New interactive lesson on how Marketers can get a competitive advantage from GDPR

This is my interactive lesson to explain how Marketers can get a competitive advantage from Data Protection and GDPR.  Let me know what you think !

https://www.oppia.org/embed/exploration/gMBgFrMf-jsN

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GDPR – big sticks but carrots too for Marketers to create a competitive edge

GDPR – big sticks but carrots too for Marketers to create a competitive edge

Much of the focus and attention surrounding the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation  (GDPR)  has been around the big sticks that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will wield. The level of fines will be significantly increased  – up to 4% of Global Turnover or 20M euros, whichever is the higher.

Some Marketers could infer that the new regulations effectively kill off Direct Marketing..  But there are carrots too for organisations.

As Elizabeth Denham the ICO commissioner said in a speech to ICAEW in January 2017 that the new Accountability principle offers a payoff down the line: –

“not just in better legal compliance, but a competitive edge. We believe there is a real opportunity for organisations to present themselves on the basis of how they respect the privacy of individuals and over time this can play more of a role in consumer choice.”

So what I wanted to focus on in this article was how Marketers could use the new GDPR regulations to build a competitive edge.

But first – why am I qualified to talk about this ? I’m a Marketing and IT expert who has worked on implementing major direct marketing campaigns worldwide (email, print and social media) for IBM and Ricoh Europe. I have first hand experience of working under laws very similar to GDPR as I have run campaigns in Germany. The German Federal Data Protection Act (2003) is very similar to GDPR, as I’ll explain later.

Open new worlds Germany
One of the Direct Marketing campaigns I’ve run in Germany

Reforming data protection – the plus side for Marketers

It’s interesting that, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website refers to GDPR as Data Protection Reform. GDPR is an evolution of existing laws and practices which were first introduced in nearly 20 years ago – before Facebook, before Google, before Smartphones. However there’s more to it than just updating Data Protection laws for modern technology. It’s also about responsibility – changing the way organisations think about the personal data of their clients or target clients, and managing customer data sensitively and ethically.

In this context there is no difference between B2B and B2C:  we are all consumers and we will all have a right to expect Marketing organisations use our data responsibly and in accordance with the law.

If Marketers learn to respect the privacy of their consumers, and to avoid activities which are likely to annoy, offend or cause distress then these individuals are much less likely to complain to the ICO.  More importantly Marketers can develop a new relationship with their consumer and this is where Marketers could start to make a competitive advantage.

The new approach to Privacy gives more power to consumers. Consumers will have more control over their data. They’ll have stronger rights to be informed about how organisations use their personal data, and they will even be able to obtain and port their personal data for their own purposes across different services.

This really changes the relationship between the company and the consumer. Marketers will need to be much more specific and transparent about what they are using customer data for. Gaining consent from consumers to use their data will be more complex:

“consent will need to be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous, and businesses will need to be able to prove they have it if they rely on it for processing data. A pre-ticked box will not be valid consent”

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner

However the plus side is that, with imagination and planning, Marketers should have much better data about their consumers, and – crucially – consumers should be more receptive to receiving Marketing messages.

So, here is my advice for where to start to capitalise on this advantage.

 

Quick Wins

 

Make sure you comply with the existing regulation. GDPR in fact assumes that organisations are already compliant with DPA.  In particular there are a lot of straightforward things that you can do now to improve your marketing and to comply with the legislation.  These include.

Take notice of your Privacy Notice – this is a requirement of DPA and ICO have published guidelines as to what it should contain. The key thing is that the Marketing should pay special attention to what this says and make sure that it accurately covers the Marketing activities you are planning to do with customer data.

If you don’t think this is important, then this should focus your mind.

Cancer Research was recently fined £16,000 for profiling potential donors (using third parties) to assess their wealth. In their judgement the ICO highlighted that this wasn’t explained in their Privacy Notice and so it happened without the knowledge of the individuals.

Double- optin –Under the double optin an individual has to confirm their consent as follows…

How double optin works (Source: Mailchimp)

 

Although this isn’t required until GDRP comes into force, in my experience it is good practice.  When I’ve run campaigns in the German market (where they have had Double Optin laws since 2003) the nett result is that getting your customers to confirm their email address not only gives you much cleaner data but it also gives you “warm” contacts who are expecting to hear from you.

Best of all it’s actually not that difficult to do. Tools like Mailchimp already have Double Optin built in.

In practice, however the ICO is unlikely to fine you over a missing Privacy Notice or confusing Optin statements.

