The European Union (EU) has always been somewhat disjointed when it comes to uniformity of laws from one member country to the next. Privacy laws were no exception to the wildly varying regulations among countries, which caused obvious problems. Marketers in the United States have found that it was a solvable problem, but that may have changed for some.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was instituted by the EU on May 25, 2018, could mean making some significant changes to the way marketing through email works. If you were not aware of these regulations, it could bring about a host of questions and negotiating a minefield of possible violations if your company regularly markets through email to Europe. What can your company do in order to be compliant with GDPR? Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the new regulations; but first, let’s take a look at the scope and depth of GDPR.
What Does GDPR Entail?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law (2016/679) which pertains to data protection and privacy for all individuals within the member countries of the European Union. It also deals with the exporting of someone’s personal data outside of the EU.
What Does GDPR Mean for Companies Inside the United States?
There are ways to avoid being penalized by the EU if you are routinely email marketing to member countries. Just be sure to follow these guidelines.
Opting in Has to be Clear
The EU’s GDPR makes it crucial for marketers to re-think their opt-in process. The regulation means that you must make subscribers aware of how their information will be used and what content they’ll receive. They must also agree with both of these points. This pertains to newsletters, promotions, or information about upcoming events.
The GDPR requires that all marketers provide two separate boxes. One box is exclusively reserved for getting emails and a second comprehensive terms and conditions box. To deal with this requirement, use a strong call to action to grab subscribers attention like, “Sign me up now to receive exclusive coupons, news and important updates in my inbox!” Their acknowledgment verifies they agree to the opt-in process. It also creates a definite statement on the content that they will receive.
Next, a secondary statement and checkbox should explain the way marketers plan to use subscriber data if they agree.
Reinforce Digital Protocols
Email security is one of the most critical mandates of which email marketers must be aware. If the subscriber requests, any personal data has to be removed entirely from computer and company systems. Companies must remove any trace it ever was there.
Secondly, a company must report any security breaches to a data protection officer or supervising authority within 72-hours of discovery. In order for your company to meet these new requirements concerning marketers, use a system which allows locating, editing, and removing email contacts swiftly and efficiently. This procedure saves time and grants EU citizens the “right to be forgotten” and to be completely removed from all databases. Your company should review all security protocols, and make sure a complete security breach plan is ready to go when your company needs it. This plan will help stop damaging cyberattacks and will build credibility in marketing programs.
Make Sure Your Data is in Line with GDPR’s Requirements
GDPR also pertains to all existing data. If your company’s database has subscribers who have not given permission, according to the GDPR’s standards, or if you are not able to provide adequate proof of consent from some of your contacts, you probably won’t be allowed to send email to those subscribers anymore. It makes sense to bring your data in line with the new regulations. Modify all of your opt-in processes to comply with the EU requirements. It is likely changes to opt-in processes, and re-permission campaigns will slow down your list’s growth in the short term, they will benefit your marketing department in the sense that they are only sending email to subscribers who actually want to hear from them and as a result can improve the overall quality of the list.
Don’t Use Confusing Language
It is essential that email marketers carefully craft messages. It should not only grab the attention of potential subscribers while meeting regulations by defining how their information will be used. If your company plans to share their email list with other parties, they must get new permission from subscribers each time. Make sure you are transparent with subscribers if you are going to share their data with other companies. If your company attempts to deceive subscribers or hide true intentions this will result in a violation of the regulations. Violations are subject to penalties.
What Happens my Company Accidentally Violates the GDPR Rules?
With the advent of GDPR comes tighter regulations regarding consent and the use of personal data; but it also comes with increased fines for businesses that violate the rules. If your company isn’t compliant with GDPR rules, it can mean fines up to €20 Million or 4% of a company’s total global annual income. It is still unclear how steep the penalties will be for those who break the laws. What is certain is that the authorities won’t have the ability to pursue every company not fully compliant with GDPR. They will rely heavily on consumers to report breaches, and will likely focus on the most egregious violations.
If you’re unsure about how the GDPR affects your company’s future email marketing campaigns and don’t want to run afoul of the regulations, then contact Datamasters today. Our experts are standing by to help you with your email marketing needs. We create high-quality, curated marketing lists that are compliant with GDPR. We can also help you do the same. For contact lists you can trust, there’s no better option.