Countdown To GDPR – Eight Days To Go. How To Deal With Low Response Rates To Emails Requesting Consent?
GDPR is almost here and the emails coming in asking for consent to send marketing emails after 25th May are overwhelming inboxes everywhere. “Consent fatigue” © Information Commissioner’s Office is setting in.
Many companies have chosen to confirm consent to receive marketing emails before 25 May. But with reported response rates at below 10%, any company which sent an email threatening that the recipient would ‘never hear from us again’ is now looking at a much diminished marketing database. At this point it is worth remembering that
- GDPR starts next Friday. You still have one week to gather more consents.
- Re-mails work. Try sending a gentle follow up email along the lines of ‘you might have missed our last email’ to add a few more consents to your email database.
But if your campaign for consent to receive emails after 25th May remains disappointing, businesses marketing to other businesses can use an alternative lawful basis to process personal data (ie use email addresses for marketing); legitimate interests.
You can send business-to-business marketing emails on the basis that you have a Legitimate Interest in doing so. Before using Legitimate Interests as a reason for data processing and email marketing, you will need to carry out a Legitimate Interests Assessment.
Your third responsibility is to communicate that you are using Legitimate Interests to the data subject. We believe that this can be done by putting a statement at the end of every marketing email that you send stating something along the lines of
“As a GDPR compliant company, we would like to explain why you have received this email. We believe that you have a need for business-to-business marketing data within your business. From our research, or from information that you have provided, we have identified your email address as being an appropriate point of contact within your organisation. This represents legitimate interest in line with the ICO’s guidance.”
You can read the ICO’s guidance on Legitimate Interests.
All B2B marketers should probably carry out and document their Legitimate Interests Assessment before next Friday.
Any mailing list or email list that you have bought from a mailing list company will be used on the basis of Legitimate Interests after 25 May 2018. Consent is now only valid if the company using the data was mentioned at the time of data collection. Unless your mailing list was researched on your behalf and your company name was mentioned to the data subject, consent is not valid after 25th May.
There has been a fair bit of scaremongering (and some unseemly profiteering on the back of scaremongering) surrounding GDPR.
If you are looking at files of old email addresses and wondering if you can continue to send business marketing emails after 25 May, Electric Marketing’s data cleansing services can help you tidy up your b2b mailing lists and remove the records that are incorrect.
If you are unlucky enough to come to the attention of the ICO after 25 May, the fact that you have taken steps to comply with the regulation that data must be up-to-date will stand you in good stead. The new regulation is clear that companies which fall foul of the new rules will be given guidance to put things right.
What the regulation does not specify is how up-to-date must your b2b data be? It does not define a time-frame for ‘up-to-date’. Given that data on large companies decays at a rate of 50% in each 12 months, Electric Marketing is working on the assumption that data that is more than a year old probably falls into the not up-to-date category. Our tests show that half of the records sold in April 2017 will now be incorrect in some way, be it a new postcode, changed phone number, new email address or change of person’s name or job title.
But the client who called in last week wondering if the data he bought in 2012 was ‘GDPR compliant’, the answer is no, as you need to update it. However if you have kept your data up-to-date by calling the companies or verifying the data in some way, then yes you can still use your pre-2017 mailing lists.
If you have not kept your data files up-to-date consider using a data suppression file such as Electric Marketing’s Leavers Database to get rid of the egregious errors. It will be tricky to convince the ICO that your data is up-to-date if it contains company names such as Monarch Airlines, Allied Domecq and Consignia. Or London phone numbers beginning 0171.
If your data update process extends to suppressing the unsubscribes and removing the emails which bounce back, be aware that some servers do not automatically reject email addresses that are no longer valid. Your emails may be being forwarded and read by the replacement managing director. On the other hand they may be sitting unread on the target company’s email server, ready for an officious DPO to report you to the ICO for sending promotional emails to an email address that has been out of use for 2 years.
I feel I may have drifted into scaremongering myself there. But the new General Data Protection Regulation is insistent that data is current and it is a risk to store and use marketing data that has not been maintained.
Now that you’ve written those GDPR policy documents and tackled your corporate mountain of old data, you might be ready to leave the legal stuff to the lawyers and get back to marketing, comms and sales. But maybe you’ve read something about PECR and some people on LinkedIn are still insisting that b2b email marketing will be over in May 2018?
What Is PECR?
PECR is the Privacy & Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 which governs email marketing. As an EU Directive, the UK can choose how to interpret PECR. Crucially the UK allows businesses the freedom to email other businesses on business matters without consent. Most EU countries do not allow b2b email marketing without consent.
