Now that we live in a post-GDPR world, executives across Europe - especially those in marketing - have to be on constant vigil to make sure their businesses are fully compliant with the GDPR, lest they face the ignominy of being one of the first to pay the €20 million or four percent global annual revenue fine.
Much of the chatter in the marketing world has been around maintaining relationships with customers. After taking a hit from all those 'please stay subscribed' emails that did the rounds the last two weeks of May, businesses across the United Kingdom and Europe are wondering how they can legally continue to bombard B2B and B2C customers with marketing communications without violating the rules of engagement stipulated by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation.
Besotted marketing managers are struggling to live with the fact that their precious, accumulated over many years, databases have shrunk as a result of thousands of ignored emails or unsubscribe buttons clicked.
Are there any customers left to talk to? The answer is yes, and as new customers subscribe to your marketing communications moving forward, marketers need to make sure they have a solid email subscription management structure in place so they can deliver the right message to the right customers.
The right tools for the right job
If you’re a Dynamics 365 user, you’ll more likely than not be familiar with ClickDimensions: a marketing automation tool that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics and allows you to deliver email marketing, campaign automation, web intelligence, surveys, web forms and much, much more.
An essential piece of software for any email marketing team, ClickDimensions recently released an update (version 9.2.0) that lets users continue their marketing programmes in a GDPR compliant way.
Part of updating the product to be more GDPR compliant meant building functions that address key GDPR requirements, these can be broken down into three key categories:
One of the biggest changes the GDPR introduced was how businesses obtain consent from their customers. Whereas before, a business could assume consent and pre-tick email notification, SMS notification and any other type of notification on behalf of their customers, the GDPR now requires businesses to actively seek opted-in consent. This means no more assumptions (because you know what they make out of people) and no more mass emails, i.e. spam.
Everything you plan to do with a customer’s data has to be made clear to them in plain and easy-to-understand language and they must actively agree to each process individually. Want to send them a newsletter? Consent; a promotional email? Consent; an event invite? You guessed it, consent.
How does ClickDimensions’s new update help marketers get that business critical ‘I DO’ from their customers?
Hello Opt-In Subscription Manager.
Whereas current versions of ClickDimensions default to an Opt-Out method, i.e. emails are sent to those on your marketing list who have not actively unsubscribed, version 9.2. lets marketers switch to the more GDPR-friendly Opt-In method.
The new Opt-In method ensures that there’s an active opt-in for every email on a subscription list, rather than just checking to see that they’ve not opted-out.
This new method will require marketers to choose the subscription list they wish to send their communications to and then ClickDimensions will sense check that all recipients on the list have actively opted-in before sending out any email correspondence.
It’s important to note that you’ll need to be on the latest version of ClickDimensions in order for this to take effect, and in addition to that, you’ll need to run a process to switch over to this new method once you’ve updated. What this process does is look through all of your current subscription lists and create an opt-in for each email address on the list. Existing automated email campaigns will continue to function as per the old opt-out method until you update the settings for each, so it’s absolutely crucial you make sure your current email programme is up-to-date.
Gone are the days when a casually obtained email could turn into a lifelong commitment to a brand. Under the GDPR, individuals have never before seen levels of control over how their personal data is used by organisations, and they can change their level of engagement with an organisation whenever they want. Rather than marrying our customer, the whole arrangement has taken the form of an open relationship – fitting perhaps for the 21st century.
Individuals’ rights are built into the GDPR legislation and are commonly known as The Individuals’ Rights. To be clear, there are eight of these rights, and two (The right to be informed and the right to object), are often taken care of under point one: Consent.
Under Control, the rights that every marketer needs to be explicitly aware of are:
To help marketers facilitate the transfer of power from company to customer, ClickDimensions have significantly improved their subscription preference functions, in particular, the ease with which one can create a subscription management page.
Under GDPR, subscription management pages will be a must-have for any business wanting to avoid a hefty fine. Think of it as a portal on your site where customers are able to control every aspect of their data. Your business’s subscription management page will be the go-to for when customers want to change their subscription preference, unsubscribe from your communications all-together, and most importantly where they can request certain actions from you, such as, requests to be forgotten, rectify certain information about themselves or request all the data you hold on them in an easily transferable and transmittable file format.
The key to navigating the relationship you have with your customers in a post-GDPR world is to make sure that they are in control of their data and that they know it. Links to your subscription management page should go out with all communications and the page should be easily accessible on your site.
For those amongst us obsessed with reporting, the GDPR brings with it a whole set of checks and balances that will have to be adhered to by businesses. For marketers, the one to keep front-of-mind is subscription audits.
An entirely new feature to ClickDimensions, subscription page audits allow marketers to have a snapshot of all of the preferences that were selected by a customer in order for you to cross check that what they’ve agreed to receive is what you’re actually sending them.
This new function is incredibly useful when it comes to any potential disputes that might arise between business and customer, i.e. the always dreaded email or call from a somewhat annoyed customer asking why they’re getting sent whatever it is you’re sending them.
Having a tool like subscription page audit helps you show legitimate cause for communicating with your customers the way that you do. Rather than turning to a ‘they said I said’ standoff, businesses are able to clearly show date stamped subscription agreements to either the customer who’s asking for proof or worse the GDPR representative from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who’s looking to hand out a fine.
Keeping a detailed account of how you’re managing your customers’ data, knowing the legitimate reason for you collecting that data in the first place, and having full-proof reporting practices in place that show your business’ management of that data are the only ways you’ll be able to protect your business from that business-crumbling fine we all must now fear.
The GDPR is a big and complex piece of legislation that affects businesses of all size, in all industries. Whether you’re B2B or B2C makes absolutely no difference in the eyes of the law: data is data be it a work email or a personal one. There are many tools out in the market that can help your business navigate its way through GDPR compliance, however, no amount of technology can help your business succeed with GDPR unless you have the right processes and procedures in place. The burden does not rest with marketing, IT or even your Data Protection Officer (if you have one) but rather on the business as a whole. Everybody, from top to bottom and side-to-side needs to be aware of and have a clear understanding of how this legislation affects the way they perform their job.
Words by Justin Bown
Find out more information about how Advantage can help you with the GDPR.
Find out more information about Dynamics 365.
Find out more information about ClickDimensions.
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