cartoon of REaD Group Director, Scott Logie, running with a glass of wine surrounded by a dog, 3 cats and chickens as an example of segmentation

by Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

Many years ago, in the last millennium in fact, I worked in a large UK Bank.  One of the projects we undertook was to segment our customer base.  We started by breaking it down into lifestages, clustered each lifestage and then grouped them together.  We then overlaid a lot of data including attitudes, lifestyle and detailed customer research by segment.  This segmentation was then responsible for helping create the underlying marketing strategy.  And one that worked amazingly well, we were getting up to 25% response rate on some of our outbound direct mail campaigns.

This wasn’t my first segmentation project although it was probably the biggest I’d tackled at that point.  Since then I have been involved in many many more and frankly, I love them. Not just from a data point of view – they are pretty fun though – but also because they always throw up some exciting, interesting and useful segments for our clients.

Over the years, I’ve got pretty pissed off hearing about the death of segmentation.  Because we can track the behaviour of every individual on-line, and have the technology to create bespoke plans for each of them, there is now no need to segment.

The truth is that when you have millions of customers, and prospects, to engage with, you can’t make every decision based on a detailed and personalised plan for every individual. So segmentation is actually still really useful and for me is the bridge between mass marketing and the nirvana of one-to-one marketing.

And segmentation exists in endless varieties. From the micro-segmentation of traffic arriving at websites, to the attitudinal or behavioural segmentation of a brand’s customers, to the socio-economic segmentation of voters, to the geo-demographic segmentation of media consumers, there is segmentation at work everywhere, and with increasing sophistication.

Segmentation is quite straight forward to do and powerful when used correctly. While each of us are our own person, in many ways we still act like a lot of other people. We actually do exhibit common patterns of behaviours and attitudes, and it is useful for brands to acknowledge and act on those patterns.

However, there are some important considerations when looking to create a segmentation.

First, be clear about the usage that a given segmentation approach is intended to address. All segmentations answer some questions but no segmentation answers all questions. Maybe you want to retain your most valuable segments then the segmentation needs to be lead by value.  Maybe you want to understand where there is market potential, then the segmentation needs to address an overall market.  Or maybe you need to understand the demographics and behaviours of your customers to drive content and creative, then the segmentation needs to be demographics led.  It might sound obvious but a lot of segmentations are done without thinking about how they will be used.

Secondly, think about the data.  A lot of the time I feel that data is chucked at a segmentation.  I’ve been guilty of this myself, just throw all the data in and see what happens.  Over time, I’ve learned that this is dangerous.  Notwithstanding all the statto needs to normalise, scale and deal with data anomalies there are other important things to consider.  The most important of these I believe is to split the data into what is going to be useful to create the segments and what is better being used to describe the segments – this is not always the same data.    

Finally, this is not a data project.  Segmentation is a customer project.  I know it starts with the data but it should end with creative ways to engage customers and prospects and, sadly, that is never going to happen if the project sits in a data team (sorry geeks).  So it is really important to engage the whole team early, get them to understand what is being done and why and that this project will fly if they get involved and give it some life.  Some of the best projects I’ve been involved in are the ones where creative marketers owned the segmentation.

So the next time someone tells you that segmentation is dead, tell them you don’t think so.  In fact, not only is it not dead but it is alive and well and thriving for brands that want to build bespoke campaigns for their customers.  Tell them you are proud to be one of the people who sits in the segment called “believers”.

grey postage stamp with an envelope on it which reads '10 compelling reasons to use Direct Mail'
“Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.“ – Direct Mail

 

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 by entrenching Legitimate Interest as a legal basis for Direct Marketing (in Article 47), GDPR creates a unique opportunity for marketers who have phased out or never used Direct Mail to embrace this versatile, tactile and creative channel.

Read on to find out why Direct Mail should be a permanent fixture in your marketing mix!

1. Direct Mail…Is opened AND read

According to an InfoTrends study 66% of direct mail is opened. Great start! If opened, 82% of direct mail is read for a minute or more.  Impressive!

