“How will GDPR affect my company’s marketing?”

It’s a question we keep hearing again and again because, well, the fact of the matter is no one’s really sure enough to feel comfortable that they’ve covered all their bases when it comes to GDPR and their marketing practices. It might seem extreme at first, but actually, it’s pretty straightforward when it comes to being compliant.

Where marketing is concerned, there are only 3 areas that you need to worry about – data permission, data access & data focus – and we’ve covered each of them, so crisis averted! Read on…

1. Data Permission

Data permission is about how you manage email opt-ins –people who request to receive promotional material from you.

It would be nice if we could all just assume that website visitors want to be contacted but nowadays, this simply isn’t the case. Now, with the introduction of the GDPR, people need to physically express consent in a “freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous” way. You’ll have seen the opposite yourself…

“Please don’t tick here if you don’t wish to or would like not to receive an email from us but if you do then tick it but if not just don’t tick”

Not ideal right? Confusing for consumers and ultimately, results in them being contacted against their will which can lead to much bigger issues in terms of data protection. Now, as marketers, we need to actively seek consent in a clear and concise manner from both prospects and customers, confirming that they do indeed want to be contacted. A pre-ticked box doesn’t cut the mustard anymore – a lawful opt-in must be the deliberate choice of the consumer.

So – instead of simply assuming that our website visitors who will out a web form (in this example, we’ve chosen to showcase how visitors can access documents of value) want to receive marketing emails from us, we now ask ALL visitors to opt-in to newsletters by physically ticking the sign up box (see below).

2. Data Access

Did you know that the right to be forgotten has actually become one of the most talked about rulings in EU Justice Court history?

No? Well, you do now. It gives people, just like you and us, the right to have outdated or inaccurate personal data to be removed. This has, in fact, already been implemented by companies like search engine giants – Google – who were forced to remove pages from its search engine results in order to be compliant. Big stuff eh?

Essentially, the introduction of the GDPR offers people a clear method to gain more control over how their data is collected and used, which also includes the ability to both access it and remove it.

Now, it is the responsibility of marketers to ensure that all users can easily access their data and in the same way, remove consent as they see fit. Oh and it’s not a big, huge complicated coding hooha. No, practically speaking, this can be as simple as including an unsubscribe link within your email marketing template which allows users to manage their own personal preferences… just like Twitter do.

3. Data Focus

As marketers, we can all be guilty of collecting a little more data from a person than we actually need. Ask yourself, do I really need to know someone’s favourite snack before they can subscribe to our newsletter? Probs not. This is why the GDPR requires you to legally justify the processing of the personal data you collect.

Newsflash: This is not as bad as it sounds!

What this means is that you need to focus on the data you “need to have” and stop asking for the “nice to haves”. If it’s absolutely imperative that you need to ask a visitor what there natural hair colour is or what size jeans they wear, you need to be able to explicably prove WHY you need that data. As long as you can do that, it’s peachy keen. If not, you can run the risk of being non-compliant and be slapped with a hefty fine. Speaking of which…

What’s The Cost Of Non-Compliance?

If you are non-compliant with the GDPR, it can have a massively negative effect on your business – your reputation, your finances, your data – the list is endless. In order to ensure you are totally compliant, be sure to consider your data permissions, access and focus, as we’ve previously discussed, as well as keeping your data well organised to avoid any marketing mishaps.

Unfortunately, these well-known household names weren’t so smart when it came to their email marketing campaigns and as a result of non-compliance, were charged with astronomical fines for being so. These three examples should certainly be a clear warning sign to businesses – both big and small – to make sure you’re doing things right ahead of May 2018.

Is GDPR Going To Be A Problem For My Business?

By now, you’re probably thinking that the way you do business will never be the same again.

But no, the GDPR will not be a problem for your business. 

In fact, it’s quite the opposite when you think about it. If the customers you have in your database have opted-in to be contacted, they are of a much higher quality and as a result, are more likely to remain engaged with your brand, in addition to being higher-converting. Now, that’s a positive! As well as this, you’ll find your company becoming more organised as you introduce a CRM system to effectively manage your data opt-ins and opt-outs, giving you a clear picture of who you’re marketing to. As a result, the more compliant you are when marketing to your opted-in customers, the more trust and credibility you will gain from steering away from the ol’ cold-calling and spam email malarky.

Remember, the GDPR was not designed to prevent businesses from communicating with their customers. Instead, the GDPR will result in companies having access to higher quality data and more importantly, keeping customers content and retained through compliant marketing strategies.

Essentially, the rules for GDPR compliance are simple – don’t contact someone unless they have asked to be. 

If you’d like some guidance with getting your marketing materials – including your website, email marketing software and CRM systems – GDPR compliant, we can help. Give us a call or a drop us a line or come to our office for a brew and a natter. We’re here to help!