GDPR: Is it safe to come out now?

A personal review of the GDPR build-up, what’s gone, and what’s next…

Well, it’s the 25th May and we are now officially in a GDPR era and what a chaotic build up it has been. With #GDPR and #GDPRday trending on Twitter and utter confusion from the mass population it seems. Like virtually all individuals living in the Eurozone and probably beyond, my personal inbox has been bombarded with countless emails of privacy policies, re-subscribes and frankly anything else that could try and persuade me to click “Yes I am happy to continue receiving your emails.”

As a director for a company that does a lot of email marketing for our clients, we have tried to offer consistent and practical advice to our clients over the past 12 months for the many holiday parks, campsites and businesses that we support on how to get “GDPR ready”. What has truly amazed me is the variety of emails from other businesses I have personally been receiving with such inconsistent content which can only mean the majority of companies generally didn’t really know what they had to do, did they?

As we advised our clients, consent properly obtained (and we worked with many of our clients to ensure their collection methods have been “GDPR Ready” for some time now) didn’t need to be re-enforced post GDPR. The only data that needed cleansing and sorting was that where you knew where it came and consent was likely, but couldn’t decisively say was ‘GDPR safe’. Frankly anything where you had no idea where it has come from should in all honesty have been deleted.

The week where GDPR Email confusion reigned supreme

I have received many emails in the past week… Good emails had content transparency to them (something that GDPR actively promotes) messages such as “What happens if I do nothing?” and the correct answers of “we will assume you are no longer interested and remove you from our database”. There were many though with mixed messaging, with email content simply such as “We’ve updated our privacy policy” requiring no action from myself at all as the consumer. Now some of these I know I have provided consent for, however there were a few companies I have never heard of and certainly have never provided consent! Needless to say the unsubscribe finger was active here!

Some emails were begging for opt-in, some sent up to 5 or 6 emails with increasingly desperate subject lines and some were offering me a chance to WIN big if I updated my profile (something that I thought was a huge no-no in GDPR terms). Twitter also was adorned with stories of the public with one stating that they had received one company’s entire database of contacts actually CC’d in a standard email, a GDPR data breach right there! I wonder if that will be reported by the culprits concerned…

How twitter reacted to #GDPR

I have been fascinated by Twitter and the general populations reaction to GDPR. 7 out of 10 tweets I would say, suggest people cannot wait to be stopped being marketed to through email. People seem to be hoping and praying for a clean inbox and a future where marketing is just of the things we choose and not of the things forced upon us, or that of which companies assume, for example, just because I once Googled and visited a website selling lawn mowers as mine broke! (as you can tell I’m not an avid gardener), doesn’t mean I need daily mower updates! Sadly, I think these days are nowhere near, just yet.

For the other 3 out of 10 I think the summary was utter confusion over what companies were asking them to do and what their action should be and, rather amusingly and quite relatable, the odd marketeer or web developer absolutely tearing their hair out!

What is clear is that as dawn on Monday 20th May broke, chaos reigned…. And now here we on 25th, GDPR day and it’s strangely serene.

So what’s next… Is it safe to come out now?

Here’s some immediate advice for businesses out there sat nervously wondering what to do next. First thing is, do what you say and sort your data. If you said you were going to delete it, delete it! Sort, segment and arrive at your probably 90% confident “GDPR CLEAN” database. We have to approach privacy with transparency and therefore abide by the actions of how people responded to your opt-in emails.

Secondly and most importantly, recognise what you have got…. Yes your database may have shrunk by 1000’s but what you have left are brand loving, loyal advocates of your business, people that cared enough to click ‘YES’ and choose you amongst the many 10’s or 100’s of others that they may have received. These people need to be nurtured, respected and treated well, so perhaps you can find a way of rewarding them? That way they will surely love you even more and help spread the word to their like-minded friends and family and allow you to grow your new audience through reputation not blanket marketing.

Thirdly and finally for now… Look forward. Those savvy brands and businesses out there will build their new marketing tactics on trust, respect and reward which could bring about a rich new audience of consumers who really want to invest in your offering. Let’s not get down in the dumps, let’s get hungry for a new marketing track and the dawn of a new GDPR era….

As ever, Pitched will be on hand to help and guide our clients over the coming weeks and months with more practical marketing advice. Look out for us at both The Glamping Show and The Holiday Park Innovation Show and drop by and chat about the challenges that face us all.

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