There’s been a LOT of chatter lately about GDPR and how it may impact marketers here in the U.S. Any seasoned marketer knows that any time there’s a big change in any kind of marketing tactic, it tends stir up a lot of panic and unnecessary anguish. It also tends to inspire a lot of articles whose title uses the word “dead” in it. Not one to miss an opportunity to educate our readers, we hopped on that train in hopes of getting your attention and to help provide some clarity and hopefully peace of mind about your email marketing efforts. Will GDPR kill email marketing?  Good question. Let’s decide together.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is short for the General Data Protection Regulation that goes into effect on May 25, 2018. It was passed by the European Parliament to create a consistent data privacy law across member states of the European Union (EU). Its purpose is to support privacy as a fundamental human right and therefore give EU residents rights over how their personal data is processed or otherwise used. Seems fair enough, don’t you think?

Right about now, there are some readers thinking, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me because all my business is in the U.S.” but that would be a hasty conclusion.

Why business owners in the U.S. should care about GDPR

GDPRIt’s estimated that only 21% of U.S. businesses have a plan in place to address the GDPR. For those a little slow with math, that means 79% of U.S. businesses haven’t figured out how they will report breaches in a timely fashion, provide customers the right to be “forgotten”, conduct privacy impact assessments and more. If you are one of those businesses that haven’t put a plan in place because you don’t think the new regulations apply to you in the U.S., you’re wrong.  Any company processing, storing or using data related to an EU citizen will be subject to citations and fines for noncompliance. If your small business manages data that involves even one EU citizen and you don’t comply with the new GDPR, you can face fines up to 4% of your global revenue. GDPR is a way of thinking about your customer, a way of thinking about your business, that is permanent and long term. While the U.S. may not copy the GDPR verbatim, privacy issues continue to escalate, and more requirements for privacy are bound to follow.

This involves more than email marketing but for many, email is the big issue

If you’ve taken the time to read the details of GDPR (and really, you should) you know it goes beyond just email marketing; it’s about privacy in general. The reason people are concerned about email marketing and whether the GDPR will kill email marketing is that for many, that’s where data collection comes into play. You want people on your email list, so you ask, they give their name and email address, and on your list they go. So, while there are suggestions specific to GDPR and email marketing, let’s start with the basics of what you should do to comply. To do that, understand what rights GDPR gives to EU residents:

  • Right of access
  • Right to rectification
  • Right to be forgotten
  • Right to restrict processing
  • Right of portability
  • Right to object

There are services out there that can assist in making your website GDPR compliant. While it’s best to consult a legal professional how to protect your business with items such as a privacy policy, when it comes to email marketing, here are a few suggestions. For your lead capture form, provide a clear explanation of what the user is signing up for. Provide a checkbox that is not pre-checked and that is required to be checked by the user before the form can be submitted. Add text that references your privacy policy page and link to it. For email marketing, it’s a good idea to get new, valid, consent from the individuals in your database. Email marketing companies such as Constant Contact actually provide an email opt-in template to use, or you can create your own.

Email marketing is still a fantastic way of connecting with current customers and prospects. Don’t let this new initiative scare you away from this tactic. GDPR will NOT kill email marketing. Simply be diligent at obtaining email addresses and other personal data the correct way, and allow transparency to customer as to how that data is being used. Protecting the privacy of your customers is simply good business practice, and that includes how it’s protected in your email marketing efforts.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is only for better understanding of the different regulations implemented as GDPR. This is just for knowledge sharing purpose only and is not to be considered as legal advice. As a small business owner, it’s advised that you educate yourself on how GDPR will impact your business and work with a legal professional as needed to address any concerns. 

Patty Hughes
Follow Us!