The EU wants to update PECR and upgrade it to a Regulation (the ePrivacy Regulation or ePR) which means that all EU nations must follow the rule to the letter and there is no flexibility on its interpretation. The European Parliament signalled its desire to update it before May 2018 and bring in the new ePrivacy Regulation on 25 May 2018. As this would bring the UK into line with the EU and likely outlaw the sale of all third party b2b mailing lists, Electric Marketing wrote to a number of government ministers and departments asking for more information.
Five weeks later, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has emailed a reply; The Rt Hon David Davis MP Minister For Exiting The European Union, passed my letter to them.
EU Plans To Update PECR
The Department For DCMS states that is pretty much impossible for the EU to stick to their timetable of introducing ePR, the update to PECR legislation in May 2018. It points out that while the European Parliament has agreed its policy, all 28 member states are yet to officially state their position on the proposal and the final text of the ePrivacy Regulation is yet to be agreed by the European Parliament, Council and Commission.
“Our stand is that the quality of the text must be prioritised over speed”
The email from the DDCMS says that the UK government is pushing for a workable timetable for implementation, which I take to mean a two year period for business to prepare for the new ePrivacy Regulation.
What Is The UK Government’s Position On The PECR Update?
The email goes on to say
“In relation to unsolicited communication (spam emails and unsolicited calls), the UK’s position is to ensure the provisions for marketing communication are aligned with the high standard set in our domestic regime (‘PECR’) without compromising our regulator’s ability to enforce against such communication. We also aim to tighten the definition of direct marketing communications to avoid users needing to consent every time they load a webpage with ads. Elsewhere, the UK’s position is to maintain the level of flexibility for Member States in the current law.”
I believe that means the UK’s position is to continue to allow b2b email marketing without consent. But I am quoting the email from the ministerial support team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport verbatim so that you can come to your judgement.
When Will The New PECR Regulation (ePR) Come Into Force?
Perhaps more pertinent is the question of timing; the EU needs to agree a text and pass the update to PECR before the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019 for the updated Regulation to become part of the European (Withdrawal) Bill and to pass into domestic legislation. If the EU passes the Regulation, it is likely that there will be a period of implementation which may be two years as with GDPR. If the ePrivacy Regulation is not passed before the UK leaves the EU, we will have to see what sort of Brexit deal is struck with regard to implementing new EU laws in the UK post-Brexit.
What Is The Government’s Policy on Data Protection Post-Brexit?
For more information, read this Government publication Future Partnership.
Electric Marketing will keep a close watch on the progress of PECR throughout 2018 and into 2019.
Our view is that the implementation of PECR reform seems a way off yet. But beyond 2020, the future for business-to-business digital marketing is not certain.
GDPR Signals The Death Of The Opt-In Mailing List: How Can You Still Use B2B Email Marketing In 2018?
The new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules that if your mailing list is opt-in, consent to opt-in to receive marketing communications must be be “freely-given, specific, informed and unambiguous”.
It is no longer permitted to use mailing lists on the basis of the old opt-in wheeze of a series of double negatives to leave a box unticked agreeing to be contacted by “the company’s marketing partners”. The ICO’s (Information Commissioners Office) guidance on interpreting GDPR specifically rules out pre-ticked boxes and states that any third party using a mailing list must be named when the consent is given.
From May 2018 a mailing list can only be opt-in if a person has ticked a box next to a statement that specifically names your company. So your client list and any one who has signed up to receive info from your company on your website are opt-in lists. Third party opt-in lists are pretty much out after May 2018 and any company or list broker promoting opt-in mailing lists is not up to speed on GDPR.
The good news is that ICO guidance also states that
You don’t always need consent. If consent is too difficult look at whether another lawful basis is more appropriate.
Electric Marketing mailing lists are compiled and used on the lawful basis of “legitimate interest“. If you have a business interest in contacting a person, you may contact them without gaining their prior consent to do so. This applies across mailing, telemarketing and email, with some key restrictions.
There are no restrictions on postal mailing. Direct marketing with envelopes and stamps is swinging back into fashion. It is expensive compared to email marketing but compares well with other forms of digital advertising.
Business-to-business telemarketing is restricted to companies which have not added themselves to the CTPS register. All Electric Marketing lists do contain the phone numbers of CTPS registered companies and they are marked up as CTPS. You can buy mailing lists excluding CTPS registered companies. It is worth noting that companies must renew their registration each year so a company’s CTPS status can change over time. You can check a company’s status by putting their phone number into our free CTPS Checker.
