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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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):
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
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
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 https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/consultations/2258461/dpia-template-v04-post-comms-review-20180308.pdf
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
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
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 [https://gdpr.report/news/2017/10/23/breach-level-index-findings-must-businesses-better-protect/]
By Mark Roy, Founder and Chairman of REaD Group
The current chaos that seems to have overtaken the social media world these days is going to have far reaching consequences, not just social media but across the entire digital spectrum.
We have all been inundated with warnings about the imminent arrival of GDPR and many of us have spent much of the past few years preparing for that change. But it is the Electronic Privacy Review (E-PR) that will have a devastating effect on businesses engaged in digital communications as the current social media furore has altered the focus of E-PR from PECR re-write to complete reinvention of digital communications regulations.
The back story to GDPR is that the European Union was extremely unhappy in the early teenies about American digital behemoths – the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Apple wantonly using European citizen data for their own gain. They believed (rightly in my view) that European citizens should be able to exploit these services whilst having confidence that data would not end up disappearing to God knows where and used for God knows what!
To make matters worse for the Americans, in the time it has taken to get GDPR ratified in Europe both Safe Harbours and Privacy shield have been binned, although an allegedly ‘beefed-up’ version of Privacy Shield is now in play. Somewhat unhelpfully, in a deeply Churchillian two fingered way, Mr Trump has also managed to abolish the Obama Privacy bill which apparently did not put ‘America First’!
However, the wider story is not about the new controls and transparency that GDPR will provide for European citizens, it isn’t even about the fines that will be issued if companies fail to adhere to this new higher standard, the real story is about what is going to happen next year when the E-Privacy review (E-PR) is published.
The digital marketing arena is currently governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications regulations (PECR). Written in 2003 it has been subject to comparatively little reform over the last 15 years, amazing considering all that has changed in that time. The E-PR is fast approaching its closing stages and aims to resolve the significant legislative gap between the digital arena of 2003 and today’s much changed industry, as well as creating important synergies between E-PR and GDPR.
At its heart (surprise surprise!) a pretty draconian view of how commercial organisations are able (or unable) to exploit European citizen data. One other key thing to mention is that currently, sitting within the text, it states that all digital communications should be based on consent in line with GDPR, in other words open, transparent and unambiguous and requiring affirmative action.
So, it will not surprise you in the least when you hear that MEP’s, Euro legislators, rapporteur’s, ministers et al have spent the last few months being savagely lobbied by who? You guessed it, the US behemoths who stand to lose billions as a result of these changes, yes – those same behemoths that sat firmly in the cross-hairs of the Euro legislature back in the early teenies!
So when a story erupts about an analytical business using “surreptitiously” acquired data to try and influence the outcome of an election you won’t need a degree in quantum physics to understand that any party involved in the creation of the E-PR will now be doing everything within their power to ensure that European citizen data is protected at all costs.
Whilst I have long said the GDPR right to erasure articles would signal an end to the wanton use of citizen data in the programmatic industry, it now seems that a relatively small analytical business abusing the trust of Facebook users (aided by a long-held commercially convenient laissez faire attitude from Facebook) has pretty much ensured that the E-PR will move to an opt-in model and that European digital marketing companies will have to find a new and more transparent way of acquiring customers.
REaD Group have always considered the implementation of GDPR to be an inherently positive prospect for both consumer and company alike – very much an opportunity and not something to be feared.
As we enter the final 25 days before GDPR becomes enforceable, join us in the countdown with REaD Group’s GDPR Advent calendar. Each door will herald a new GDPR goody in the form of practical advice, nuggets of wisdom and much more – so get opening those doors!
Take a room full of switched-on marketers, data practitioners and legal and compliance professionals from brands and agencies keen to learn about how to thrive in a post GDPR data driven world.
Add in a group of informed and forthright speakers and panellists. Provide a holistic view of the new data world order post-GDPR – covering qualitative research, legal stance, channel view, a GDPR journey and industry view…..And bingo!
So what did we learn?
Ultimately the research presented by David Reed, DataIQ confirms what we already know (or certainly should do!) – that to build and retain trust you must tell people what you are going to do. And do that (and only that!).
The responses outlined also reinforce the importance and relevance of the core principles of GDPR: accountability and transparency. The full research is published and available to download here
For an event focussed on GDPR there was a refreshing consensus from speakers and panellists on the contentious topics of consent and legitimate interests.
Complete the balancing tests correctly and honestly and you can use Legitimate Interests as the basis for direct marketing to your customers and also for third party data.
Mark Watts, Partner at law firm Bristows LLP summed it up nicely, stating “consent is not the only game in town” and reiterating what the ICO have been saying for months that all the legal bases for data processing under GDPR are created equal!
Refreshingly candid, he referenced GDPR Article 47 which explicitly mentions that Legitimate Interests may be used as the basis for Direct Marketing. Legitimate Interests are also very broad and include commercial interests of an organisation – as confirmed in the latest guidance from the ICO.
ICO: “The legitimate interests can be your own interests or the interests of third parties. They can include commercial interests, individual interests or broader societal benefits”
The rights of individuals are also broad and this is at the heart of the balancing tests required for applying Legitimate Interests as a legal basis for processing data.
Direct marketing and GDPR
Royal Mail MD, Jonathan Harman, gave us 12 reasons mail can help your brand to thrive in a GDPR world, including:
- You don’t need consent for postal marketing
- Mail offers higher response rates than email
- No fines as yet for using mail for marketing
- Mail primes other media
He also cited some compelling stats that confirm that consumers like and trust communication using this channel:
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%).
The key take-away – direct marketing has a key role to play in the post-GDPR world!
GDPR is a journey not a destination
The engaging and charismatic Michelle de Souza, CDO at Age UK, gave us an honest account of their GDPR journey via a pre-recorded interview with REaD Group’s Scott Logie.
Her advice? Be pragmatic, be optimistic, be responsible marketers and remember that GDPR is a journey not a destination. Leaving us with the positive view that organisations should have the confidence to keep going.
Get it right and the future IS bright!
REaD Group Chairman and Founder, Mark Roy, put together a strong case to dispel the negativity around GDPR, reiterating REaD Group’s stance that GDPR is a much needed force for good.
Referencing the recent controversy involving Facebook and data sharing as a compelling example of why the accountability and transparency obligations at the heart of GDPR – essentially doing the right thing by consumers – are very much needed and should be welcomed.
Picking up on Mark Watts points, he was also very clear that legitimate interest isn’t just for customers – that it allows contact with everyone providing it meets the balancing test requirements.
All in all, a great event with some very tasty take-aways!
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 .
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.
 Wilmington Millennium, The True Cost of Mailing the Dead: Brand Damage, 2016
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.