules through to strategic planning and tactical implementation – making them perfect for marketers looking for ways to innovate. 

If you would like to book a time for our GDPR masterclass, please email us at hello@enzymecomms.com or give us a call on +44 (0) 20 8058 8389.