Email marketing for business-to-business marketing is restricted by your own list of individuals who have unsubscribed from receiving emails from your company. This is a key point of difference between consumer email marketing which definitely does require consent. The reason for the difference is that email marketing is governed by a different EU directive, known as the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). PECR states that it is permitted to send emails offering business services to business people at their business email addresses, but if they ask you to stop emailing them, then you must remove them from your list and must not email them again.
So the opt-in mailing list is dead. But email marketing for business-to-business communications lives on.
List focuses on client companies with dedicated events budgets
Google “events managers” and get the names of thousands of people working in events. If you are selling to events managers, it looks as if you have a wide target market and hitting your sales figures will be stress-free.
But start contacting those events managers and find that it is one of those job titles that carries different responsibilities depending on the industry sector. Large hotels have events managers but they focus on selling the hotel as a venue to wedding organisers and training companies. Travel companies have events managers and their role is to target groups of people travelling to an event such as an international football match. All large venues, whether sports stadium or arts complex host events and the person running this is the events manager.
Those events managers do not buy in any services; their focus is revenue, sales and client servicing. Much like yours in fact.
If you are researching a mailing list of events managers, you are probably looking for a person who buys in event services; the person who chooses the venue, the caterers, the AV supplier, print, furniture, flowers, travel, hotels and all the extras that contribute to a successful event.
Electric Marketing‘s new list of events managers focuses on corporate event managers. We have weeded out the events managers working in venues, marketing agencies and trade organisations. We have excluded the charity sector and companies which organise events as their main source of revenue.
Our list of 400 events managers features companies with a turnover of over £30m. It is a targeted list that aims to bring you new business by focusing on the right sort of events managers which, as ever, are the types with a budget to spend.
Why Email Marketing is Still Key to the B2B Marketer’s Skill Set
The under-21s are an entrepreneurial lot; revelling in their command of new technology, they blog, vlog and Snapchat, they roll their eyes at Facebook (it’s where old people go online) and only check their emails if they are expecting something.
But they are keen to make money out of technology: they dream of bringing a killer app to market and riding into the top ten of the App Store.
How to achieve this? By blogging, vlogging and persuading other (more influential) bloggers and vloggers to write up the app.
Sending an email to a mailing list of ripe targets for the app is not on their to-do list.
Email marketing is targeted, fast and effective and it is falling out of favour with the new generation of marketers. Our 20somethings have grown up on mobiles and social media and cannot see that companies still require vast numbers of employees to spend time sat at their desk regularly checking and dealing with business emails. Sending an email gets your message in front of the decision maker in the company you are targeting.
Email marketing does require more planning than bashing out a blog; write the email, check the email for spelling, grammar and broken links, send it to some test email addresses to see if it contains a word that triggers filters and make sure that it does not lose its formatting on a mobile screen, test that your unsubscribe mechanism works. And finally choose who to send it to; use your existing client list, your list of leads and prospects or buy in a mailing list of executives in your target market.
If you are selling into businesses, email marketing remains the most direct and cost effective marketing tool in your arsenal. The 40something target for your killer business app is more likely to be reading his emails than reading this blog.
Microsoft announced a leap in profits last month attributing the rise to its relaunch of LinkedIn.
Since Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016, the corporate social media site has been flooded with innovative new functions. Microsoft has focused on the site’s main user-base – recruiters and jobseekers, and sales and marketing people. It offers packages of paid-for extras and add-ons for each of these target markets and promotes them relentlessly, largely by on-screen prompts and email.
I have been on the receiving end of a few comments on the lines of
“Can’t believe Electric Marketing is still going, now that we’re all using LinkedIn”
“Who buys email marketing lists these days?”.
But plenty of b2b marketers still buy email lists because while social media has its place, it also has its limits. Yes, you can make contact with a sales prospect on LinkedIn by inviting them to connect with you. And if they do not reply you can use the InMail service. If the prospect ignores your message, LinkedIn cannot get you any further. To persist in chasing that prospect now, you need a phone number, or an email address.
It can take 12 emails, phone calls and other contacts before a business person buys from a new supplier. You can reach out to a prospect over and over using email marketing, direct mail and telemarketing. And you can only start that process by having your prospect’s full contact details to hand.
LinkedIn understands this; it promotes its own products to its users by email. But it guards those email addresses closely; LinkedIn is mainly concerned with its profits, not yours.
