GTM in Germany: How to Create an Effective, Compliant Strategy

Launching a go-to-market strategy in Germany can be tricky due to the complexity of local regulations and guidance. Between the GDPR and ePrivacy guidelines, there is a lot to consider to ensure your business remains compliant.

In order to avoid fines, penalties, and breaking customer trust, it’s important to understand key privacy laws in Germany and how to go to market in an effective, compliant way. 

EU GDPR

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the global standard for data privacy. Enacted in 2018, the GDPR requires organizations to have a lawful basis for processing personal data. 

There are six ways to meet the lawful basis requirement

  1. Consent
  2. Contract
  3. Legal Obligation
  4. Vital Interests
  5. Public Task
  6. Legitimate Interest

The GDPR states that all lawful bases are equally valid, meaning that no one lawful basis takes precedence over another. The GDPR outlines the requirements that need to be met in order to rely on a particular lawful basis. It is accepted that marketing activities must usually rely on either “consent” or “legitimate interest.” 

ePrivacy Considerations

Germany enacted the EU’s ePrivacy directive via the “Gesetzgegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb” (Law Against Unfair Competition), often referred to as the UWG.

Germany has some of the most restrictive regulations around cold email, with regulators and case law stating that a “double opt-in” consent model is required to send marketing emails within the country. 

Double opt-in is a two-stage process. The user must take an action to opt in, and then must confirm their opt-in by taking a second action. For example, signing up to a mailing list on a website is the first action, and affirming that consent through a confirmation email link is the second action.

The rules around telemarketing in a B2B context are more relaxed, making telemarketing a viable go-to-market channel in Germany. 

The German UWG generally deems the following ways of marketing to be justifiable:

  • Email marketing to existing customers if the email address was obtained within a business relationship and if the customer has been properly informed under Article 13 GDPR.
  • Telephone marketing to other market participants if their implied consent can be presumed.
    • “Other market participants” refers to any person or entity that is not acting as a consumer — in other words, B2B telemarketing can be acceptable. 
    • Implied consent, in this context, means that the product or service you intend to market will be directly related to the business needs of your target audience. As such, utilizing ZoomInfo to find businesses that are in the market for your products and services will help you meet the bar for implied consent. 

The German UWG generally deems the following ways of marketing to be prohibited:

  • Telephone marketing to consumers without their explicit consent.
  • Email marketing to customers without consent or a previous business relationship (see exception above).
  • Any marketing communication where the identity of the sender, on whose behalf the communication is transmitted, is concealed or kept secret.

How to Use ZoomInfo in Germany 

ZoomInfo provides access to relevant business data in a compliant and responsible way. Each platform contains features and safeguards to support your GTM strategy. 

Email

Email marketing is a very restrictive channel in Germany and cold emailing is not permitted without consent. 

Emailing existing customers is permissible if the conditions of the UWG are met. You can use ZoomInfo data to enrich your database of customer contacts and ensure the data you hold is accurate and up to date. In doing so, you also increase the likelihood that marketing emails will resonate with your customers.  

Telemarketing

The UWG’s allowance of implied consent for B2B telemarketing makes Legitimate Interest a viable route for GDPR- and ePrivacy-compliant telemarketing in Germany. ZoomInfo’s wide range of direct dials and mobile phone numbers are a key asset for these programs.

Businesses could use telemarketing as a channel to generate consent for email marketing, converting the prospect to an inbound, consent-based contact. With ZoomInfo Engage, revenue professionals can send emails, make calls, and track call activity within the platform.

Advertising

Using ZoomInfo data such as intent signals can help you build an audience list for sales and marketing teams to target. Intent data is a great way to create a list of customers who are showing interest in your products. With MarketingOS, you can automatically launch display and social ad campaigns based on customers with high intent.

Inbound

Expectations and attitudes to cold marketing in Germany are different to those elsewhere across the EU and the globe. Many ZoomInfo customers see great success pivoting to an inbound sales and marketing motion across Germany and other DACH regions. 

Driving traffic to your website via digital advertising, event marketing and other non-broadcast channels can create more inbound traffic. Using ZoomInfo’s product suite, including FormComplete, can lead to more conversions from your web traffic by simplifying the user experience. 

Get Started Today

Expanding your GTM strategy into a new region can be complicated depending on the local privacy regulations and laws. Rather than run the risk of penalties and fines, it’s important to understand how to adjust your strategy in each new region. Here are some helpful resources we recommend checking out specifically for conducting business in Germany:

Learn how ZoomInfo can help your team seamlessly expand into new regions in a compliant, privacy-first way.

Note: The above article is for informational purposes only. ZoomInfo is not qualified to provide legal advice of any kind, and is not an authority on the interpretation of US or international laws, rules, or regulations. To understand how the GDPR, EU marketing laws, or any other laws impact you or your business, you should seek independent advice from qualified legal counsel.