Not only that, the same study confirmed that of the 56% of consumers who stated that they responded to direct mail went online or visited a physical shop.

Those are some remarkable stats and conversion rates (unless we’re missing something) unheard of for any digital channels.

2.Direct Mail…Works!

This is the really exciting bit…research confirmed that 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail within three months, made a purchase.

A well targeted, well-designed piece of direct mail can resonate with recipients in a way an email cannot. Something tangible and physically engaging can be a novel, tactile and enjoyable change from words on a screen.

Collaborative research by Millward Brown and Centre for Experimental and Consumer Psychology at Bangor University found that tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain.

3. Direct Mail CAN be done using Legitimate Interest as the legal basis under GDPR

The prevailing legislation, GDPR, states in Recital 47 that processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest

Latest guidance from the ICO highlights 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!

And ICO advice to charities on using Legitimate Interest confirms:

You won’t always need consent e.g. for postal marketing.

What’s more, 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.

4. Direct Mail increases ROI

According to Brand Science review.  Campaigns including mail had 12% bigger ROI than those without mail!

5. Direct Mail makes consumers feel valued

The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times study found that 70% of consumers indicated that mail makes them feel valued.  That’s an impressive stat – and all the more so for engendering feelings of being valued (an elusive goal for many brands).

And Direct Mail still resonates with every age group according to findings from a study by InfoTrends and Prinova.

In support of addressed and personalised mail, InfoTrends found that over 84% of respondents reported that personalisation made them more likely to open a direct mail piece.

*Sources: The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times, August 2017

6. Direct Mail creates a better impression of the company

“Tangible material leaves a deeper footprint on the brain”.

And scientists have proved it!  The Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University recently conducted an experiment using an MRI while presenting participants with both digital and physical advertisements. The results showed that printed materials not only make a deeper impression but are also perceived as more genuine!

Research presented in The Private Life of Mail: Mail in the home, heart and head confirmed that Direct Mail is more likely to grab the recipient’s attention.

Sources: Millward Brown, “Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail,” 2009,

The Private Life of Mail: Mail in the home, heart and head

7. Direct Mail has longevity!

27% of all mail is still “live” after the twenty eight days*

Contrary to the transient nature of email and other digital channels – direct mail can be retained for weeks (or even months) and is more likely to be shared or interacted with by more than one person in the household.

And in his paper, Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper, Roger Dooley proved that while digital ads were processed more quickly, paper ads engaged viewers for more time and, a week later, subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads. Physical ads also caused more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire.

https://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/print-vs-digital.htm

*Source: JICMAIL Q2&Q3, Kantar TNS

8. Direct Mail is more believable

Research by Market Reach has revealed that 87% of consumers consider mail communications to be more believable*

In the age of fake news, malware and phishing, it may be that a growing unease and lack of trust with digital channels is fuelling an increased consumer desire for the tangibility and trustworthiness of mail.

*Source: The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times

9. Direct Mail is liked by Millennials!

It’s true, the born to be digital generation like and engage with direct mail!

The “Millennial” generation (i.e. born between 1982 and 2000) is now the largest living generation in the world. While many generalisations about these “digital natives” abound, that they do not like or engage with printed material is not true.  Gallop research found that 95% of 18-to-29-year-olds have a positive response to receiving personal cards and letters.

A study by InfoTrends and Prinova – which surveyed a group of 18-66 year olds and their mail habits – also showed that 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase.

10. Direct Mail is good enough for Amazon!

Yes really! Amazon’s latest new (old) idea is….Toy catalogues!

According to Bloomberg News, Amazon’s first catalogues will be published in the US before Christmas and will be posted to millions of US households and also handed out at Whole Foods Market shops (bought by Amazon last year). There is also the possibility of a roll out in the UK to fill the gap left by the demise of Toys R Us.

This surprising move into print for the archetypal online retailer is further proof that print as a marketing channel is alive and kicking.

So, its clear that when executed well, Direct mail is an incredibly effective channel for response rates and engagement.

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.

