As most marketers know by now, Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a recent law that provides citizens of the European Union with greater control over their personal data. GDPR is intended to assure individuals that their information is secure, whether the data processing takes place in the European Union or not.
Industrial marketers with contacts in their database from the European Union should have taken steps by now to follow the law, which has been in effect now for six months. While the law contains many provisions, the biggest takeaways for marketers are that you cannot send marketing emails to someone without their expressed consent and you must offer subscription management tools, clear links to data and privacy policies, and easy opt-out.
And yet, 30 percent of marketers worldwide have not conducted the most important and primary of tactics: a reconsent campaign to their marketing list to ensure their subscribers are opt-in (eMarketer, subscription required).
An Opportunity, Not a Burden
It’s almost understandable why some marketers are lagging in compliance:
- A reconsent campaign takes resources such as database management, the creation of web forms, and updated policies.
- Marketers with a low percentage of email addresses from the European Union might be willing to risk noncompliance with the law.
- The size of your opt-in subscriber list after a reconsent campaign will certainly be smaller, and therefore some of your metrics may temporarily skew to the negative.
But where some companies consider GDPR compliance a burden, others see new opportunity. For example:
- GDPR has offered an opportunity for companies to clean up their messy marketing databases and improve their data quality. Governance of the marketing database shifts from tactical patchwork to a strategic initiative that will lead to better marketing results.
- Marketers now have a mandate to execute true permission-based marketing and to communicate and engage with customers and prospects who are legitimately interested in their content and messages.
- A culture of respecting personal privacy can become the norm within your organization—and across the industry—improving conditions for everyone involved. We all want our right to privacy to be respected.
Changes to Marketing Practices
Whether or not you have subscribers from the European Union in your database (you may not know for sure without analysis), you should implement a number of best practices including conducting reconsent campaigns, updating web forms and marketing emails, avoiding purchased lists and carefully choosing media partners.
You should have already conducted a reconsent campaign for your E.U. subscribers, but if not, it’s never too late. A reconsent campaign is a clear demonstration to your audience that you are serious about complying with marketing laws and respecting subscribers’ privacy.
Ask recipients to confirm that they want to continue receiving emails from you. Make clear exactly how you will store and use their data. Use subscription management tools to give users choices, such as narrowing the types of emails they receive from you or limiting frequency. This way, you might be able to hang on to some subscribers who are on the fence about opting in or out.
Web forms should have clear links on how to opt-in to lists and access your data usage and privacy policies. Boxes to opt-in cannot be “pre-checked” forcing the user to uncheck the box. That’s not opt-in. Also, just because a visitor signs up for a webinar or to download a white paper does not mean they are subscribing to every marketing email you send. They have to be given the choice to opt-in and manage their subscription.
Purchasing a list with email addresses has never been a good idea, and now it’s an even worse path to follow. If you acquire a list from a third-party, they need to have consent from the people on the list to share the information with you. You also are required to get specific consent to use the email addresses on the list unless the individuals have given their consent to be approached by associated partners.
Purchased lists have historically not performed well and the data quality can be poor, leading to bounces and spam complaints. Now, on top of those problems, you can be breaking the GDPR law.
Your media and marketing partners have to be as rigorous about compliance with GDPR as you do. For example, before you sponsor or place an ad in a partner’s e-newsletter to their subscriber base, be sure to ask if they have conducted reconsent campaigns. Ask if their subscriber database is compliant with GDPR. Also, ask what they do to ensure the accuracy and security of their data.
If you are experiencing challenges complying with GDPR, consider working with a reputable partner that has an accurate, opt-in database comprised of engineering, technical and industrial professionals and the marketing expertise to help you connect with this audience.