By Jon Cano-Lopez

So, it is 184 days – or six months if you prefer – since The General Data Protection Regulation – aka GDPR – became enforceable.

In the run up to the enforcement date – and in the months following – there has continued to be a huge amount of uncertainty and misinformation around GDPR and in some cases some down-right panic mongering.  The avalanche of re-permissioning messages in the weeks preceding May 25th was testament to a prevalence of some database damaging advice.

One data protection lawyer we know likened it to watching lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff!

However, despite the hysteria and here-say the threatened “GDPR data apocalypse” has not materialised.  And as we reflect on 2018 and the period since “GDPR day” here are some reasons to be cheerful…

Embracing the spirit of GDPR

REaD Group have been consistent in our view that GDPR is a good thing for consumers – and for business.

And six months on, our view has not changed.  In fact, we are even more confident that embracing the principles of the GDPR will only enhance direct marketing – increasing transparency and trust and leading to more positive, long term and profitable relationships between consumers and brands.

The Regulations are not about catching out businesses (who are doing the right thing!).  They are about the enforcement of practices that should be in place anyway.  Keeping your customers and their rights, privacy and preferences at the heart of your business and being transparent in how you are processing personal data will not only help to protect you from the risk of fines but also enhance your brand reputation, value and relationships.  Ultimately, if you are doing things right, it will be reflected in your bottom line.

The Data Economy is thriving

And although the reference to data being the “new oil” has been somewhat over-used, there is truth in the concept.  Projections from European Data Market Study for the growth of data economy are extremely positive, with the value of the data economy in Europe projected to be worth €739 billion by 2020.

 

The rise of the CDO!

Gartner have predicted that through 2019, 90% of large organizations will have hired a CDO.

Another indicator of the growing importance of data is the rise of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) – elevating data strategy to Board level.  The appointment of a CDO in many organisations – and across diverse industries – indicates a growing recognition of data as a driver of value and competitive advantage.  Data driven decisioning is increasingly becoming a business imperative.

Results from the latest IPA Bellwether Report also provide cause for cautious optimism, with total marketing budgets revised higher during the third quarter of 2018, extending the current period of growth to six years.

After an initial period of post-GDPR caution and inertia, there has been some signs of resurgence for direct marketing, with many businesses successfully utilising third party data and direct mail for acquisition marketing campaigns under the Legitimate Interest basis.

The industry view is also optimistic. In independently conducted research, over 78% of direct brands asked have projected equivalent or an increase in spend on data driven marketing.

Third party data – use it responsibly and reap the rewards

Well, we have been saying this for some time, but to borrow from the recently published DMA advice: Using third party data under the GDPR.   

There is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third-party data provided that it is undertaken in the right way, with the appropriate safe guards.”

The message is clear – and provides much needed clarity for marketers.   The direct marketing industry should have the confidence and conviction to continue to use responsibly sourced and permissioned third party data to optimise the quality and value of their data and data strategy.

Plus, new ways of utilising open source data have provided more opportunities to target direct marketing to addresses – using postcode level data to send partiality addressed mail.

GDPR data quality obligations – don’t bury your head in the sand!

There is a growing realisation that the data quality obligations introduced by GDPR cannot be ignored.  Article 5.1 (d) is clear – reasonable and demonstrable efforts must be made to keep all personal data held and processed by a business clean and up to date -or deleted.

Our independent survey indicated those who utilise data quality services appreciate “not having to worry about the accuracy of contact lists when launching marketing campaigns”.

And data quality is now being seen as a ‘must do’ to ensure compliance with GDPR, minimise wasted communications and limit potential reputational damage.

Rapid innovation in technology is also impacting positively on data driven marketing – with developments in DaaS, AI and machine learning delivering even greater opportunities for data optimisation, enrichment and real-time interaction.

Key take aways from the last six months?  Businesses and marketers should see GDPR as an opportunity to be more responsible and accountable, to get their data and data strategy in order – get it right and the future is bright!

Speedometer on a blue background with REaD Group's data as a service logo

‘In a fast-paced world, today’s popular brand could be tomorrow’s trivia question.’ – The words of late PepsiCo Chairman, D. Wayne Colloway, have never been more relevant. For many businesses, the need to stay on the pulse and react to unforeseen or last-minute changes is crucial. Missing a beat can be very costly.

In an ideal world, every campaign would be meticulously planned and crafted, with a contact list that had been equally scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb. Sadly, very few are afforded such luxuries!

Undoubtedly, the level of reactivity required can alter drastically depending on the nature of a business. In some instances, we may be talking about a number of weeks, but sometimes it may be a matter of days, or even hours!

If we take, for example, the charity sector, and more specifically Disaster Relief Charities, it is imperative that the turnaround on campaigns is as fast as can be achieved. When funds are desperately needed, and lives are at stake, speed is everything.

The recent earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia left hundreds of thousands of survivors in urgent need of food, water and shelter. As soon as the news broke, many Disaster Relief Charities would have immediately begun putting together lists of supporters to appeal to for donations.