Red book with the title 'GDPR: New Rules'

In an attempt to inject some lightheartedness into GDPR (no easy feat!) we thought we’d have a go at addressing some of the regulation’s key changes…by reappropriating Dua Lipa’s recent hit,  ‘New Rules’.

I’m sure Ms. Lipa never envisioned her song being used in such fashion, and might well be appalled… Anyway, let’s delve into these new rules in a bit more detail.

 

One – Do pick up the phone, but if they’re on TPS then leave them alone

 

It clearly states in guidance from the ICO that individuals are still able to be contacted via telephone using Legitimate Interest as a legal basis. Consent is not strictly needed. However, an LIA must be carried out which concludes that you have a legitimate interest in contacting said individual, and that they equally would have an interest in hearing from you. Likewise, it goes without saying – if they’re registered on TPS then put that phone down.

 

Two – Don’t let bad data in, you must do your due diligence

 

Despite concerns over the use of 3rd party data post-GDPR, as long as the data has been collected correctly, in a transparent manner – and is GDPR ready – then there is absolutely no reason why 3rd party data cannot (and should not) be used. This is precisely why due-diligence is imperative. All 3rd party data should be linked to the most recent privacy policy or consent statement, as well as the most recent engagement date – this should also be broken down by channel. (REaD Group’s Active database consequently ticks all of these boxes!)

 

Three – You must clean and amend, or you’re only gonna wake up with a fine in the morning

 

Article 5(1)d is explicit about this – data must be kept up to date and accurate or be deleted. Simple as. Besides the obvious threat of a substantial fine from the ICO, perhaps more troubling for many businesses should be the potential for brand damage. Consumer expectations around data accuracy have never been higher.

Recent research conducted by REaD Group found that more than 70% of consumers expect their data to be accurate [Source: Accuracy and Relevance – GDPR Impact Series 2018]

Continuing to market to deceased individuals and goneaways could have huge repercussions and lead to losing loyal customers. Keeping data up to date and accurate couldn’t be simpler and can be done real-time nowadays with Data as a Service (DaaS) solutions. So clean your data!

 

Don’t contact them – without a legal basis for pro-cessing

 

Whichever legal basis you choose for processing, once you have chosen it you must use it thereafter – there’s no going back. With that in mind, you might want to reconsider the misguided notion that consent is the be-all and end-all. It is often not the best basis to use. Direct Mail can be used under LI and is set to make a huge come-back – Amazon in the US (a famously online-only retailer) recently announced their intention to distribute a printed toy catalogue at Christmas time!

Respondents to MarketReach research confirmed that mail is more believable (87%), makes them feel more valued (70%) and creates a better impression of a company (70%).

While I await correspondence from Dua Lipa insisting that I never again use her songs to highlight changes in data protection law, be sure to follow the new rules – And if you don’t abide, the ICO might skin your hide! (Well, not really, but you get the idea!).

 

silhouette of a bicycle on a road with the Eiffel Tower in the background

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

The Tour de France is over and yet again we have a British winner, that’s 6 times in the last 7 races.  It is almost becoming de rigeur!  More correctly, there have been 6 Team Sky winners in the last 7 years.  Let’s leave aside for now any suggestion of cheating (my own opinion based on not very much is that they don’t break the rules but bend them as far as they can) and praise this for the amazing achievement that it is.

Since they formed, Team Sky have had a plan, they have run the team with clear objectives and they have succeeded in what they set out to do.  Mightily impressive.

And the win on this year’s Tour comes on the back of Chris Froome’s amazing three grand tours in a row.  I’m not a cyclist but I can appreciate how the planning and effort that Team Sky go into creates the possibility of victory.  To understand this more, listen to the excellent Podcast that the BBC made about how Chris Froome effectively won the Giro d’Italia on stage 19, it shows the meticulous planning that goes into creating the victory:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44372328

I used to work with a guy who came at the same inspiration from another sport, rowing, and a presentation he had seen from Ben Hunt-Davis:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNOQAuMGxBQ)

The concept here is very similar to Team Sky, focussing on what makes for success and getting rid of anything that doesn’t.  It is an easy concept to get but a very hard philosophy to follow.

