It is well over a year since GDPR came into force, but the ripple effects from its introduction can still very much be felt. Especially when it comes to Marketing. Many businesses responded in knee-jerk fashion to the new Regulation and assumed that inactivity was the best course of action to remain compliant and avoid the risk of fines and the brand damage of an ICO investigation.
One of the reasons for this inertia was the confusion both before and after May last year as to which legal basis could be used to communicate with customers and prospects. This was especially the case for the third sector – with many charities deciding to play things safe and cease using direct mail campaigns altogether – even when this has been a core channel previously. This was particularly surprising given that several months before the introduction of the GDPR, the ICO announced in its online FAQ section of advice designed specifically for the charity sector that:
‘You won’t need consent for postal marketing …If you don’t need consent under PECR you can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.’
Indeed, in Recital 47 of the GDPR it states that processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.
The ICO has stressed that all the legal bases for processing data under GDPR have equal weighting and the first line in the guidance on consent states: The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis!
Erring on the side of caution, many charities chose to ignore this advice and decided to rely on consent for all marketing channels. A notable example is the RNLI who in 2017 announced that they would be moving to opt-in consent alone, most likely as a precautionary response not only to the impending GDPR but also the media critique of fundraising practice at the time. The move saw their supporter base decrease from two million to only 500,000 by 2018 and a fall in legacy income last year. However, they have recently reviewed this policy and have publicly announced that they will be using Legitimate Interest as a basis for processing supporter data from now on.
Direct Mail makes customers feel valued!
In the last few months we have seen encouraging signs of more charities reassessing their campaign strategies and returning to using DM under the basis of LI. Recent research has found that after years of ‘inbox bombing’ and phishing scams, there are issues with trust when it comes to digital communications – 87% of consumers consider mail communications to be more believable. [The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times, August 2017]
The study also found that 70% of consumers indicated that mail makes them feel valued.
Suffice to say – Direct mail is alive and well! Far from being an outdated medium – when combined with latest technology, creatively and thoughtfully put together, personalised and targeted, Direct Mail is and will remain, a relevant and highly effective channel well into the future. And with the ePR looming to replace PECR as the prevailing law governing electronic marketing and creating more legal obligations for digital channels, the status of Direct Mail used responsibly under LI – and other direct channels – will only increase.
So what are you waiting for? Get in touch to talk to us about your next Direct Mail campaign.
At REaD Group we have been helping businesses of all shapes and sizes get great results from Direct Mail for more years than we care to remember. And with the advent of GDPR our services have become even more important and relevant to our clients (from optimising data selections and data quality to campaign reporting and analysis). We’re a safe pair of hands.