 

Sweat the big stuff

 

Opt out processes – make sure you have robust internal processes for Opting people out / removing them from your database(s).  Make sure that it is really easy for people to opt out.

(Note if you are a charity under the new FPS you have to respond to requests to opt out within 28 days).

Marketing Data – review what data you keep on individuals. Is itadequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed” ?  Remove any unnecessary data.  Remember that your customer data maybe held across multiple systems – e.g. CRM system, email tool.

Consent   –  are you sure that you have consent from your contacts for marketing purposes ? Can you prove it  ?

Importantly – if you use lists bought in from third party then you can’t rely on their consent.

In May 2016, the ICO fined Better for the Country Ltd for sending out 500,000 texts, urging people to support its campaign to leave the EU. It obtained the phone numbers from a third party and did not have the consent of the people it sent text messages to.

No one wants to receive one of these !

The ICO states that you are not required to automatically ‘repaper’ or refresh all existing DPA consents in preparation for the GDPR. However it has to be a good idea to play it safe. And, it’s good practice to ensure that you definitely have consent and any new consent gained needs to meet the GDPR standard on being specific, granular, clear, prominent, opt-in, properly documented and easily withdrawn.  Cleaning your marketing database will also bring additional benefits anyway.

Get ready for GDPR – and tailor your messages to your audience

 

Extended information about consumers – under GDPR consumers can be specific about what they are signing up for. So rather than just saying “Sign up to receive information” – it is better to identify what you will use their data for. This is actually a good opportunity to identify customer interests – such as:

  • sign up to receive insights about XXX
  • sign up to receive information about special offers
OCVA email notice
This explains what you’re signing up for…

The key thing here is that you deliver against your promise.  Rather than send out -a one size fits  general newsletter to your contacts, send personalised messages tailored to their stated interests. That way you are much more likely to get a better response.

Profiling of data – there is a lot in the regulations about profiling and especially automated profiling. The bottom line, for me, is to think carefully about how you will augment existing data and – if you are planning to do any tele-matching (e.g. to find out phone numbers for your customers) then make sure your customers are informed.

Data on children – anyone under 16 cannot legally consent. (You have to get the consent of their parents or guardians) So, you need to be very careful about marketing to children. If children aren’t in your target audience then at the least it’s worth asking your customers if they are over 16.

 

Having your carrot and eat it – a win win

Just as the new GDPR regulations will punish poor marketing practices, they will also reward good marketing practice.  There could well be a significant plus side to this work: a better relationship with your customers.

If they have knowingly opted in to receive your marketing communications; if they have freely told you what they are interested in; if they are comfortable with the way that you use their data – then they will trust your brand more, and they are far more likely to respond to your marketing messages.

For me, that’s the win win.

 

I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.

If you can’t beat them, join them – reaching your MVP in Social Media

If you can’t beat them, join them – reaching your MVP in Social Media

I hear a lot from senior managers of a certain age that Social Media isn’t for them. They feel that they should participate but Social Media seems to be an alien world, for the under 25s only.

So here’s my advice on how you adopt some of the practices of Growth Hacking and the Social Media world to build your own presence and take advantage of Social Media tools.

Why MVP ?

Growth hacking is the new approach to development. It’s all about fearlessly getting to market and growing as quickly as you can using whatever methods you can (some not so legal!).  Fail fast, then fail better..

The idea of an Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is that you get to market with just enough so that you can launch, and establish the market opportunity.  If you are successful, you then develop as you go to meet market demand.

You can use the same approach to Social Media.  You don’t need to invest lots of money to build a presence. You can get started very cheaply and easily, and build from there. Provided you follow some key principles.

Don’t underestimate the power of Social Media

Whatever your views on Social Media, no one can deny that it has incredible power. Take, for example, the Champions League Match between Dortmund and Monaco. The match had to be rescheduled due to a bomb attack on the Dortmund bus, and there were thousands of Monaco fans needing accommodation in Dortmund.

German fans turned to Twitter to offer accommodation to Monaco fans.  What was amazing was not just that Monaco fans could find accommodation but the goodwill generated by the many shares on Social Media of Dortmund and Monaco fans together.

Don’t over-estimate Social Media

But, there’s also a lot of hype about Social Media…   Not everyone uses Social Media. And the world of Social Media – like much in the Digital World – is highly fragmented.

Im alot cooler on the internet
This T shirt says it all !

