Total Business Magazine

Taking a Creative Approach to GDPR Compliance

This year, GDPR has presented a great hurdle for marketers as they now have a legal obligation to handle, process and store data securely and with greater transparency than ever before. Customers have been placed back in the driving seat and have regained control over what personal data companies retain, how they use it, and the communications they receive.

What’s interesting is that the introduction of GDPR has created a cultural division between businesses. Legally-orientated businesses have focused almost entirely on the compliance processing aspects of GDPR without looking at ways to manipulate any marketing opportunities the regulations present. However, there are other types of companies who, with greater ingenuity, have used these legislative data changes to find ways to bolster customer engagement. These marketing-first businesses have recognised the opportunities and taken more creative approaches to the new legal requirements – achieving compliance without sounding like a law textbook excerpt.

Indeed, whilst GDPR challenges data controllers to be clear and concise in their communications, it also provides marketers with the chance to build consumer trust by being open and honest, capture attention and data consent, improve email performance by using consumers’ personal data to delivering engaging content that the subscriber want and have asked for, and educate consumers on the need for these regulations. GDPR is not necessarily an obstacle; instead, by being creative, companies can improve customer relationships whilst still being entirely legal and GDPR-compliant.


Specific choice opt-in

GDPR compliance is, however, a multi-faceted challenge. There are several new consent requirements involved, such as clarity, granularity, explicitness, named third parties, positive opt-ins and easily revoked being fundamental factors. The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) guide to GDPR demands an additional obligation for data controllers to ‘keep evidence of consent – who, when, how and what you told people’.

For ease of compliance, many email programmes now utilise a double opt-in with the ‘click to activate’ requirement providing proof of consent. The problem is that this action is often left uncompleted, losing subscribers easily. Some businesses have foreseen this, however, and have employed an alternative approach that requires a positive action to opt-in or opt-out. Sainsbury’s, for example, presented the user with a form that offered a specific choice for the customer to opt-in.

Many marketers are recognising that when customers are presented with a choice the default action is to largely do nothing; for instance, they are more likely to just not check a consent box altogether. However, presented with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option and incentivising the positive options with coupons/offers/information, as Sainsbury’s does, increases the likelihood of marketers achieving positive opt-ins.


Educating customers on GDPR

By educating customers on the regulations and how it affects them, marketers also increase the chances of engaging with their audience. By providing necessary information clearly and concisely, marketers are able to pique the interest of a group of customers by informing them of these laws and presenting the details in an easy-to-understand and positive format.

Lloyds Bank is a good example of how this can help improve subscriber relationships. The bank took the opportunity to educate its email subscribes ahead of the regulations being enforced, establishing the parameters and requirements of GDPR so that it was easy for the audience to understand. The campaign was incorporated with Lloyd’s wider digital marketing channel, which included a basic English FAQ landing page on its website for customers to learn more. This has yielded great success, since it began, with read rates of its standard notification emails increasing by a fifth, while deleted-before-reading rates halved, suggesting the bank earned and maintained customer trust and loyalty.


Privacy policy as entertainment?

One of the biggest challenges of GDPR for marketers is making sure they are being clear and concise with their subscribers. Since the regulations were enforced, many customers expect to hear what personal data is needed, using clear, plain language. Because of this, several programmes have presented their privacy policies in a more visual form, even using video formats to explain GDPR’s often highly legal, technical terms.

EasyJet, for example, presented this information as a pre-flight safety briefing in which customers are reassured that their data will only be shared for safety purposes or to deliver a service purchased from EasyJet or its partners. EasyJet has turned an intangible and complex regulation into a compelling, humorous, and comprehensible creative piece.


Humour and animation to convey GDPR

Although GDPR is a serious topic that touches on security implications, that doesn’t mean senders need to adopt a cold tone – their messages can still be sent to subscribers in ways representative of their brand.

For example, retailer Jack Wills notified subscribers about their privacy policy updates in a Valentine’s Day email that celebrated the ‘true romance’ that existed between brand and subscriber. As pictured, the email’s ‘click me’ call-to-action was a very apt animated GIF of a beating heart.


Incentivising Compliance

Under the GDPR regulations, it is clear that consent must be freely given: data controllers should avoid making consent a precondition of a service. However, this doesn’t rule out using incentives to convince people to subscribe. The ICO’s GDPR consent guidance states that there will often be some form of benefit to consenting, but it’s crucial that marketers don’t cross the line and penalise those that decide not to consent.

One example of marketers harnessing incentives is Brewdog, who offered a free beer in exchange for email sign-ups to the brand’s subscription programme. This has been successful for Brewdog, who, despite stricter consent requirements, achieved quarter-on-quarter list growth of almost 10% following the regulations being introduced. They also saw read rates increase by a tenth and reduced spam-filtering rates by a third.

GDPR undoubtedly comes with its challenges, but it is also a great opportunity for businesses to rethink their approach to data and subscriber relationships, and find more innovative ways to improve the customer relationship. The examples above prove this assumption correct – brands that are using GDPR as an opportunity to innovate are clearly benefitting from stronger relationships with their customers and receive greater engagement with their marketing programmes as a direct result.

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