Summarising these two great sporting examples, I see three things that stand out that can be applied to businesses:

Sweating the small stuff

Key to success for the rowers and Team Sky are the small incremental changes that add up to moving them forward. Every day sees them looking for something that will make a very small but relevant difference.  These principles were also applied to the British Olympic Cycling team where things like heating the tyres, then the riders thighs were seen as minor changes to begin with but are now used by all the teams.  So it is in business, looking at the small stuff can be what makes a difference in winning new work or delivering a successful project.

The big idea

As with Team Sky on stage 19 of the Giro, sometimes it takes a big idea to make a change. Froome was losing the race and needed something to change that.  They sat down, developed a plan, a big plan, and executed it to perfection.  But part of that was actually coming up with the big idea in the first place.  I can imagine no ideas were off the table, that anything would be considered.  Pure blue sky thinking.  How often do we really sit down in our business and look at what the next big idea should be?  And even if we do, how many times does it fall away because we don’t agree, focus and deliver on it?

Great teamwork

With both the rowing team of 2000 and Team Sky one other key factor is true, that the team is more important than the individual. In the cycling world, the domestiques, the people that provide the support; drag the main rider through to the end of tough stages; deliver the food and drinks needed to get to the finishing line; are as important as the number one rider.  Geraint Thomas served his time as a domestique before he was allowed to win the Tour.  These riders know their role, they stick to it and the team wins as a result.  I don’t think I need to explain the analogy in business!

Many of us love sport, we sit and admire as our heroes deliver success.  Or, if you are a Scotland fan, occasionally beat a team 3 places above us in the world rankings.  However, there are also many lessons to be gained from studying what makes sports stars great at what they do; dedication, drive, grit, hard work and talent amongst many more.  Extending this into what we do every day isn’t always easy – not many of us will be as great at our jobs as Roger Federer – but we can hopefully achieve more by being inspired by them.

gdpr words

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

At our recent GDPR briefing, a mere 3 days before May 25th, we asked those attending to sum up their final thoughts and feelings on the new regulation in 1 to 4 words. Needless to say, we received quite a range of responses! Many were whole-heartedly optimistic – ‘About Time Too!’, ‘An Opportunity’ while another begrudgingly conceded that it was a ‘necessary evil’. And one (we certainly hope they were being tongue in cheek!) simply labelled it ‘a pain in the a**e!’ – GDPR has been labelled as the 4 letter word.

‘Necessary’ seems like a very appropriate word. GDPR’s predecessor (the Data Protection Act) was introduced in 1988 – long before much of the technology involved in today’s marketing practices had been developed and before the amount of contactable data available exploded! Analogue legislation for a digital world.

There is no doubt that the last two years plus spent preparing for GDPR have been a challenging period for many. Particularly smaller companies who have more limited resources to ensure that they meet all of the new regulation’s requirements (of which there are quite a few).

Don’t give up!

Those who find themselves still just short of readiness, now that we are on the other side of the deadline, should not fall into utter despair just yet. To quote some sage advice from Hannah Crowther of renowned law firm, Bristows LLP – as long as you can clearly evidence that you are working towards adhering to the new Regulation (but haven’t quite crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’), it is extremely unlikely that the ICO will come a-knocking. Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has been quite clear that they would rather use the carrot than the stick!

However, those who consider themselves to be ‘GDPR ready’ should not be taking their foot off the pedal – far from it! As a regulation, GDPR demands ongoing compliance which is no small task. Undoubtedly, once you have the proper systems and procedures in place and they have been adopted into company culture, this task should only become easier.

A ‘New Challenge’

While some are concerned that GDPR signals an end to marketing practice as we know it, this is hardly a bad thing! ‘Inbox bombing’ has become widespread practice over the last few years, to the extent that consumers have definitely become desensitised to email offers.

Marketing will not cease to exist now that GDPR is law, it will simply require some refinement and a change in approach – as well as a renewed focus on the consumer. There will certainly be a substantial dip in terms of contactable individuals initially, as companies determine which legal bases they intend to process data under.

