EU Data Protection Laws – 3 things you need to action now

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Navigating the upcoming changes to EU Data Protection Laws.

A quick checklist to help you prepare for the upcoming changes to the EU Data Protection law  that will arrive sometime in the next twelve months:

1. Shift to an opt in policy.

As the lines between personal and professional activity blurs, the EU wants to expand what is classed as “personal data”. For marketers, the biggest impact of this change is that you will be required to demonstrate opt in of your B2B targets. While we’re still waiting for the exact details, opt in is definitely coming to the UK. What’s good about this is that it encourages what should be best practice anyway – why would you want to force uninterested people to read your b2b content marketing? The sign up process should be very clear and easy to understand, and not tucked away in privacy policy statements on your website. Unsubscribing should be straightforward and immediate, and ideally subscriptions should be managed online.

This does mean you’ll need to think harder about how you get people to opt in to your emails – when you meet people at events, when they visit your website and/or when they download content. You have to be able to prove consent, as John Lewis recently found out to their cost. This will be a change for most B2B marketers in the UK, as personal information now includes business email and contact details therefore is under the same restrictions as B2C.

2. Talk to your data providers

It’s not clear how life will pan out for data providers for B2B so start a dialogue with them now. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate opt in from all your data sources, and it won’t be enough to rely on whoever sells or leases you the data. It’s useful to produce a document they are required to sign to prove consent from the contacts in the database. Proof is crucial, don’t just take assurances.

3. Set internal expectations

One thing is clear and proven and that’s the fact that the EU is taking data protection and personal privacy very seriously. It only takes one customer to complain (see the John Lewis link above) and you can end up on the wrong side of a reputational and legal experience. I’ve run several workshops on this topic, and there’s always a concern that some in the organisation don’t always take this as seriously as they should (compliance is boring, right?), especially the new opt in requirements. There’s almost always a sense too that it’s going to be very difficult to achieve and that marketing results will drop through the floor. If you’re an international company, talk to your German colleagues, they’re already doing this so will have developed some good ideas to keep your marketing effective. Hubspot produce some useful tips for growing your email database organically which you can leverage with an opt in strategy. You should talk to your internal stakeholders in HR, IT, Legal and web services to see what they’re doing and how you can perhaps leverage their activity. It’s very helpful to establish a small action group so that you can share tasks and keep coordinated.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and even when you’re not (I think it’s my age), so at the very least you should start planning for the change so your marketing doesn’t require a huge, panicked overhaul in a short time.

We’ve got some useful advice here, which you may find handy.


About the Author

Charlotte Graham-Cumming

Director, Ice Blue Sky Ltd

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