Is your business ready for GDPR?

Mark Wright, Director, Climb Online

Top tips to help you

Over the past few weeks, you would have noticed that social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have updated their privacy policies – asking you, their customers, to review and agree to their revised terms and conditions, so that you can continue to use the platform. This is GDPR coming into play, and if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to act with less than one month to go until ‘D-Day’.

In simple terms, GDPR – or the General Data Protection Regulation - aims to improve and strengthen the use of individual and personal data. This means that from 25th May 2018, any business or public-sector organisation, which either processes or controls personal data, will have to adhere to a new set of rules that ensures data consent, data transparency and data justification.

For businesses who rely on engaging with their mass email marketing list for customer retention or focus on generating new sales leads via strategic email content, this will certainly be a thing of the past, unless you can adhere to that magical rule of three:

So, what are the next steps to becoming GDPR compliant? And how can you encourage customers to opt-in and still want to engage with your business, product or services?

With opt-in comes opportunity

Firstly, you need to complete an audit of the personal data you hold on file, and contact individual customers asking them if they still want to ‘opt-in’ to marketing communications.

As a business owner, you need to view this process as an opportunity, and ask your customers WHAT information they want to receive from you. For example, if you run a Hotel, do your customers want to receive content on your latest special offers for weekend breaks, restaurant updates or wedding open days? Aside from ensuring you are complying with GDPR law, this process should actually remove irrelevant data, in effect the customers who aren’t interested, whilst enhancing your click-through and engagement rates.

Data privacy… Email exclusivity

Secondly, you should utilise the audit process as an opportunity to completely revise your email marketing and communications strategy. What is the ultimate goal for marketing communications? Customer engagement and sales.

The purpose of GDPR is to ensure you, as a business owner, treat individual data with respect and transparency. At the point of audit tell your customers how their data will be used with a revised and GDPR compliant privacy policy, whilst thanking them for their customer loyalty to date. From here, ask them if they would like to opt-in to receive exclusive email content, focusing on company insights, customer competitions, and product/service offers, to name a few.

Re-name your list, creating a sense of email exclusivity, i.e. ‘Friends of BUSINESS NAME’. By showing your customers that they are truly valued, you are more likely to hold on to them.

Customers who opt-out, aren’t interested

From experience, it seems that many business owners are concerned with how GDPR will affect or change their operations moving forwards. Although there is a lot of information to take in, and for some, many changes to implement to ensure GDPR compliance, you need to remember this: Customers who opt out, aren’t interested.

If they’ve been on your email marketing list for years, and have never opened an email or clicked through to redeem a product or service offer, why would you want or need their data moving forwards? View GDPR as a data detox.

In effect, businesses should only want to engage with existing or potential customers that are interested in their brand. Therefore, the data audit process benefits both sides of the table: Where it provides the consumer with the opportunity to review what personal data is held on file by which firms – for businesses, this removes the customers who aren’t engaged or interested in their product or service, enabling them to focus their efforts on those who want to hear from them, whilst working hard to build a stronger, more-focused contact list moving forwards.

Finally, remember every business is different. Individual businesses need to assess their own data collection and data storage policies, and where necessary, seek legal advice to ensure their business complies with new GDPR ruling.

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