Nevertheless, by using data intelligently to understand your customer base and utilising techniques such as segmentation and modelling, marketers will be able to offer consumers more personalised communications that they are actually interested in receiving. A ‘new challenge’ as one attendee aptly described it.

What is more, GDPR champions openness and transparency – consumers that are being contacted should now actually EXPECT to receive these communications.

Consent!

Another word to crop up was simply the word ‘consent’. Truth be told this has been the main concern for the majority of marketers since GDPR was first incepted – and the media furore has hardly helped matters. However, in the FIRST statement of the ICO’s recent consent guidance it clearly says:

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.”

Don’t forget that there are five other legal bases for processing data, and in many instances consent may not be the right one to use. When it comes to honing your marketing strategy under the new legislation, it seems as though Legitimate Interest is in many cases the most obvious and appropriate for contacting prospective customers.

Mail has been found to be a much more trustworthy and tangible form of communication for consumers – and much more likely to yield a positive response. Furthermore it is a channel that has a much greater scope for creativity, as opposed to email which can be limiting, presenting an opportunity to create some truly engaging campaigns.

While our word collection was a fun exercise aimed at providing some levity before the big deadline, it was reassuring to see that so many people seem to appreciate GDPR as an opportunity and a change for the better. Regardless of people’s opinions towards GDPR, the fact remains that it is now LAW – no ifs, ands or buts!

See the full list of people’s GDPR words in the video below:

 

loyalty scheme

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

It’s been a turbulent few months for the UK retail sector – Debenhams and House of Fraser both recently announced multi-million pound losses. On the other hand, Tesco revealed a rise in their annual profits to £1.3bn and Sainsbury’s and Asda announced a ground-breaking merger to make a super-supermarket.

The level of competition between retailers is reaching fever-pitch. Amazon’s seemingly never ending reach, the growth of online brands such as ASOS and boohoo, and the general rise of the discount retailer have disrupted a sector that has been slow to respond. It is therefore vital for retailers to demonstrate their value to consumers and develop robust strategies to capture and retain customer attention and loyalty. A strategy that has proven highly effective in both the past and the present? Loyalty schemes.

Is the loyalty scheme on its way out?

While some have criticised loyalty schemes in recent years, they remain a powerful way of connecting and engaging with customers. In our recent Retail Trend Report we found that there is an intrinsic link between how long a loyalty scheme has been running and the level of customer loyalty. The research found that Tesco lead the way in supermarket retailers when it came to customer loyalty – the Tesco Clubcard was the first scheme to be launched (in 1995). Consequently, retailers with less mature loyalty schemes have lower levels of trust – Morrisons was ranked 10th for customer loyalty and only launched its scheme in 2014.

Some critics have insisted that the loyalty scheme is dying out, however, Tesco’s announcement earlier this year that they were going to downgrade their Clubcard programme was met with widespread backlash from customers. The demand is still there it would seem. Loyalty schemes offer a tangible value and benefits to the consumer, and many budget and plan accordingly to make the most of them. They may not necessarily attract new customers but certainly encourage more frequent purchases and customer retention. Loyalty schemes have become expected as part of the offering by consumers – gaining points rather than just lower prices.

Changing consumer landscapes

It has gotten to the stage where many consumers are experiencing ‘’offer fatigue’’; being bombarded with endless 2-for-1-deals, flash sales and coupons to the point where they become desensitised to all of it. Comparable prices are no longer the differentiator, consumers expect retailers to offer them deals that are suited to their individual shopping habits.

With discounting so rife, consumers are no longer prepared to buy full price products unless they absolutely have to, which has meant that supermarkets like Co-op have suffered for a number of years now.  In order to break the cycle, retailers must renew their focus on their customer loyalty propositions to make it worth customers investing their time and money in selecting their chosen retailer’s products. But how exactly?

