GDPR, Tom Pumford, ParkerMather, Unsplash
Read on so you do not end up like this guy. (Credit: Tom Pumford/Unsplash)


General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, refers to a unified set of data protection regulations that give individuals greater control over how their personal data is used and obligates companies operating in the European Union to transparently and securely handle data of individuals. The EU adopted GDPR in May 2016, and it will be in effect on May 25, 2018.

In the wake of Facebook’s most recent data management challenges, companies operating in Europe will give particular care to the EU’s mandate.

According to John Kelleher, General Counsel at HubSpot, there are four guiding principles of the GDPR:

  1. Companies must keep and process personal data for a specific reason(s). This means you must explain how user data will be used — to the user.
  2. Companies must provide users with a copy of their personal data and update it upon request. This means users must have an option to save the form or have it sent to them.
  3. Companies may only keep user data if it is necessary and must delete it when they longer need it. (That means padding your email list with inactive contacts is unwise.)
  4. Companies must ensure that data is up to date and securely stored.

The GDPR makes customer consent and reasons for using data clear in the beginning. This addresses the uncertainty that can exist around consent among marketers, sales teams and customers.

The transparency GDPR introduces, Kelleher said, is “a lot about opting in, about consenting, about [customers] agreeing to” certain uses of data.

What is HubSpot doing?

On April 30, HubSpot hosted a live Q&A with staffers Kelleher and Tom Monaghan, the company’s Director of Product, to share how the EU standard impacts sales and marketing teams in the U.S.

While HubSpot will be GDPR compliant by May 25, the company has also formed an internal cross-functional working group and launched a data center in Frankfurt, Germany to expand its EU cloud infrastructure.

Monaghan announced that HubSpot is rolling out product changes to support GDPR compliance. He highlighted four areas that they launched or improved:

  1. GDPR feature toggle: This will be rolled out soon and available to select HubSpot customers.
  2. Lawful basis of processing: Kelleher focused on three parts: Performance of a contract, consent, and a legitimate interest. First, companies must have a legal reason for using customer data, such as sending billing statements covered in the contract. Second is consent as the customer must opt-in to communication, be able to opt-out of communication, know how information is being used, and be able to gain access to her/his data within a reasonable time. Third is legitimate interest as companies must provide information about where the company obtained the information and an option to unsubscribe.
  3. Cookies: HubSpot will soon support localization of cookie notices and cookie consent notifications. Localization will allow users to see notifications in a customized language and format. The notifications will be available in time for the GDPR deadline on May 25. Customers also will soon be able to revoke cookie access.
  4. Access/portability and deletion: HubSpot users can already export and delete individual customer contacts. A soft deletion means you can recover the profile for up to 90 days after whereas a “hard deletion” permanently removes the customer profile. If the customer signs up again, it will be treated as a new record.

Monaghan anticipates non-EU HubSpot users using GDPR compliant features because “these really are the way that customers are going, and that inbound is going.”

This future of inbound marketing is still focused on building trust. For example, HubSpot forms offer an unchecked box that the customer can select to show consent and capture the terms, as well as when the customer consented.

“If someone does not provide consent, you need a mechanism to provide that content,” Kelleher said.

If a user wants to download an ebook but does not want her data processed, HubSpot forms will automatically provide a link in the form to download the ebook. In this case, the user data will not be deleted because it was never stored in the HubSpot’s database.

Finally, HubSpot users will have control over their access to and use of the GDPR feature toggle. The toggle will be available to select HubSpot users.

How does GDPR impact my business?

For HubSpot customers, the platform laid a foundation for one of the most responsive data management workflows available to sales and marketing organizations. From the GDPR feature toggle to data portability features, HubSpot is equipping businesses with a suite of tools to mitigate risk in its customer activities.

For users, GDPR gives greater control over how and how long your data is used. The European standard requires companies to be deliberate when they request personal information, responsible in storing that information, and thorough in disposing of that data.

Why should Americans care about an EU regulation?

The GDPR is the dominant model for handling customer data and increasing transparency about personal data usage by companies. The GDPR could serve as a model for U.S. legislation even though it only currently impacts companies and business interactions in EU member nations.

Facebook is the most recent example of compromised systems around user data and acquiring consent. However over the last few years, major unrelated incidents around user data have dominated U.S. headlines.

European courts have continuously erred on the side of the user. In May 2014, the EU ordered search engines in Europe to remove compromising information about individuals. According to a research paper, Google alone received 650,000 requests and removed over 40%. In June 2017, the courts fined Google $2.7 billion for anti-competitive price comparisons in search results.

If adoption is significant, the GDPR could easily move from an EU standard to a de facto global data management standard.

What HubSpot resources are available to comply with GDPR?

Since January, HubSpot has released several resources to help organizations prepare for the May 25 GDPR implementation deadline. Here are a few of the HubSpot resources at your disposal:

This blog post originally appeared on the Philadelphia HubSpot User Group blog, which you should read.

Mikhail Bell, Diversity, Women's March

The following post appeared on the Philadelphia HUG blog, where I have been writing most recently. 

Women’s History Month elevates the entrepreneurial contributions of half our population for 30 days. As a male ally, I believe it is also an opportunity to initiate meaningful action around diversity that lasts all year.

Female inventors have transformed our world and sadly most of us scarcely noticed. Marie Curie was the first person to win two Nobel prizes for discovering radioactivity with her husband (1903) and two new elements (1911). Grace Hopper invented one of the first computer language translators and popularized the term debugging. Rosalind Franklin, a British scientist, was part of the team that discovered DNA.

