With the May 25th enforcement date of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming, marketers are frantically trying to get their houses in order. Policies written, procedures and processes developed, data checked, and consent applied for.
For many marketers, preparing for the GDPR may not feel like a positive experience at present. But as well dodgy data disappearing and marketing teams being able to streamline their customer and contact databases, here are my top three peeves which I’m hoping to see less of come the end of May.
1. “Look at what you could have won”
This week I attended an industry-specific show, where one of our clients was exhibiting. As well as catching up with them I was also interested to hear how exhibitors were responding to the GDPR at the event.
A sales manager on one stand told me:
“We used to scan everyone who even just passed our stand to get their information, but GDPR has got us thinking more strategically. We don’t want that irrelevant data anymore”.
Great news that sales teams are thinking clearly about customer and contact data in light of the regulation.
However, one of my data harvesting bugbears at exhibitions is the use of the fishbowl. Simply drop in your business card to win an iPad, bottle of champagne or holiday of a lifetime. My explicit consent here is to give you my details for the sole purpose of winning. At no stage did I sign my details away to be spammed by email.
Thankfully this practice seems to be dying off. In fact, I only saw one exhibitor with the dreaded fishbowl alongside a large bottle of wine on their stand.
2. Dear [insert name here]
It’s clear that I’ve never met you or even connected to you through social media etc. so how come we’re best buddies?
You’ve no doubt had emails that have made you feel like this too. They seem to know a lot about you and their message is personalised, but the tell-tale sign lies at the bottom of the email, the word “unsubscribe”. Your data has been skimmed from websites or bought in on lists and simply put into an emailing service.
I can almost hear the purveyors of this form of “marketing” cry “surely this is a legitimate interest, as your business contact details are publicly published on the web; therefore, shouldn’t you expect to receive marketing communications?”
ICO guidance states, however:
“Organisations should take extra care if using a bought-in list to send marketing texts, emails or automated calls. They must have very specific consent for this type of marketing, and in most cases, indirect consent (i.e. consent originally given to another organisation) will not be enough.”
3. “I didn’t sign up for this – unbundle me now”
Often like the digital version of the fishbowl, I find I’ve supposedly signed up for marketing that I haven’t given explicit consent for. I’ve filled in a contact form and suddenly in my inbox is that company’s latest marketing email. Worse than that, I recently received an email from one company stating that my acceptance of their email (i.e. I opened it) was an opt-in to all forms of communication from them.
More and more I’m quoting the ICO’s guidance on this and love the word “unbundle”:
“Consent should be obvious and require a positive action to opt in. Consent requests must be prominent, unbundled from other terms and conditions, concise and easy to understand, and user-friendly.”
Unbundled consent might seem a lot of extra work and heart-ache for marketers, but why would you want to damage the relationship with your customers and contacts by using their data in a way that they haven’t consented to?
Also, while tick-boxes are still a valid proposition under the GDPR, why not lead your website users, for example, through a more explicit sign-up process? Has your user filled in a survey or contact form? Then why not provide encouragement to fill-in an email newsletter sign-up as part of your Thank You page e.g.
“Thank you for your feedback which goes to improve our products and services. We would love to keep you updated with these on a regular basis. To do so simply fill in your details below…”
So, you know my three pet peeves that will hopefully disappear thanks to the GDPR. What are you hoping will also go because of the new regulations?
By the way, we really like the DMA’s latest guidance and publication DMA GDPR guidance: Consent and Legitimate Interests. It provides great insight into the GDPR from a marketing angle.
Disclaimer: This material is provided for your general information and is not intended to provide legal advice. To understand the full impact of the GDPR on any of your data processing activities please consult with an independent legal and/or privacy professional.