The Digital Shift

Facilitating an easier process for customers to access their rewards is one way of tackling this challenge. Customers are increasingly using contactless technology and phones to make payments, and the prospect of carrying a wallet bulging with loyalty cards is becoming an increasingly unattractive one. It is high time that retailers shift their loyalty card schemes to digital platforms.

Tesco recently set an example by launching a contactless version of their Clubcard last year, followed by a Tesco Clubcard app. Customers who are presented with wads of paper coupons after swiping a loyalty card are, more often than not, unlikely to retain these for a future purchase.

Personalisation is key

Saving money is no longer the only priority for customers – they have come to recognise the value of personalisation and appreciate receiving deals that have been intelligently tailored to their shopping habits. Retailers therefore need to make sure that they are segmenting their customer data and analysing it to ensure that they are building and engendering trust and anticipating customers’ needs.

Building customer trust is a gradual process and not an overnight fix; this makes loyalty schemes more significant than ever before. Retailers must ensure that they are clearly explaining the benefits of a data-value exchange to their customers and remaining as transparent and open as possible.

Brands must demonstrate through these retail loyalty schemes that customers that consent to share their data stand to be rewarded for their loyalty and custom. And for those brands with long standing schemes already in place – now is not the time to abandon them! They’re a key means of understanding customer habits and maintaining valuable patrons.

The recent implementation of GDPR has provided a welcome impetus for brands to take this initiative. All things considered, by introducing loyalty schemes and using segmentation to enrich customer understanding, brands should soon enjoy better communication with an increasing number of data-savvy consumers.

REaD Group staff completing the ten peaks challenge for MS Society

There was laughter, there were tears, some unexpected scrambling, a few blisters, a bit of chafing, sun burn and A LOT of sweat – but we all did it!

The sun was just rising over the picturesque Lake District hills when 29 intrepid REaD Group staff (and one trusty canine companion in Bella the dog!) set off on our 10 Peaks Challenge to raise much needed funds for MS Society.

The Challenge: Conquer 10 peaks in less than 10 hours

The Route: a 15ish (our various distance measuring devices couldn’t quite agree) mile route taking in some of the highest peaks and most spectacular views in the Lake District, including the mighty Scafell Pike

The Team: 29 REaD Group staff (30 if you count Bella the dog!)

There were highs….

Reaching the top of peak 10 in 6 hours – we totally rock!

The views – simply breath-taking!

The joy of cooling our burning feet (and in some cases whole bodies!) in The Stickle Tarn

Almost losing Adam T in a steaming bog (the muddy kind) – or should that be a low!?!

The bliss of the first sip of a cold pint/cup of tea at the official finish – the very welcome sight that is Wainrights’ Inn

Tucking into Chicken/Veg Tikka Masala and Lemon Meringue Pie (or 3 if you’re Tickers…) at the youth hostel

The sense of camaraderie and achievement – there’s really nothing like it!

And the lows?

Well none really – apart from THE SWEAT! With sunshine AND humidity, we were sweaty in places we didn’t know we had – ‘nough said!   And being chased by an enormous thunder storm (which a least had the decency to wait till we had got to the pub).

Huge thanks must to our fantastic guides Matt, James, James and (yes) James from Lakeland Mountain Guides [https://www.lakelandmountainguides.co.uk] who made us laugh and kept us safe and also the lovely staff at YHA Langdale [https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-langdale]

A massive effort and achievement from everyone, and we are a few whiskers away from reaching our £10k fundraising target so any donations would be so much appreciated.  Come on people!

Our JustGiving page will be live until 30th June:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/readgroup10in10

REaD Group Chairman , Mark Roy, speaking at a GDPR event May 2018

Insightful, practical, really informative and enjoyable (yes an enjoyable GDPR event!) are just a few of the positive adjectives used to describe the REaD Group GDPR breakfast briefing. With only 3 days to go until ‘G-day’ the event was very timely – and very well attended – with a room packed full of experienced and informed marketers, Agency side Account Managers and data professionals.

There is more to GDPR than Consent!

To set the scene, REaD Group CEO, Jon Cano-Lopez, kicked off proceedings by referencing the latest consent guidance from the ICO (published only a few days before the event).  The first statement in the guidance reinforces that consent is often not the most appropriate legal basis for processing data under GDPR:

ICO guidance: “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.”

