By Paul Kennedy, Data Strategy Director at Amaze One
After years of debate, changes to the EU’s data protection laws have finally been agreed, replacing the 1998 Act and making the law more fit for the digital age. This is good for consumers as it gives them new rights to control their personal information. It is actually also good for marketers as it clarifies a number of areas and further ensures that data is used in a respectful and efficient manner. This surely must tip the value exchange equation in favour of more effective marketing.
Recent research from the USA, perhaps shockingly indicates that the average person receives over 90 emails per day and this is set to rise by 6% a year. Whilst this figure seems bit on the high side, many people would doubtless agree that too many of the messages are irrelevant.
So why do some marketers persist with this practice? Maybe it’s because the marginal cost for broadcasting email messages is virtually zero. Maybe it’s because there’s been no perceived downside? Maybe it’s because not enough thought is put into the role of contact strategies and optimised offers in delivering more sales over time. The new regulations may well change that: stricter consent requirements mean each opted contact will be harder to gain and easier to lose.
In a landmark case, the Information Commissioner ruled that third party permissions cannot be used to send email or phone communications unless it can be proved that consumers have agreed to receive marketing from other brands. It was demonstrated that it could not be proved that consent was given for personal data to be processed by third parties and that when the original consent was given the marketing of specific types of products was not stipulated.
Going forward, third party permissions will be tougher to accrue and data collectors will need to maintain those over time rather than the historic practice of ‘collect once and blast forever’ until the consumer unsubscribes. This has already caused quite a stir amongst data providers – some have withdrawn their email prospect data from the market or tightened usage options.
The traditional approach to buying ‘lists’ for prospecting is all but over. What options are available to marketers, especially those who have a need to undertake ‘cold’ acquisition marketing campaigns? For marketers who have relied solely on email communications, there are of course alternative and complementary methods that can be used in a considered manner to supplement email messaging. For example:
- Social advertising to target only named people rather than broad groups based on ‘black box’ inference models. Such interventions – across Facebook, Twitter or Google – should aim to drive qualified traffic to your own site where engagement can be better provider, rather than just building an audience on an external social platform where you do not ‘own’ the audience.
- Display advertising which is audience centric eg enabled using CRM derived targeting models in conjunction with programmatic platforms
- Generation of warm leads which have been pre qualified by the collector. Here, the consumer has confirmed they have a need or particular interest in the offer and moreover they are expecting contact from the identified brand. Whilst the volume of leads may be lower than other sources, the conversion rates should be significantly higher than ‘cold’ sources.
- Direct mail can also make a vital contribution where it is commercially viable – ie can help deliver an acceptable return per outcome.
On their own or in isolation of each other, these may not be sufficient to deliver enough response but as part of an overall contact strategy they can play an important role in a successful CRM programme.
The new General Data Protection Regulations are not rash, as they help eliminate poor marketing which is of value to neither consumers nor marketers. Marketing now needs to take a rational look at all of the options available for engaging with customers and prospects alike.
Download our Data Capture Best Practice guide for more useful tips.