Electric Marketing’s mailing lists come with full contact details. Our postal and email lists are sold on the basis of multiple use. If you have a list of leads and prospects that you have found on LinkedIn, our List Research Service can research their email addresses and full contact details for you. 25 years of experience in business-to-business marketing has taught us that re-mailing and regular emails, can build a client base and bring you sales.
GDPR sure has been a long time coming. We’ve been worrying about the effects of the new Data Protection legislation from Europe since 2011. We are now a year away from the deadline of 25 May 2018 to comply. And Brexit won’t save us.
For consumer marketers there are big changes but for b2b marketing, changes need to be made but they are not too onerous. And if you already comply with current legislation, you will find yourself with a pretty short to-do list for GDPR.
Electric Marketing has prepared this guide to GDPR for b2b marketing. It focuses on what is relevant for b2b marketing.
The key change is that a company must show itself to be compliant with the rules. Write a policy document which sets out how you comply with the rules. Our guide puts the eight key issues into simple language that your policy document must cover.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about how email marketing will be affected by the new rules. This is certainly true for consumer marketing but b2b email marketing is not governed by GDPR, it is covered by the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR).
Until PECR is updated, the rules for b2b email marketing remain as they are ie you may send an email to a person’s business email address about business matters without first gaining their permission. Your email must have an opt-out mechanism. If the person opts out, you must not email them again. This is known as an ‘opt-out regime’.
What About Consent?
If you are using data for the sole purpose of b2b direct marketing, you do not need the prospect’s consent to do so. GDPR gives six reasons for lawfully processing data ie using emailing lists. Read them here on the Information Commissioner’s website.
B2B marketing does not rely on consent as the reason for data processing. Your policy document will say that you are processing data for the reason that the GDPR calls “legitimate interest” ie you have a legitimate business interest in emailing the person at their business email address.
Worried About PECR (Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation 2003)?
The EU has an ambition to update the rules of PECR in May 2018 and has drafted legislation. The draft legislation appears to allow the UK to retain its opt-out regime for b2b marketing and while this could change, it seems unlikely. It is also possible that the EU’s timetable for updating PECR may slip beyond May 2018.
So PECR is as yet unknowable but if the EU’s timetable for the legislation slips just ten months to beyond March 2019, the UK’s Great Repeal Bill may not include the PECR update. To read more about the likely effects of the PECR update, look at solicitors Bird & Bird’s take on PECR here.
Following the events of last summer, the Pound crashed against the US Dollar to a 30 year low. The UK’s manufactured goods and services are falling in price for shoppers in the EU and across the world.
It follows that UK companies which export are set for a few years of strong sales growth. With growth comes new opportunities for b2b marketers to sell into these exporters as they gear up for expansion by investing in recruitment and training, marketing, market research into international markets, IT, international financial services and many other corporate services.
While many UK corporates are now drawing up plans to increase their exports, there are some companies which are ahead of the game. Electric Marketing has compiled new b2b mailing lists of companies which grew their exports by more than 10% last year. These companies are already showing strong sales growth and the new economic environment of a low pound and Brexit can only improve their prospects.
B2B marketers can buy data on fast-growing exporters in the knowledge that these target companies have insulated themselves against the chilly effects of Brexit and whatever the UK economy has in store for us.
In May 2016, Companies House reported that there were 3,725,232 companies registered in the UK. Though many will be dormant, non-trading or too small to buy your goods and services, business marketers must decide on the best corporate targets and take aim. Electric Marketing has long offered targeted mailing lists by job title, industry sector, company size and postcode.
This week we add a new mailing list selection, companies experiencing a high growth rate. We think these companies are excellent targets for your new business campaigns. Each one demonstrating an annual growth rate of 10% and above, they are likely to be fizzing with new ideas, have ambitious plans and be willing to invest in their business to push it to meet its full potential.
As they meet fresh challenges thrown up by their high growth rate, they rapidly staff up, skill up and buy in expertise from consultants and advisers. These companies make timely purchasing decisions.
Crucially, they are less likely to have long term relationships and loyalties to current suppliers and are more receptive to new partners and fresh proposals. Change is key to building a business and adapting to their fast-moving working environment.
The mailing lists show a bias to tech firms and around one third of the companies are technology driven, some in cutting edge areas such as cloud computing, fintech and online trading platforms.
If you would like to be involved with these bright stars of the UK’s corporate universe, full contact details (postal address, email address and phone numbers) are available to buy for your email marketing, telemarketing or mailing campaigns.