So, although the GDPR presents some new hoops for marketers, data managers and compliance teams to jump through – there is more to GDPR than consent – and life will go on beyond 25th May!

The sky won’t fall in on 25th May!

Hannah Crowther, Associate at renowned law firm Bristows LLP, delivered an engaging and no-nonsense presentation packed with salient advice (she even got some laughs!).  Lamenting the barrage of opt-in requests we are all experiencing, she advised caution when deciding whether to re-permission your data – in many cases it is not necessary – particularly for existing customers, members or subscribers.

Her top tips for staying on the right side of the GDPR?

  • If you are embarrassed to say what you are doing with personal data you shouldn’t be doing it!
  • Avoid surprising people – use the Legitimate Interest balancing tests to determine what an individual would reasonably expect to receive
  • Give individuals control over their data and what happens to it, for example, including a clear means to update their preferences or opt out- and document it

Her informed legal view: If you have carried out your checks and balances – by using Legitimate Interest Assessments in a serious and thoughtful manner – and you can evidence your process, you are unlikely to be in ICO fine territory.

What about the right to erasure? This is another area of GDPR receiving a lot of coverage but also greatly misunderstood.  In fact, in many instances requests can be legitimately challenged by an organisation – using the outcome of a balancing test and where there is an overriding legal basis for continuing to hold and process the requester’s personal data (she used the examples of current employees or customers who need to be invoiced).

It’s a journey not a destination!

A pre-recorded interview with experienced CDO at Age UK, Michelle de Souza, gave us insight and sound advice – based on her hands on experience of preparing for GDPR.  Their two year GDPR journey has taken them from relative disinterest internally to embracing the new principles based regulation.  Michelle likened the run up to the enforcement of GDPR to preparing for your driving test, hoping you will pass – and that you don’t get pulled over!

“If you are doing something that doesn’t feel right then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.” Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner

Mark Roy – Founder and Chairman of REaD Group – spoke passionately about GDPR being a force for good.  Surely it is better for businesses to be more transparent and honest about what they are doing with personal data so consumers can be more informed and more engaged?  Talking about Recital 47 that states explicitly that the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.

By Direct Marketing the GDPR refers to Direct Mail (not email, telephone or online – which are still covered by PECR).  Mark expounded the virtues of Direct Mail as an effective, more trusted, less invasive and creative channel to market.  Research confirms that consumers trust direct mail more than email and that it makes them feel more valued.

In Mark’s view, once the GDPR dust has settled, the real game changer will be the ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) which is expected to replace PECR in 2020 and will shake up all digital channels.

Closing on an optimistic note, he reiterated that businesses that embrace GDPR will thrive beyond May 25th – and the future for data driven marketing is bright!

tropical beach scene with palm trees and a wooden sign that reads 'GDPR data nirvana'

By Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO at REaD Group

We are now only days away from the big day – the General Data Protection Regulation – widely considered to be the most drastic change to the data landscape of recent decades.

GDPR is, in many people’s opinion, long overdue. The previous legislation surrounding data protection, the Data Protection Act, was implemented in 1998, before many of today’s digital marketing channels existed – the marketing practices of today are almost unrecognisable to those of 20 years ago.

Like it or not, GDPR will force marketers to alter their practices (very much for the better) and will impact businesses in numerous ways – across every bit of personal data processing. One of the central reasons for its implementation is to give consumers back control of their data and promote transparency and honesty between marketers and their customers.

The data value exchange

Unquestionably, gaining permissioned data will become more challenging and this will directly impact on marketing communications. The real test for brands will be to convince consumers of the value exchange in providing their data. Consumers and brands have been benefiting from data sharing for years, to the point where people often take many of the benefits for granted, such as loyalty schemes and tailored offers.

By providing relevant and tailored communications, brands can demonstrate the value of data sharing and ensure that their customers are likely to welcome correspondence from them.

