Data quality and the impact of GDPR - is it good or bad news for businesses?

Posted by Tim Chalklen, MD Unified Solutions on 12 July 2017

We should all be now aware of the European Union’s General Data Protection Response that’s coming into force on the 25th May 2018. 

Aware maybe, ready... now that’s another story.

Let’s be clear, this will affect every single business in all the 28 EU member states (and yes this does include the UK even though we’re leaving the EU) as a way of streamlining what is deemed to be 'acceptable in terms of the collection, storage and usage of personal information'. 

Replacing the out dated Data Protection Act 1998, the GDPR 2003 objectives are clear - to ensure cleaner, more relevant data is stored thereby improving security of personal information while ensuring companies do not hold on to information for longer than necessary. Regulated by the ICO,  they’ll make sure we’re all accountable and adhering to these new rules – with huge fines if we don’t.  And if you think just because you’re a small business you’ll get away with it – you won’t. 

For the key areas of the GDPR that need to be considered - check out the ICO website which sets it out clearly with further reading available.

Under the GDPR, consent must be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” Essentially, individuals must now show clear affirmation that they agree to their personal information being stored.  And it is this we see as having the biggest impact on organisations as much of the data already stored will be rendered unusable if consent has not already been given.  

As from May 25th next year, when someone visits your website for example and wants to download a white paper which requires them to input their email address they will have to give explicit permission that they agree to their details being stored.  This needs to be accompanied with a clear statement detailing what they’re giving consent to that is, what you intend to use their data for.  And if you intend to contact them in the future in a number of ways such as email or telesales then separate consent for each is required.  

Just to add at this point – having a pre-ticked box, inactivity or silence will not constitute consent.

So what does this mean for outbound email marketing?

Well yes it does mean there will be an impact on email marketing but in a good way.  The whole premise is that quality data will be stored as opposed to vast quantities of contacts meaning that only individuals who want to engage with you will want you to store their details.   We see this as a great opportunity for us to be much more focussed in the content we create as we'll be able to target those with real buying potential making direct offers that will resonate and trigger a response.  It will also mean our database will be continually updated and reviewed which is only a good thing. 

We’ll also look at other digital means of getting in touch with customers and potential customers and be more creative in terms of the marketing campaigns we deliver.  We'll try to get more out of social selling, become smarter with influencer marketing and look to exploit more face to face activities such as events and other networking opportunities.

A final note to consider

If you think you'll contact your entire database requesting they give consent prior to the deadline, think very carefully before you do it as Honda and FlyBe know only too well.

If you're in the process of getting procedures in place for GDPR and need support in updating the data capture element on your website, please call us today on 01753 775050 for some advice.

Tim Chalklen

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