However, with the major overhaul in data protection law in May of this year (GDPR) there are considerations that must be taken in relation to the data being used for these campaigns. In accordance with article 5(1)d of the GDPR:

every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay.’

This potentially makes things difficult when putting campaign lists together when time is of the essence. If you need to send out a campaign urgently, you can’t afford to waste time waiting for an ad hoc data clean to be completed. This can often take up to 2-3 working days at which point the initiative has been lost and response rates can be lower.

Putting aside the risk of fines that might be incurred from contacting goneaway or deceased contacts under GDPR, a far more serious and harmful prospect is that of costly reputation and brand damage.

In response to these challenges, REaD Group have developed Data as a Service (DaaS) – a new real-time delivery model that provides access to REaD Group’s market leading data cleaning solutions, on demand. As data is cleaned in real-time, you can rest assured that data is accurate, up-to-date and campaign-ready at a moment’s notice.

Ensuring that campaign data is accurate up-to-date is now required by law, but this doesn’t have to restrict reactivity when time is short. Whether you’re a disaster relief Charity responding to a recent event or disaster, a travel company capitalising on current weather conditions or a retailer making the most of current affairs – there is a need. A need for speed.

 

Contact us today if you’d like to know more about DaaS!

newspaper headline reading 'clean data is required by GDPR!'

Marketers spend hours meticulously crafting the campaign message, creative and a compelling call to action.  Then when it comes to the data to fuel the campaign – often the same attention to detail isn’t applied.  Even the most creative campaigns can fail if the data is poor quality and inaccurate – containing gone-aways and deceased contacts or incorrect addresses for example.

Here are 5 really good reasons why data quality should be (at least) as important as the creative and CTA….

  • Keeps you on the right side of the GDPR data quality requirements

Keeping ALL of your data clean is also now law with the advent of the GDPR.   Article 5.1d is explicit: you must keep data accurate and up to date or delete it!

  • Reduces the risk of brand damage – does your brand want to market to deceased contacts?

Marketing to the deceased is bad practice and bad news for your business, causing unnecessary distress to relatives and risking costly damage to your brand reputation.  It is so easy to avoid by using a trusted data cleaning partner, so why risk it?

  • The better the quality of your data, the better it will perforM! good quality data will help you increase revenue, reduce costs and make better business decisions

The phrase “rubbish in, rubbish out” is well known and often used. It is also very true. Your data is a valuable, strategic asset and maintaining its accuracy and quality should be a priority across your business.  It should not be seen as a one-off task but as an ongoing process of improvement.  Research by The 451 Group,  identified the top 5 benefits of good data quality as:

  1. Increased revenues
  2. Reduced costs
  3. Less time spent reconciling data
  4. Greater confidence in analytical systems
  5. Increased customer satisfaction

*http://www.blazent.com/top-5-benefits-good-data-quality/

  • Your customers and prospects expect their data to be accurate

Recent research conducted by DataIQ and REaD Group confirmed that consumers expect the data held about them by brands they interact with to be accurate.

72% of consumers expect companies that hold their data should get it right every time or most of the time. But what they actually experience is a different story, with almost half of consumers stating that companies get their data wrong sometimes or more often than not! [GDPR Impact Series 2018: Accuracy and Relevance]

  • It has never been easier to achieve!

And while it has never been more important to your business to keep your entire database clean and accurate, it has also never been easier to implement and maintain.

With established and trusted data quality services such as GAS, TBR and GAS Reactive from REaD Group – available via a choice of flexible delivery methods to suit organisational and technology requirements, it is now achievable and affordable to optimise the accuracy of your data.

Download our handy infographic below!

data sinner

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

Many have likened the impending GDPR to a data apocalypse and the end of marketing as we know it. Certainly, if you have been brazen enough to ignore the new regulation altogether and failed to prepare then it is most likely a ‘data hell’ that beckons. However, your actions in the final days before the changing of the guard from DPA to GDPR (and beyond for that matter) will determine whether it’s an apocalypse that awaits, or a nirvana.

There have been countless examples over the years of companies committing data blunders and ‘bad data’ seriously affecting consumer’s perception of a brand’s image. Indeed, research carried out in 2016 found that two thirds (66%) of consumers said that they would boycott organisations that continued to send mailings to a loved one that was deceased [1].

Given recent events surrounding misuse of data and growing unease and distrust from consumers around how their data is used, it seems likely that this figure will only have grown.

In 2014 a woman in California received a credit card offer from Bank of America addressed to ‘Lisa is a…(well, let’s just say a rather offensive word that rhymes with mutt…) McIntyre ‘. A photograph of the offending letter was shared on Twitter and subsequently went viral. While this is perhaps a fairly amusing example of inaccurate data backfiring – and luckily for the bank in this case Lisa saw the funny side – it certainly highlights the importance of ensuring that your database is clean before running a campaign.

