If you’re a business HND student or grad, you will have almost certainly heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by now. While some companies are fully prepared, others might be feeling the heat; the GDPR comes into effect on Friday, 25th May 2018, and it could result in some big changes for marketing departments.
At A Glance: The GDPR
From the 25th May 2018, companies are legally required to integrate and turn on privacy settings by default on their digital platforms.
Companies are required to obtain express consent to be contacted for marketing communications. Opting-in needs to be an affirmative choice.
Users must be able to access the data companies store and remove consent for its use. Allowing users to manage their contact preferences and adding an unsubscribe button in email campaigns should cover any rules regarding GDPR data access.
Companies must justify that the data they process, collect and store is necessary for marketing their product or service. Asking for, processing, collecting and storing details that do not connect with a company’s product or service will become illegal under the GDPR. If you don’t need the information, don’t ask for it.
So What Exactly Is the GDPR?
The aim of the GDPR is, at its core, rather simple: put people back in control of their data. The wild west days of obtaining personal data through some less than savoury channels for the purpose of marketing appears to be well and truly over; instead, the GDPR will oblige companies that use data on European citizens to comply with stricter regulations regarding collecting, processing, and storage of personal data. Likewise, contacting individuals for marketing can no longer be done without explicit consent.
For marketers, this has resulted in something of a panic. Their precious customer contact lists look set to be all but wiped out due to the rules, and obtaining new details in the future will be far more difficult. While this may be true, there are some positive aspects of the GDPR. After Friday, 25th May 2018, marketers will have smaller lists of more engaged contacts. If you signed up for an email campaign from the Insane Clown Posse fan club when you were 11 and you’re still interested, the chances are that you’ll agree to consent to contact.
Another potential upside to losing contacts is the reduced cost of communication. Larger email lists, for example, usually require more expensive subscriptions. If 80% of subscribers don’t open the email, the money it takes to keep their data and send them emails could be invested elsewhere in the business.
Steps for Marketers
Marketers are flexible, adaptable folk. As such, many will have already considered how they can prosper in this new era of regulation. If you’re not quite there yet, consider our tips for getting ready for GDPR:
Email marketers rely on their lists for conversions. The prospect of having to delete a sizeable proportion of your email database could keep you up at night. The reality is, there’s still time to gain consent. Law firm Taylor Wessing gives a very succinct outline of what needs to be obtained. In short, you need to provide your contacts with a way to freely give their consent (no manipulation), without ambiguity. Importantly, the individual must actively do something to show consent; just opening an email is not enough. A checkbox on a contact form will do the trick.
An email campaign seems like the obvious option here. And an open, honest approach will go a long way to earning the trust of your contacts; those who do sign back up are likely to be genuinely interested in your product or service, which will be great for you conversions stats.
Consolidate Your Data
Having customer data stored in several locations may be helpful for taking advantage of different platforms’ functionalities, but for GDPR it could become an expensive headache. If a subscriber has opted-out of receiving marketing communications in one platform, their preferences should be updated across each. If not, you run the risk that they might be contacted again in the future via another platform. Our advice? Either pay for integration between your systems or use one CRM platform as your central hub and use the others only for actioning tasks. One main CRM (or an integration) also has the benefit of making the ‘right to be forgotten’ principle of GDPR much easier than routing through various databases looking for one particular contact.
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