Even in the UK, where we have a relatively high level of literacy (above the European average according to Digital Economy and Society Index DESI 2017 )  there are 5.3 million people who have never used the internet. (Office of National Statistics)

There is also a dark side to the internet. Millions of accounts on the leading platforms are actually fake accounts – and nearly 77% of all internet activity in Europe is “dark social”;  untracked and off the radar. (eConsultancy, Feb 2016)

In the UK, there are 5.3 million people who have never used the internet. (Office of National Statistics)

The Key point is that it is highly unlikely that 100% of your customers and prospects will use Social Media. And it is extremely unlikely that they will use Social exclusively as a channel to find out about your company or your products.

Social Media is a channel not a strategy

So you have to include Social Media in your strategy, but don’t make Social Media the strategy. Social Media platforms provide great communication channels to your target audiences.

But remember that Social Media platforms are highly fragmented and tribalised. So my advice is:

  • Link your messages on Social Media to all of your other channels. Don’t treat each channel (and this applies as well to email newsletters, campaigns, website, PR) as a silo. Link everything together. This will probably save you work too !
  • Consistent messaging – have consistent messages which you deliver across all of your channels.
  • Adapt for different audiences: different audiences have different expectations on the various Social Media channels (and this also applies to email, web sites and so on). For instance, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram tend to be highly image orientated. LinkedIN tends to be more thoughtful and business-like.

However beware of generalisations… because…

Rules – what rules ?

You see a lot of articles setting out rules for how to maximise use of platforms like LinkedIN, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc.

However in reality there are no hard and fast rules. Twitter didn’t even invent the Hashtag:  end-users created this. But this is exactly how these platforms develop and innovate…

rules what rules

Social Media is still relatively new. Most of the major platforms are under 10 years old and there is a lot of change going on in this sector.Facebook owns WhatsApp

  • Facebook introducing new Business features
  • Facebook owns Instagram and is introducing new features to counter the rise of Snapchat
  • Microsoft owns LinkedIN
  • Twitter may charge for Premium membership

Content – quality not quantity

According to Marketing Week, nearly 60% of all corporate content is clutter.  To be fair this doesn’t just apply to Digital content (how many people actually read brochures ?) however Social Media makes it deceptively easy to create and distribute content, without any of the usual balances and controls you would normally apply to a printed piece, or content for your website.

Unintegrated marcomms

People say that the average life of a Tweet is 18 minutes – so, if you add it all up, the vast majority of digital content has no impact, and is quite possibly never read.

So, my advice is as follows,..

  • Quality not quantity – If it isn’t worth saying then don’t say it !!  (Be honest, who actually reads #Mondaymotivation tweets ?)
  • Be consistent – each Social network is a Communications channel… have a clearly defined objective for your messages and adapt them for each channel.
  • Cut and paste blogs for each separate channel

Play the game – when you get to your MVP you can be selective over who follows you

If you are going to participate then you need a Minimum Viable Presence – this means a credible number of followers.

  • So, for LinkedIN, this means at least 200 followers, preferable over 1000 to become an All-star Profile.
  • For Twitter and Facebook, at least 500 followers

There are a number of simple techniques to do this. Contact me to find out more.

This means that you will have to accept a lot of poor quality followers … people who have no business value… but I would say that you can be fussy about your followers once you’ve got to your MVP…

So, my advice is that, to get the best out of Social Media you need to put it in its place.  It’s a valuable communications channel, which can really add value and reach new people in new ways.

Just don’t put too much effort into using Social Media.  No more, no less.

I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.

Digital transformation in Publishing – my presentation to The Galley Club

Digital transformation in Publishing – my presentation to The Galley Club

Here’s my presentation to the Galley Club last night on Digital Transformation in the Publishing Industry.

Here’s a write up of the event by members of the Galley Club.

an excellent account of e-business transformations and what this means for publishers today

 

A great insight into the varied Digital World

 

 

The Twitter challenge – advice from our future leaders

The Twitter challenge
My slide from the challenge…

What do we want from our graduates entering the world of work ?  We want creative leaders, according to Dublin City University president Brian MacCraith.

So I was both a little bit surprised and – I’ve got to say – impressed last week by a class at Abingdon and Witney College.

Let me explain… I’m training as a part-time Lecturer at the College, and I volunteered to set an activity for a class of Higher Education level Management students.

 The Twitter challenge

The idea of the activity was to set a Strategic challenge. So I chose Twitter.  Twitter, to me, seem to be very much at a strategic crossroads. After years of growth, suddenly they have a major challenge – their user base isn’t as growing as fast as it was, and they are losing advertising revenue, partly due to the association with Donald Trump (the “Trump effect”).

