By the end of 2015 the EU Data Protection Regulations may well have been passed, which means we could all be living with them in UK law by 2018. The reality is getting closer, so what are the implications for B2B marketers?
Do the new EU data regulations mean that we have to delete all the data we’ve been collecting on prospect behavior in the decision and buying funnel? Do we need to purge our systems of all the contact information we have?
Unfortunately, the simple answer is yes.
Yes, that is, unless we can get each person’s ‘informed consent’ to contact them by email, letter, phone or any other channel or method. In essence, what this means is that the new regulations give the same rights to people at work as they have in their private lives.
So what does ‘informed consent’ mean? The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) defines it as this:
“The person must understand what they are consenting to. Organisations must make sure they clearly and prominently explain exactly what the person is agreeing to, if this is not obvious.
And how do we make sure we’ve got ‘informed consent’? The reality is that we will have to contact every person on our databases to let them know we’d like to contact them on an on-going basis with content, events ,offers, updates and news etc. Once we’ve got their agreement, we’ll have to store it in a format which is auditable electronically.
So what will we be left with? Well, in short, a much smaller collection of people who are more than happy to hear from us.
And what will we have lost? A bunch of contacts who were at best indifferent, at worst irritated by our marketing.
So the net effect will be that we can concentrate on getting better results from marketing to those who are interested in what we have to offer rather than wasting time on those who don’t want to hear from us.
Finally, how might this affect our marketing results? A useful comparison is the difference in response between ‘single opt in’ and ‘double opt in’ email lists. In a study by Mailchimp, they analysed the data from a random sample of their 30,000 broadcast system clients. The results were:
· 75.6% increase in total opens
· 114% increase in click through rate
· 48.3% reduction in list bounce rate
So, in summary, the new EU Data Protection Regulations will force most of us to spend some effort in spring cleaning our databases. But that’s not such a terrible thing. For too long we’ve been obsessed about the size of our database universes. To misquote an old saying, ‘size is vanity, results are sanity’ I’d like to hope that out of the bonfire of our vanities will rise the phoenix of a less wasteful, better formed marketing discipline. The net effect should be better for everyone – marketers and customers alike.