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Business-to-business (B2B) direct marketing to many people is just email marketing; but what impact will the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), effective from 25th May, have on your campaigns?

This article the second of three and provides observations and practical tips about maintaining contact with your existing customers and new contacts in order to develop and keep your database compliant after GDPR takes effect. PLEASE NOTE THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE DEFINITIVE ABOUT GDPR ITSELF. The regulating body, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), have lots of GDPR guidance on their website.

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As stated in Part 1 the key issue for marketers is consent, which has to be freely given and proven that it was given. If requested by the ICO to show how you acquire and manage your customer and contact data used for marketing purposes, best practice would be showing how you are completing a ‘double opt-in’ process (see below). This is where the recipient confirms their email address and, if appropriate, any specific areas of interests. Continuing to just provide an ‘opt-out’ link at the end of an email may well not be enough to ensure compliance.

Among the tasks needed to help complete this activity should include:

  • Awareness of your business’s overall approach to GDPR compliance – not just the marketing-related issues and the contact data collection and updating and usage outlined here.
  • Co-ordination with other departments – your business may have more than one customer or contact within the same organisation you are providing services too.
  • Explaining to your customers and contacts why you are getting in touch – your business will not be the only one doing this, in fact you may have received similar communications yourself.

Not all email addresses can be treated the same under the new regulations

  • Small businesses/sole traders that do not have a separate business email address will also be subject to the new GDPR – ‘double opt-in’ is required i.e. express consent to electronically market to.
  • Non-personal addresses such as ‘Info@abc…’ are not covered by GDPR, but in reality, probably not best practice or a great deal of use from a marketing perspective.

‘Double opt-in’ – express or specific consent in action

People are busy and have short memories, therefore responding in a timely manner to any contact you receive or generate will be important improve the chance of a response. This applies as much for day-to-day incoming calls from new/recent/previous enquiries as to those received elsewhere e.g. an event your firm exhibited at.

This means being ready to send an email to confirm that permission either whilst the caller is on the ‘phone or the next day after an event. This email may have standard text but a personalised salutation plus a link to a landing page – where the recipient confirms their email address, that they wish to continue receiving communications from you and, if appropriate, select specific areas of interest.

Some recommended activities to support the implementation of this within your business include:

  • Explaining the process to customer-facing personnel
  • Why it is required and providing some call guidelines
  • Emphasise the need to send the confirmation email as soon as possible after the ‘phone call

On the subject of exhibitions, if you have a container to collect business cards at a trade show for a prize draw and you intend to continue contacting them after the draw has taken place then you need to communicate this at the time. The spirit of the new regulations is about being transparent and fair with people.

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If you would like guidance or assistance with regard to your organisation’s marketing data collection activities please contact Jon Hepburn on 01743 266288 or via email to jon@fedoraconsutlancy.co.uk