Waves of data privacy laws are sweeping the globe and putting pressure on businesses everywhere to comply — or face the consequences. 

Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) has been in effect since 2000. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) followed 20 years later. 

But the mother of all user rights laws is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which established global privacy standards on May 25th, 2018. 

Although the regulation is based in the European Union (EU), any company that collects, sells, or buys the data of EU citizens must comply with the stringent guidelines of the GDPR. 

How Can I Use CRM Systems for GDPR Compliance?

One of the likely factors holding back businesses from meeting the mark with GDPR compliance is the overwhelming breadth of duties and practices necessitated by the regulation. 

Companies aren’t quite sure where to begin, or how to go about tackling the many guidelines laid out by the GDPR.

What many don’t realize is that they may already have a tool for GDPR compliance in their back pocket. If leveraged properly, certain CRM systems can help you meet the requirements of the GDPR, along with other incoming privacy laws and data-handling best practices. 

But how? 

Here are three of the biggest ways CRM systems can help you comply with the GDPR:

1. Organize user data for easy access

If you manage your contacts and user data through CRM systems, you already have a huge asset when it comes to GDPR compliance — centralized customer information. 

One of the fundamental jobs of CRM systems are to house the droves of customer data that businesses have to deal with. 

Having all your contact information in an accessible, centralized location is a critical feature of your GDPR compliance game plan. 

According to GDPR Articles 15, 16, and 17, users now have the right to request to access, edit, transfer, and delete the information that businesses store.  

Users can exercise these rights through forms called Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR). If a user submits a DSAR, you have only 30 days to respond and take the requested action in order to be compliant with the GDPR. 

Complying with this requirement can be a major headache if you don’t have a single source of truth.

Companies that neglect to use CRM systems will often find that their data is strewn about in different systems, storage, and files (and used by different departments) making universal changed a nightmare, and privacy violations a real possibility. 

This is when it comes in handy to have that users’ data easily accessible in a CRM system. 

2. Manage consent 

Not only can your CRM systems compile and store your user data in one location, but it can also track and hold accompanying information that is critical for GDPR compliance —  legitimate interest. 

According to Article 6 of the GDPR, businesses who collect and process data must do so under one of 6 legal bases:

  1. User Consent
  2. Legitimate Interests
  3. Contractual Necessity
  4. Vital Interest of the User
  5. Legal Obligation
  6. Public Interest

Many companies live in fear of #1 – User Consent. But take a look at #2: Legitimate Interests. 

In addition to giving consent by opting in, marketers are permitted to process personal data where they have a “legitimate interest” in doing so that is not overridden by a person’s fundamental rights or interests. 

GDPR states specifically: “The processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.”

A word about “legitimate interest”: We’re not talking spam. We don’t mean mass-emailing all 19,638 records in your CRM to tell them about your new product feature. 

Legitimate interest can only be achieved if you’re able to segment your contacts to the degree that any email marketing message would be personalized and highly relevant. With accurate and detailed data and specific goals, you can adhere to EU law without fear.

3. Maintain data security 

When it comes to CRM solutions, you’ve probably heard the term “cloud-based” tossed around more and more frequently. And when it comes to the GDPR, you’ve inevitably heard the phrase “data security” peppered into the conversation. 

So what do the two have in common? 

As it turns out, the growing trend toward cloud-based CRM (CRM systems that are hosted by the cloud and can be accessed through the internet) is largely due to its inherent security features. 

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Learn how ZoomInfo adapts to data privacy regulations: The Long Road to Data Privacy Compliance

Meeting security standards and maintaining data breach protocols (as cloud-based CRM does) are two critical elements of GDPR compliance. 

GDPR article 32 states that:

“The controller and the processor shall implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk…”

The GDPR (along with other recent privacy measures) places responsibility on businesses to keep the data they collect safe at all costs. 

By using a cloud-based CRM solution, you’re making an effort to protect your users’ data — and protect yourself from the excruciating penalties of the GDPR.

The Future of Data Privacy Compliance Lies with Your Tech Stack

While GDPR compliance is on the top of most companies’ to-do lists right now, keep in mind that the EU regulation is only the precedent in a new era of data rights and practice standards. 

In fact, the compliance aspects mentioned above – data access, user consent, and data security – all overlap with provisions in the CCPA.

Data privacy rules and regulations are on the rise, with no slowdown in sight.

While doing this can often be difficult and overwhelming, there are ways to ease the burden. CRM systems are, no doubt, one of those ways. 

With CRM and GDPR knowledge, you have one more tool in your belt, and one less worry when it comes to complying with the GDPR.

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About the author


ZoomInfo combines the leading business contact database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to always hit your number.

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