According to Bloomberg, European start-ups have experienced a 17.6% drop in venture capital since May 2018. This coincides with the May rollout of GDPR, and several challenges posed by GDPR concerning online lead generation.

SMEs in Europe are Dying because of New GDPR Regulation

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the modern economy. However, since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation came into force in May 2018, online lead generation has become a regulatory nightmare for small businesses.

How Big is the GDPR Problem?

Before GDPR came into force, Google and Facebook were averaging respective annual growth of 6% and 10%. Post-GDPR, growth has slowed to a trickle at just 1.6% for Google and 0.33% for Facebook.

Established multinationals haven’t reduced lead generation efforts in the wake of GDPR. However, small to medium-sized businesses have been left with no other option. For the most part, this is due to confusion concerning what constitutes GDPR compliant lead generation.


Why is Lead Generation in the GDPR Era a Problem?

Why GDPR poses a problem to lead generation in the EU is simple.

  • GDPR requires businesses to obtain the informed consent of any person targeted by lead generation marketing efforts
  • Any personal data acquired by companies must be securely stored, used only for specific purposes, and be readily retrievable
  • Companies must be able to prove that concerned persons have given their express permission for the processing of personal information


GDPR regulation guidelines seem reasonable from a personal privacy perspective. However, in the wild, regulation makes traditional lead generation impossible.

  • Businesses are liable for acquiring the informed consent of persons who click on ads hosted on third-party websites
  • Every business is required to demonstrate proof (when necessary) that consent has been given
  • Despite lack of clarity, GDPR does not provide an example framework of what is considered good compliance


Lack of clarity concerning GDPR legalese is resulting in many EU based SMEs forgoing online lead generation. Businesses want to generate leads, and they want to do so compliantly. However, few can afford to invest in dedicated legal advice, or risk hefty fines for operating non-compliantly by accident.

Online Lead Generation is Still Possible

Despite problems posed to EU SMEs by GDPR, there is hope for the future of EU-based lead generation. SAAS solutions brought to market by the likes of LeadLabs, seek to streamline and automate GDPR compliance. To do this, businesses are offered subscription access to GDPR compliant click funnel and landing page web tools.

Using products offered by LeadLabs, EU SMEs can generate fully compliant landing pages, without having to invest in the high cost of in-house development.

LeadLabs also allows SMEs to generate high-quality leads which benefit from strong validation, data cleansing, and automated rule-based lead delivery.

Will the EU Eventually Backtrack on GDPR?

Proponents of GDPR argue that legislation spurs innovation, by shaking up the digital marketing rule book. Sadly, slower growth and stagnating investment in EU start-ups, suggest that this isn’t happening.

Despite stagnating growth, the EU will likely not backtrack on GDPR any time soon. Instead, the EU is already pushing forward with an even less popular new copyright directive targeting content creators. This being the case, if you are stuck in a marketing rut because of GDPR, make sure to check out solutions offered by the likes of LeadLabs today.


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