When the Europeans implemented GDPR, every marketing automation company in an attempt to not be the poster child for evil, asked their lawyers for advice on how to become compliant.
And once let off their leashes, these legal minds went to work and functionally neutered marketing automation platforms (MAP), not just for use in Europe, but globally.
One of the most interesting features of MAP for B2B companies, is the ability to identify from IP addresses which companies visit your website, and understand the pathways they take through your website. In itself this knowledge is not per-se a lead, but it provides a valuable understanding of how you are engaging with companies. Unless you are luckily enough to have got someone to engage through a direct digital communication (email for example) or have been able to cookie their browser, you may not know exactly who you are looking at, just the company they work for. But in the world of B2B which you can be very specific about personas this can be enough to identify a department or even a specific role, and this in the hands of a B2B Account Based Sales team is pure gold.
But here’s where GDPR broke this model. Using IP Lookup is only as good as the data companies load into their name servers, and if a name server says Japan or USA, this doesn’t mean that the person who you are engaging with isn’t in Europe or a European, and according to GDPR, you need to have their express permission to use their “data” before you can report on it. So, your purer that pure, angel of a marketing automation vendor doesn’t want to provide you data that may not be perfectly GDPR compliant, even it it’s not European data… just in case.
In a world where we all receive calls at 6:30 every night while we're eating dinner from people trying to sell us insurance, you can see why the EU is so hot on policing this stuff, but there must be a middle ground.
I’ve been able to build a process using by websites log files and an open source IP lookup tool and a talented PHP savvy team member to resolve my specific need. But I know every other B2B company is feeling the same pain.
B2B marketing is not B2C and we can use focused tools without blanket bombing the world with phone calls and emails. And there are safe ways for MAP companies to set rules by which B2B companies can analyze data without breaking GDPR rules. What is not acceptable is for MAP companies to limit functionality.