A brand’s attitude toward GDPR compliance is directly linked to a commitment to customer experience, the CMO Council found in a white paper released on Wednesday.

GDPR: Impact and Opportunity—How Marketing Leaders Addressed GDPR Readiness and Compliance” is based on an online survey of over 227 senior marketing executives during March, April and the beginning of May.

The survey discovered two schools of thought, which the CMO Council divided into “leaders” and “laggards.” While Leaders see the opportunity to secure trust, loyalty and experience, Laggards assume GDPR is someone else’s problem. In fact, 39 percent of this group did not feel GDPR applied to them.

Among those deemed Leaders, however, 55 percent had already initiated some form of data audit to fully understand how customer data was stored and collected.

“There was an overwhelming commitment that the organization needed to or had already conducted a data audit to understand where data was coming from, how they were aggregating and collecting that data and how they were securing and using that data in a responsible manner,” Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing at the CMO Council told AList. “In a world where you have to know all those things in order to be GDPR compliant, the fact that there were marketers who had yet to engage in any of those audits was a bit startling.”

Some marketers assume GDPR doesn’t apply to their job, Miller speculated, but what other data the company has gathered would actually be beneficial.

“The reality of today’s business ecosystem is that far too often, marketing looks at data in its own silo,” said Miller. “Yet when it comes to customer experience, customer data is actually being aggregated, stored and utilized for the purposes of customer engagement in a multitude of different places [finance, marketing, etc.]. When marketing only looking at marketing data, not only is the richness of the customer experience sacrificed, that’s often where you are going to miss the mark if you try to comply with something as broad as GDPR.”

While it may come as a surprise that so many marketers avoided GDPR wherever possible, Miller doesn’t blame them. After all, she noted, the marketing stack is far more complicated than it was when she began her career.

“We are in this age where our jobs have gotten exponentially more complex,” she noted, “because the way our customer expects to engage with us in order to have a useful relationship demands that we are in charge—knowing how the tech stack relates to engagement and the rest of the organization.”

It may be understandable why so many respondents choose to avoid GDPR compliance and hope for the best, but Miller noticed a direct connection between this attitude and a commitment to customer experience.

“If you have an organization that [creates a task force around GDPR], you will also get an organization that firmly believes and is committed to the idea that customer experience isn’t just a marketing, sales and service deployment,” said Miller. “Customer experience is something that everyone in the organization has to be committed to—it’s not just a marketing scenario.”