According to a 2015 Department of Labor issue brief, American women represent approximately 47% of the workforce.

Among unemployed women, African American women are the hardest hit and face the longest time out of work. Women in this group, have a 70% higher unemployment rate compared to the national average (8.9% vs 5.2%). Similarly, median time out of work was 14 weeks, which is about 40% longer than their Asian and White female counterparts.

In technology fields, the 80-20 distribution applies to executives. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Diversity in High Tech special report found that women account for 20% of technology executives.

The private sector is more meritocratic than “high tech” jobs as female executives represent 29% of senior leaders. This disparity is most acute at some of the top technology companies, as this uncharacteristically informal paragraph from the EEOC indicates:

“At Google, women make up 30 percent of the company’s overall workforce, but hold only 17 percent of the company’s tech jobs. At Facebook, 15 percent of tech roles are staffed by women. At Twitter, it’s a laughable 10 percent. For non-technical jobs at Twitter (think marketing, HR, sales), the gender split is 50-50.”


Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the overlooked contributions from half of the population. Americans may disagree about politics, marketers may debate strategy, but one thing is clear.

When it comes to diversifying our executive roles and giving women greater access to the workforce, there is plenty of room to improve as women disproportionately underrepresented.

How can women and non-white marketing professionals make their qualifications pop? HubSpot’s free certifications are one of several courses that will show you professional growth and underscore your leadership potential to employers.

On that note, you may want to get started!



The Grand Budapest Hotel - Zero Mustafa and M. Gustave

This post is a 10,000-foot view of the purpose and process behind a social media strategy. Social media is versatile so its role in the overall business strategy looks different based on one’s industry and company. Ideally, a business will define the social media strategy its strategic plan or digital strategy.

What is a social media strategy?

Opening death letter Ed Norton - The Grand Budapest Hotel copy

Social media strategy is a compass for your communications activities. You may still see social media growth and interaction without a defined strategy. However, the meaning of the growth and interactions will be unclear.

The strategy should be shared with, created with and supported by decision makers in your business as it should complement business goals.

Examples of goals:

  • Serve as a secondary channel to address customer service issues
  • Increase jarware sales
  • Amplify share of voice among local pizza delivery customers

A weak social media strategy explains incongruous goals and what platforms will assist in reach them. It is produced.

A good social media strategy explains your related goals and actions that will help you reach them.

A great social media strategy explains related goals, target audience, related actions (by platform), and required resources.

[Further reading: Why most social media strategies fail (Forbes)]

How to write a social media strategy

Zero Mustafa Agatha and M. Gustave - The Grand Budapest Hotel

An effective social media strategy has four parts: Goals, Audience Analysis, Activities, and Capacity, or GAAC.

Goals (What you want to accomplish)

Identify 2-5 business related goals. For simple goals, think in terms of a 12-month cycle. For multi-stage goals, plan along a 12- to 36- month timeline. Account for implementation challenges and make sure your team can collect information to assess what is working.

Audience Analysis (Who you want to reach)

This is one of the most challenging steps because it requires specificity. Here are characteristics that can help you identify your target audience:

  • Profession: Each year, Americans spend around 2,000 hours at work. That impacts when we wake, sleep and how we spend our income.
  • Income: What you make impacts how you live. Consider how this may impact the way the audience searches for, talks about, and interacts with a product/business.
  • Age: Think about these groups in 10-20 year windows, e.g. 15-25 or 35-55, to find your core audience(s).
  • Location: Is your audience local, spread across a few states or a few countries? This inform how you create content.
  • Gender: Is your audience predominantly male or female? This will affect your tone, colors, fonts, and messaging.

Personas are a helpful way to think about your target audience. Here is a useful HubSpot article to guide this exercise.

[Further reading: Buyer Persona Template (HubSpot)]

Activities (What you are doing)

Describe relevant social media platforms and activities. Be clear about how many times you will create content each week, i.e. 3-5 times on Facebook, or each day, i.e. 2-3 posts on Twitter.

Social media platforms are large enough now that a be-everywhere strategy is not optimal. For example, according to VaynerMedia’s Gary Vaynerchuk, the fastest growing demographic on Instagram is women over 40. If your target audience is in middle or high school, plan to incorporate Yik Yak, Snapchat, or Tumblr.

Finally, set growth goals with soft deadlines and review periods, such as a semi-annual review. You will need to look at your business’s past performance and competitors to determine reliable growth goals.

Capacity (What you need for success)

Small and medium businesses are investing more in social media but are typically understaffed in the area of communication. Explaining what you need to be successful aligns expectations with goals and goals with necessary resources.

Be transparent about the number of weekly hours to implement, budget for advertising, analytics or management tools, training and additional staff support.

If you are requesting financial support to implement the strategy, state this. As Warren Buffett says, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Final Thoughts

Inspector Ed Norton - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Developing and implementing a social media strategy can be a fun or laborious process but involves teamwork. Here are few tips to improve the experience:

  • Celebrate milestones
  • Involve a team of decision makers because they can support the plan
  • Keep management updated about progress
  • Ask for feedback about your strategy from others who have done the same
  • Schedule regular check-ins to discuss updates

Additional Resources

Social Media Usage: 2005-2015 (Pew)

Social Media Campaign Strategy (Hootsuite)

Understanding Social Media Analytics (Deloitte Digital)

Thank you for taking the time to read this. This blog post will also appear on Medium and LinkedIn. Please share your comments wherever this appears.