While many marketers, and indeed much of the media, have been concentrating on the issues around obtaining consent, it is important not to forget that Article 5 of the GDPR requires that data be kept up-to-date and accurate. Using first class data cleaning products, such as Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions which can clean data in real time, will ensure that companies are complying with this aspect of the regulation (and take a significant amount of hassle out of the task).

Data is becoming an increasingly valuable asset, and this value should not be underappreciated. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. Keeping data up-to-date in order to communicate better with your existing customers should therefore be a no-brainer.

Legitimate interest

Despite a desperate scramble by many companies to re-consent customers via email, it is important to remember that consent is NOT the only legal basis for processing data. There are six in total and they are all created equal. Marketers received some good news from the ICO earlier this year when it was announced that if you are using direct mail to market to consumers you can rely on ‘’legitimate interest’’:

“you won’t need consent for postal marketing… 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 an individual is unlikely to be surprised or object.’

However, an LIA (legitimate interest assessment, also known as a balancing test) should be conducted to determine whether ‘legitimate interests’ can be used as a form of lawful basis for the data you are contacting.

In light of this announcement, brands should explore the opportunities presented by direct mail and think about how to utilise the channel to secure maximum impact. Public perceptions around direct mail have changed over recent years after many experienced an endless deluge of largely irrelevant and unwanted email. A return to a golden age of DM should be welcome news to consumers and companies alike. Mail as a medium has been found to be far less intrusive, more tangible and trustworthy, as well as providing a greater scope for companies to be creative and encourage engagement.

The months ahead

The 25th May should not be thought of as a finish line, but the beginning of a journey. Achieving compliance is only the start – maintaining best practice and incorporating it into company culture will be the real test for companies. However, it is important to remember that the legislation will ultimately benefit both consumers and brands. There is no need to panic over the prospect of fewer names on the marketing database, as those who have chosen to share their data will be more receptive and open to communications; essentially more valuable to business. Forging these long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with customers who want to be contacted will pave the way for a successful future.

A burlesque dancer covers her body with pink feather fans and looks down.

Another important difference between the Data Protection Act and the GDPR is that two existing Privacy concepts will be entrenched in law in Article 25, namely ‘Privacy by Design’ and ‘Privacy by Default’.

These concepts are not new but will have enhanced prominence and importance with the enforcement of the GDPR, under Article 25.

Privacy by Design means businesses need to consider privacy at the initial design stages and throughout the development process of any new products, processes or services that involve processing personal data.

Privacy by Default means that when a system or service includes choices for the individual on how much personal data he/she shares with others, the default settings should be the most privacy friendly ones.

Sounds simple, right?  Well, maybe not…. It is far more than a tick-box compliance exercise that can be buried within audits and contracts…it requires full commitment to build data protection into company culture and all aspects of its operations.  Essentially, these Principles encapsulate an ethos that should permeate every organisation that controls or processes personal data.

So here are a few tips for applying these key principles (and soon to be legal obligations):

  1. Educate all staff so they understand the principles – and that the Privacy obligations and accountability sit with ALL staff not just IT or compliance teams
  2. Conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment – or PIA.  A PIA is an analysis of how personally identifiable information (PII) is collected, used, shared, and maintained within the organisation
  3. Best practice is to create a PIA template which can then be filled in for each new system or product/service.  The ICO have provided a PIA template here. 
  4. Implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure that only personal data necessary for each specific purpose are processed.  This applies to the amount of personal data collected, the extent of processing, period of storage and accessibility
  5. Data collection techniques – including cookies – should also be reviewed and revised to avoid excessive data collection. Ensure that automated deletion processes are in place to remove personal data after an appropriate (and set) period of time
  6. Remember this is a legal obligation – no longer a ‘good idea’ or a ‘nice to have’

One big benefit of applying Privacy by Design and Default, is that it will also make it easier to be transparent, which is absolutely key when it comes to earning the trust to collect the data in the first place – and also a fundamental principle of the GDPR.

So, time to embrace Privacy!

Read about how REaD Group have embraced information security and implemented Privacy by Default.