Similarly, there is the infamous ‘Dear Rich b**tard’ incident, which has now passed into marketing urban legend. After doing my own research into the origins and validity of this story I discovered that this particular gem of a blunder was carried out by a small UK based company in the early 1990s. After a programmer classed poorly formatted data under the placeholder phrase ‘Rich B**tard’ this was never updated, resulting in mailings being sent out addressed ‘Dear Rich B**tard’. A small mistake to make, but one that could have been far more serious, and costly. Interestingly the company was later contacted by a prospective customer who was indignant that he had not been contacted in this manner as he felt that he qualified for such a title!

I remember a bank a few years ago who mistakenly mailed all of their suppressed records (including deceased and goneaway contacts) instead of suppressing them. As you can imagine they were inundated with complaints from angry consumers…but at the same time received an amazing response rate!? Rather than advocating this mistake, this merely promotes the argument for keeping track of relocated consumers and looking at new occupiers.

Perhaps one of the most distressing and horrific mistakes related to inaccurate data happened in 2014 to a recently widowed woman from Cardiff. After her husband passed away she was bombarded with mailings from her husband’s mobile provider demanding overdue payments and offering new tariffs and deals. Despite attempts to inform the company that her husband had passed away, the mailings continued and became less friendly in tone. Following three visits to a branch, on one occasion bringing her husband’s ashes and death certificate with her, the matter was finally resolved after a huge amount of unnecessary distress and anguish to her and her family had been caused.

This is an extreme example, but the brand damage and bad publicity such an error could cause is enormous – the coverage of the story was incredibly widespread at the time. But it could all have been so easily avoided.

With data cleaning solutions readily available, and with the advent of DaaS (Data as a Service) allowing data to be cleaned in real time, there really is no excuse for having data that is not accurate and up to date.

Article 5 (d) of the new Regulation states that data must be kept accurate and up to date or deleted. This is not something that is up for debate or a nice-to-have, but something that will be enforced in law. Failure to comply with this aspect of GDPR will result in potentially hefty fines from the ICO.

We are now just over a month away from the big day, and as the clock continues to run out you must ask yourself the question – will you be a data saint, or a data sinner?

 

[1] Wilmington Millennium, The True Cost of Mailing the Dead: Brand Damage, 2016

miniature plastic figurine in overalls sweeping dandelion seeds under a dandelion

We are now less than two months away from the day that has been striking fear into businesses across Europe (and beyond) for the best part of a year – 25th May 2018. However, there is a particular aspect of the new regulation that many have overlooked, assigned a low priority to or simply ignored. The regulation is a comprehensive document containing 99 articles in total, but Article 5 (Principles relating to processing of personal data) appears to have slipped under the radars of many.

GDPR Article 5 (1) (d) requires that data be accurate and kept up to date or DELETED. Once the implementation phase of GDPR ends on May 25th and the regulation is enforceable, this will be law – no ifs, ands or buts.

‘‘(…) personal data shall be:

d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;’’

There is no doubt that data has become an integral part of how many businesses function today, but it is crucial to ensure that this data is the RIGHT data.

Why lose customers and prospects altogether or cause your brand reputational damage by failing to comply with Article 5 when there is a simple solution? The truth is that data accuracy is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity – it is something you MUST do.

The law is changing and GDPR takes a far stricter stance on data accuracy than its predecessor, the Data Protection Act; in addition to potentially incurring the wrath of consumers, failure to comply could result in a substantial fine from the ICO.

In the last 12 months the majority of businesses, and the media, have continued to panic and focus their attention on the consent aspect of GDPR, but the ICO is very clear that all clauses carry the same importance and weight. Hoping for the best and assuming that the term ‘reasonable steps’ justifies taking no action is naïve at best and arrogance at worst. Investing in a solution that ensures that data is kept clean and up to date on a regular basis, or even in real-time with Data as a Service products, is most certainly a reasonable step.

Recent ICO guidance confirms that postal marketing can be conducted using the basis of Legitimate Interest (LI) under GDPR. This will undoubtedly result in many more brands incorporating direct mail into their marketing mix over the coming year. It has therefore never been more important to ensure that postal data is accurate and up to date.

By continuing to market to the previous address of individuals who have relocated, you are not only wasting marketing budget that could be better spent elsewhere, but also losing contact with a customer that may subsequently become lapsed. Furthermore, the current occupants of that property will be far less likely to engage with a brand that is inundating them with a previous-tenant’s post.

In a similar respect, failing to screen for deceased contacts in your database is a similar waste of marketing spend, but more importantly one that has the potential to cause undue distress to the families of those still being contacted. Why risk tarnishing your brand’s reputation? Equally, why risk incurring penalties from the ICO for non-compliance?

It is not too late to take the necessary steps to ensure you are GDPR ready in relation to Article 5. Keeping data accurate by removing and keeping track of gone aways and screening for deceased individuals will not only be complying with GDPR, but also boost the performance of marketing campaigns and save time, money and resources by not marketing to people who will not receive the communication. Where GDPR is concerned, the message is clear – CLEAN it or LOSE it.

Contact us today about our market leading data cleaning products