It feels like we've been talking about GDPR forever (two years to be exact) but the clock is ticking because it's now one week until it comes into force. It's imperative that everyone in marketing acts right now to ensure they are ready for May 25th.
If you haven’t already, you need to be considering how the change in data and privacy laws will affect you and what you need to put in place to ensure you are compliant.
GDPR stands for ‘General Data Protection Regulations’. They’re a set of rules from the European Union, and they’re designed to replace the Data Protection Act 1998 – a necessary update given that the digital world has changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years.
Essentially, think of GDPR as being the ‘upgraded’ version of the Data Protection Act – the requirements are stricter and the penalties are tougher. All in all, it should give people more control over their data while demanding that businesses using data are meeting higher standards.
GDPR applies to your business (including self-employed business owners) if you process data for individuals living in the European Union. Your business doesn’t have to be based in the European Union, and Brexit won’t make a difference to it either. If you're collecting, storing or using data of EU citizens, you’re going to have to comply with the new rules.
GDPR isn’t bad news for marketers. In fact, it’s just a natural (and necessary) progression given the way that we use data nowadays. Plus, let’s face it, everyone’s attention has been drawn to the use of data even more in the light of recent news stories surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
We’re processing more personal data than ever before, handling everything from IP addresses to email addresses, location data to cookies, customer occupation, marital status and more. However, it does mean that change is coming and you will have to be very clean and tidy with your data.
And what’s the penalty if you don’t comply? Big fines: four per cent of your business’s annual turnover, or up to 20 million euros – whichever amount is higher. But don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s not just a financial hit that could see your business suffer; the reputational damage could be catastrophic and cost you just as much.
Despite the fact it was announced two years ago, recent research by YouGov revealed that 72% of Brits hadn’t heard about GDPR. That's a huge amount of people who may not be aware that they need to give their consent for you to hold their data. This is a chance to remind people why they should stay involved with your content, by using a distinct brand voice and unique ways to get them to pay attention.
While Wetherspoons simply deleted their entire mailing list – and in the process the data they held on 700,000 customers - many brands are sending out a standard email to their customers (or adding a pop-up to their website) to update them on the upcoming changes.
Messages, however, have been mixed. ASOS, as always, got it right with their on-brand email which made it simple and clear. They tell the customer that: ‘You’re in control’ before giving them the option to opt in as well as letting them know what they have already opted in for. On the other hand, South Western Railway sent out an email with a weak call to action that could leave their customers confused about whether they have opted in or not.
Like ASOS, Skinny Dip stayed on-brand with its e-mail, capturing the reader’s attention from the subject. This read: 'a seriously cute pup inside.' It acknowledges that the message is 'slightly boring' but also 'incredibly necessary' and, true to its word, Skinny Dip shared an image of office dog, Fifi. This humanises the brand to help retain that connection with the customer and, of course, cute sells.
The problem with this approach is that we do tend to delete e-mails without reading them, don’t we? Particularly if the subject line doesn’t spark our interest or it doesn’t look relevant. This is why some are being a little more creative to ensure their message isn’t missed.
Manchester United used their pitchside advertising hoardings for the first time during a televised league match against Chelsea at the end of February to say: ‘You must opt-in again to continue receiving emails from Man Utd. Stay Updated ManUtd.com/StayUnited’
This image was then shared on social media, reaching an even wider audience than just those who watched the match either in the stadium or from the comfort of their own home.
Over on their Twitter page and website, the club used their top players to explain the benefits of consenting to receive their marketing.
Firstly, they tempted football fans with the promise that they will be the first to know about ticket availability, new signings, club news and competitions. Then they sealed the deal with the information that all those who fill in the form will be in with the chance of winning an all-expenses paid trip for two to see them on tour in the USA.
Ultimately, the more obvious you are about the benefits of providing data, the happier customers will be to hand it over.
This creative approach is eye-catching and gets people talking, which is essential when it comes to a seemingly dry and boring subject that is actually incredibly important to be aware of and understand.
If you're now panicking because you aren’t ready for the change - don’t. There is still time if you act right now. The key places to start are:
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