What does GDPR & PECR really mean to the marketing carried out by B2B companies?
GDPR is nearly six months old (at time of writing). Since GDPR came into force, the Information Commissioner’s Office still hasn’t issued a fine greater than £500,000. However that doesn’t mean they are not going to. The fines issued were for actions that took place prior to May 2018 and so the fines have been the maximum possible under the Data Protection Act 1998. Do does this mean they’re not going to fine anyone?
Not at all. Since the 25th May 2018, the ICO has taken 25 enforcement actions.
So how can you ensure that your B2B business does not join the list?
There are a multitude of regulations that impact what you can and cannot do when marketing your business to generate the leads you need to grow your business.
Before May, the level of hype and, particularly, scaremongering was phenomenal. Many people were suggesting the ICO would jump on you with a 4% (or 20 million Euro) fine. The hype around consent suggested that you were only allowed to market to anyone who already knew who you existed and actively sought information.
Those who have given you explicit consent are, of course, your gold dust. They want to hear from you and are highly likely to buy from you at some point. But who else are you allowed to talk to, under the different rules applicable to B2B?
- Your clients: allowing you to market your full range of services and products to them, so they buy more from you.
- The people who have talked to about your services. Just because they didn’t buy from you before doesn’t mean that they won’t buy from you in the future.
- You are allowed to market to companies, but you have to get consent from sole traders and individuals.
When marketing to companies, you need to make it very easy to opt out and allow individuals to opt out.
So how do you know who you can and cannot market to when it comes to companies? Here’s some of the tips the ICO provides:
- Keep a list of the people who opt out of your marketing, so you can check any lists your acquire against that list.
- Screen your list against the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) – assuming you are following up your marketing.
- Ensure that the seller of the data is a member of a professional body
Once you have your data, it’s a case of common sense.
- Only use the data provided for marketing purposes and delete any additional data provided by the list provider.
- Only send them marketing communications that are relevant to them.
- Don’t send them too much. However relevant your marketing material, sending loads of email will annoy them, so they unsubscribe.
- Tell people how you obtained their data.
So when you start worrying about what you can and cannot do, think carefully. Be sensible about who you send email marketing to. Of course you should concentrate on developing a marketing list of people who have asked for information and opted-in to receive your marketing messages, but you can market to others in order to generate the leads you’re looking for to grow your business.
What about your current list?
Remember before the GDPR deadline when everyone tried to get you to get your mailing list to re-subscribe? There were lots of people providing advice around this. For those of you who did this, how many people actually responded? We’ve not seen any stats for re-subscribe rates, but stats for click-through rates (they need to click through to re-subscribe) at an average of 1.9%, that means you were throwing away up to 98% of your mailing list if you followed this advice. Not a great idea!
So what should you do?
To us, it is about whether people think your content is useful. The easiest way to see this is the level of opens and clickthroughs that take place. Luckily, most email marketing platforms check this and give each subscriber a rating. Mailchimp’s Member Rating is a five-star tool. Put very simply, the more stars, the more they are engaging with your email marketing.
- Remove those you aren’t interested. The people on your list with two stars or less aren’t reading your emails and so shouldn’t be on your list. If you have a big list, this data is costing you money to keep and your emails to them are being ignored, so take them off your list and reduce any risk of being reported.
- Try different times. If you always send your emails at 9am on Tuesday, your best performing time will that just that. However, there may be better times of the day and week. Hubspot suggests 11am is a great time, but it may vary for you. Try it and compare the results.
- Use different layouts. The more images you have, the lower the open rate as a general rule. However this may not be the case for your audience. Try different layouts, including simple text, to see what your subscribers prefer.
- Use Version testing. Whether you call it split testing or A/B testing, most email marketing tools provide this as standard. You can test different subject lines, different content, different sender names and times.
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to talk to a lot of people concurrently and to keep your target audience engaged. You do have to follow the rules, but you have to follow the right rules.
We hope this helps.