GDPR: Opt in for a head start on the 2018 data law change

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The UK currently operates under the Data Protection Directive, which allows a “soft” opt-in approach. Under the current rules, data collected from communication with customers, tradeshow meets, business card exchanges, a checkbox for signing up to communications from a company, all count as a soft opt-in, allowing organisations to market to this data.

With the arrival of the new legislation, double opt-in will become essential to businesses looking to continue their marketing after 2018. In order to sign up for communications, prospects will have to fill out a form or tick a box and then confirm it was their actions in a further email.

While this two-step approach will hinder the amount of data marketers can communicate with, they will need legal consent to give a continuous stream of marketing material if they wish to avoid the penalties.

Whilst change is a constant in the world of marketing, this is one that will shake the very foundations of a company that is not ready or willing to move forward. Successful marketers will be those that start the new process now.

Here is a three-step approach to dealing the new opt-in processes to comply with the new legislation by May 2018:

Step 1: Start the opt-in process with existing data

Send a follow up email to all engaged data to ask them to opt-in to continuous communications.

As best practice, it's recommended that marketers send follow up emails to subscribers who ignore their opt-in statements, and make it clear that they will be missing out on essential communications if they do not opt-in to the messaging.

Step 2: Purchase data and work on opting in

New data regulations that came into play in the Spring of 2016 mean that marketers have the option to purchase data lists and opt-in as many contacts as they can.

In order to achieve a high success rate with this method, marketers should ask for as little information as possible. For example, only ask for confirmation of an email address that will make contacts more likely to opt-in. The less effort they have to put in, the more effective the opt-in percentage will be.

Step 3: Define opt-in statements

The legal consent method is yet to be determined. However, having looked at a range of B2C compliance statements and a handful of Canadian examples, the following should be in the right ball park:

I would like to receive future communications from COMPANY. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Terms & Conditions.

Sign me up for personalised emails from COMPANY. By signing up, I agree to company’s Privacy & Cookie Policy, as well as their Terms and Conditions.

I would like COMPANY to continue to send me relevant materials. You can withdraw your consent at any time.

The EU GDPR makes explicitly clear that consent has to be provable. Organisations must keep a record of its opted-in subscribers so that they'll be able to provide the proof of consent needed to avoid penalties.

With B2B email marketing evolving, marketers need to evolve with it.

Ultimately, there is nothing that organisations can do about the change in legislation except comply and ask for consent to continue their communications to current prospects and customers. 

The earlier they start, the bigger their double opt in lists will become and the more compliant data they will have by 2018.

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