You might be over it, but it’s not over

I have been looking forward to this day for so, so long and I must admit the anticipation almost killed me. This morning I got up early and ran downstairs to see what the GDPR Griffin had left for me under the traditional data security blanket. Imagine the crushing disappointment when I found nothing – not even the traditional data security blanket.

I know like everybody I have been busily getting ready for today, but I was sure my family would have laid on all the festive trimmings. Nope, nothing. I don’t know what the GDPR Griffin expected from me. Surely, I deserved something for working so hard auditing all my data, defining my legal bases and upweighting my consent where necessary.

Of course, today was never going to be like that. Nor was it going to be some sort of data zombie-pocalypse. Today, Friday 25 May 2018 was always meant to be just like any other Friday – a bank holiday Friday, but a pretty normal Friday nonetheless. Today is not the end of this thing called GDPR. No, today is just the end of the beginning. Today is the day we stop planning for it and start living with it. Today is the day we take a deep breath and think ‘now what?’

Well, now we get back to the business of being marketers because, while GDPR has been pretty much all-consuming for the last two years, it has not fundamentally changed any of our jobs. In other words, GDPR does not change the task marketers have been doing since the dawn of commerce: getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time, on a channel that is the most convenient for them at that moment.

Based on what has happened over the past couple of weeks we definitely have some more work to do. Even though we have known about this date for two years, everybody seems to have waited to the last minute to upweight their consent or notify consumers about the changes to their privacy policy.

I expected the number of GDPR related emails to gradually ramp up during the first five months of this year but that did not really happen. Instead we have seen typical volumes until last week when we started to see a spike. dotmailer has seen Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes over the past couple of days. The result reported on the BBC and many other media outlets is what I am calling “consumer consent couldn’t care less”. They are vaguely aware that the law has changed and that brands have to send out these emails but, because we are not doing a good job of explaining the details, most consumers are basically ignoring it all.

This is such a missed opportunity. Recent research has shown that almost two-thirds of consumers are willing to give brands more data once they understand the details of the GDPR but instead of being open, honest and transparent and explaining what we are doing in regards to GDPR, we made matters worse by flooding consumers’ inboxes with some version of the “law is changing, we have to send you this, click here to stay on the list or do nothing and we will take you off” for the consent emails and “the law is changing and we have to send you this click here to be removed from the list or do nothing and we will keep contacting you” for privacy policy changes, which leaves it up to the recipient to figure it out for themselves.

So, where does this leave us? Well here in the UK we have a three-day weekend to forget about the whole thing but come Tuesday we are going to be assessing how much data we have left and what we are going to do next. Obviously (I hope), if you have decided to use consent as your legal basis and you have not gotten it, then you cannot keep mailing those people as of midnight today (Thursday to Friday for clarity). That does not mean you can never communicate with them again, you will just have to capitalise on other touchpoints and channels. It also might be time to reopen the discussion around using the soft opt-in and B2B carve out as the foundation for legitimate interest as the legal basis for sending emails.

On the upside, the list you have left should be much more engaged, so now is the time to think about how you keep it that way taking us back to our core business as marketers. Our customers want us to be where they want us to be when they want us to be there talking about what they want to hear on the channel that is most convenient for them at that moment. In other words, sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time, on the right channel.

To find out more about what dotmailer is doing or for helpful resources about GDPR check out our GDPR ebook.

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