May 25th last year…


No longer could you simply market to someone because they downloaded some content. The content marketing dream died along with the consent your lead didn’t provide.

Companies had tried to re-permission contacts prior to GDPR to try and future proof their email marketing efforts (and probably broke the law in the process). At least one company simply deleted its entire email database.

Consent now needs to be freely given. And you can’t discriminate. To add insult to injury you can’t even prevent access to your content, as the law states people shouldn’t be penalised or disadvantaged if they choose not to consent.

You can’t even use anonymous Google Analytics cookies on your website without permission (You must tell people if you set cookies, and clearly explain what the cookies do and why. You must also get the user’s consent. Consent must be actively and clearly given. Do the rules still apply if the data is anonymous? Yes.)

“But this didn’t matter to us,” I heard you cry. “We’re B2B and the rules don’t apply. At least not in the same way.”

Does the GDPR apply to business-to-business marketing?

Yes. The GDPR applies wherever you are processing ‘personal data’. This means if you can identify an individual either directly or indirectly, the GDPR will apply – even if they are acting in a professional capacity. So, for example, if you have the name and number of a business contact on file, or their email address identifies them (eg, the GDPR will apply.

Does the GDPR mean we need consent for marketing?

Not always. Consent is one lawful basis for processing, but there are alternatives. In particular, you may be able to rely on ‘legitimate interests’ to justify some of your business-to-business marketing.

However, sometimes you will need consent to comply with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). See our Guide to PECR for more on when you need consent for electronic marketing.


Lawful Business

So, B2B is saved! Companies selling to other companies/organisations can use ‘legitimate interests’. After all, if a lead has downloaded content they have a legitimate interest right?

Thing is, even if they do, you still need to comply with the PECR.

Under PECR, direct marketing can be sent to employees working for corporates or public authorities without consent, on an opt-out basis.

However, the incoming Europe-wide (and Brexit won’t make a difference) ePrivacy regulation (ePR) is rumoured to reverse this and align B2B marketing with B2C.

Consent would be required for B2B marketing, no contact could be made without prior permission.


So what’s next?

Who’s going to willingly opt in to marketing? Especially B2B marketing.

We put this to our inbound technology partner.

They said:

“Agencies and customers who are using content strategy tools with pillar and cluster content are seeing higher conversions, and not reporting lower leads.

“Lead gen effectiveness is more closely aligned with changes to SEO than GDPR.

“Good quality leads always opted in and this is the same case now. We might see a drop off in lower quality leads, or find leads converting in other ways (less landing page conversions) such as meetings booked, via bots etc.”

What does this mean? Let me translate.

“SEO helps fill the bottom of the sales funnel and generate ready to buy leads.

“Get your SEO right and you’ll be fine.

“We’re changing our tune on inbound marketing.”

So is inbound dead?


It certainly looks like the nurturing sales funnel/flywheel approach the marketing auto software companies have been preaching about for so long is in jeopardy.

Especially if the ePR insists on B2B consent.


There’s more to inbound marketing than building landing pages and sending nurture emails.

Inbound is about making leads come to you. And one of the most effective way of doing that?

PR-led SEO.

What is PR-led SEO then?

Fundamentally it’s about using online brand building to ensure your website appears in search engines when someone searches for a thing you sell.

And it’s important to be as high up the search engine results as possible. Because the closer you get to #1 the greater the click through rate (CTR) and the more you sell.

Click through rate indicators vary, but this chart shows organic CTR for searches coming from 9,390,203 keywords for 82,646 websites.

Desktop #1 position CTR: 35%

Mobile #1 position CTR: 28%

So if there are 100 searches for a keyword on a desktop you get 35 if you rank first right?

Nope. Because not everyone who searches for something in Google clicks on a result. Here are some stats on click behaviour following a Google search.


So by this logic if there are 100 searches a month for a keyword on a desktop, and 63 of those actually click on an organic result, then you could snare 35% (remember the desktop #1 position CTR stat above) of those 63 clicks, which works out as 22 clicks per search. This is versus the paid results.

If we take the average CTR for search ads (PPC) – 3.17% – then we have the following calculation:

4% of 100 = 4

3.17% of 4 = 1 click per search

So there you go – rank first, don’t pay for your clicks and get 22 clicks per 100 searches, OR pay for your clicks and get one click per 100 searches.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve used the #1 CTR for my organic calculation and an average CTR for my paid calculation (only because I didn’t have a first placed PPC CTR), but as I’m sure you can work out, it’s nowhere near as high as the organic CTR and regardless of how high it is, you’re still only working with 4% of the search volume.


The best bit is, Google wants you to be good at SEO! It’s updated it’s starter guide, it’s produced a video on how to pick a good SEO agency (and how to avoid one that’ll do a lot of damage), it’s revealed the most important keyword ranking factors, it’s appointed a public SEO liaison, it’s even detailed how it does its own SEO!

So, if you want to know how to use online brand building to raise awareness and credibility AND generate leads, then maybe we should chat. Or you could just keep spending on PPC. Up to you really.