Absolutely NOT. In my honest opinion.
By now you may have heard of GDPR and have got a faint idea that it is something that needs to be taken seriously. With just about 75 days left until GDPR’s implementation, there is a lot to be taken in unless of course you live under a rock and do not have or wish to have any customers. In which case this article is pretty useless. Going back to those who are not so lucky to be living under a rock, GDPR is simply the General Data Protection Regulation, coming into effect from the 25th of May.
In short GDPR is going to be a better way in which businesses can collect, store and protect the personal information of customers, clients, and even visitors to their website. Transparency is the key in this case. If you are a business that declares how and when it is collecting information from its customers, showing them how and when it will be used then there is nothing to worry. This includes each and every piece of information, existing and new data, even that is on a business card or written at the back of a notepad at some networking meeting. If it qualifies as a lead, businesses must be able to prove how they have gathered it and if they have the relevant permissions to be able to communicate to these leads.
So how does this impact email marketing?
Well if anything GDPR will only help clean up data lists and ensure that all those on contact lists have given consent to receive information in the first place. This regulation will impact companies that focus on quality over quantity and also that spam with an aim to ‘sell – sell- sell’. In case of the later, they need to get ready for the consequences of non-compliance should ‘consent’ not be received. Which is up to 4% of their annual global turnover, or €20 million, depending on the transgression.
What this means for businesses is that it is key for customers to opt-in, meaning give consent to be contacted for marketing and other purposes. While ‘double opt-in’ is not mandatory under GDPR, it is considered as Best Practice.
Businesses are no-doubt worried that what if most of their data lists opt-out and do not wish to be contacted. Well isn’t it important to have a smaller number of very relevant customers, that have opted-in and remember why they want to be contacted by your business, than a large number of data lists that are not sure why and when they have signed up to your emails and hence may end up unsubscribing away.
So what is the best way to retain customers and avoid mass depletion of your email lists? Clear, clever consent-driven email marketing is key!! Email marketing will allow you to;
Show that you are relevant – While communicating to your customers, re-instate why they need to continue receiving comms from you, what value you bring to them and what would they miss should they unsubscribe.
Drive credibility – Communicate your company’s vision and how its customers are fundamental towards helping the business achieve its wider goal. This makes customers not only feel like they are ‘kept posted’ but also that they are an integral part of the business.
Make it easy to withdraw consent – Should the need arise, customers should be able to withdraw their consent to be contacted. Make it easier for them to do so, with clear check boxes or contact information to facilitate the option to withdraw in email transactions.
Keep evidence – When it comes to being transparent with an aim to being able show the consents given, it is best to keep the evidence of these consents to make it easier to prove should there be a need at a later date. Documenting details of what the customers have given consent to, the information they were given which facilitated consent, and the method of consent will help in proving it to authorities. Your previous and current email campaigns can come handy here.
Engage with your content – Including a good email marketing strategy as part of a robust comms plan, to engage and enthral your audience before and after GDPR, will keep your customers coming back. It’s best not to give them any excuse to hit that ‘unsubscribe’ or the ‘opt-out’ button.
Again, transparent clear communication will certainly survive under GDPR, but every communication will be subject to minute scrutiny. So, use your email marketing channel to cleanse your data lists, segment data in line with customer personas, ‘source received from’ and other product categories. Use GDPR to confirm and prove that your customers are happy to be contacted by you, they see value in your comms and you can prove their consent at any given point of time.