So, the challenge was – if the students were running Twitter, what would they do next ?

Like a keen, newly inducted, earnest teacher I had a complete timed plan for activity ready, along with help if the students needed some inspiration…. I even had some “late breaking news” lined up to mix things up half-way through..

They didn’t need any of it..

 Creative solutions from tomorrows leaders

They weren’t daunted by the challenge. What folowed was a lively and wide-ranging dicussion covering celebrities to bots.

Some students brushed off the current woes relating to Trump with a very mature assessment that, if their model is based on growth, and they are growing then they don’t have a problem longer term.

Others came up with ideas to target new celebrities and drive growth (and improve Twitter’s image).

Others suggested focusing on driving live events through Twitter ..

 

Rising to the occasion

 

Personally I learned a lot by this activity.  Principally not to underestimate the potential of students. Give them an interesting challenge and they will rise to the occasion.

Isn’t this just what we want from our future leaders ?

 

Revinventing the eNewsletter for the Twitter Age

Revinventing the eNewsletter for the Twitter Age

Isn’t it surprising that, in an age of instant news, AI and increasing automation the humble eNewsletter still persists as a staple of Marketing Communications ?

Newsletters have been around as long as printing – in fact historians believe the first recorded print newsletter appeared in 1538. And eNewsletters have been around as long as email – the late 1990s.

They may not be the trendiest of Marketing Tactics, but I believe eNewsletters just need a revamp to bring them into the modern age.

Here are my 6 steps to reinvent your eNewsletter…

Step 1: it starts with the strategy

Just like any other Marketing Tactic, you should be clear about what you are trying to do – i.e. Who are you trying to target, when you want to say it and what you want to say.

How you reach your target audience is another matter. So it’s important to separate the medium from the message.

Step 2: sort out your database

This may be really really obvious but to send out an eNewsletter you need – err – a database. Yet, all too often I have found that data quality can be a major problem.

In one of my email campaigns I was given a spreadsheet of 30,000 contacts – all it contained were email addresses… So we had no idea who these people were, whether or not they were the right target audience. And we didn’t know if we had their permission for us to contact them.

So, before you start your eNewsletter planning, get your data into shape. It’s always worth cleaning your data, even if it comes from your CRM system and Sales Teams. Remember that your customers will expect you to know their details. And, if you want to do any personalisation or targetting you’ll need information like firstname, Job title, company name etc…

There are a number of ways of cleaning your data, including:

  • Telephone your contacts
  • Self-cleaning – ask your contacts to confirm their information
  • Progressive profiling – use automation tools to request missing information

And the new GDPR regulation is a great method for cleaning data as well. The regulation is based on the German Double Option, in which works as follows..

  1. You ask someone for their permission to market to them – they fill out a form and provide an email address
  2. You send an email to them requesting them to confirm that they want to optin (hence the double optin)

In my experience the end result is that every email on your database has been confirmed as current and accurate.

Step 3: get creative – ditch “Sign up for our Newsletter”

When it comes to getting new contacts for your eNewsletter, then you have to be a bit creative. “Sign up for our Newsletter” is one of the least successful ways of gaining subscribers.

Designing effective Calls to Action is a special art and there’s lots of great advice available such as https://boagworld.com/design/10-techniques-for-an-effective-call-to-action/ .

It’s best to be a specific as possible, such as:

  • Focus on the value your call to action provides: e.g. register for insights into the world of XX
  • Address the user’s questions about the call to action
  • Have a small number of distinct calls to action
  • Use scarcity to encourage action: e.g. limited offers
google-sign-up
Great example of a sign up form from Google

 

Step 4: content is king / the importance of the contract

A very long time ago Permission Marketing was all the rage. The basic idea was that it was a reciprocal deal. I’ll give you my details If you tell me about stuff I’m interested in.

Nowadays the contract seems to be broken – I find a lot of digital content is one-way traffic based on your transactional or browsing behaviour.

Interestingly there are now signs that Permission Marketing could be on its way back..

“So in 2017, if you haven’t already done so, ditch the newsletter for an automated email series full of value, teaching your audience about something specific that they actually want to learn about.” Sumo 13 Email Marketing Trends to Follow in 2017: A Sumo-Sized Guide

So it’s worth taking the time to understand your target audience, and their interests. There are many studies that show that personalised content gets a much higher response rate than non-personalised.

Just – please – avoid the “one size fits all approach”

Step 5: timing is everything

The original print Newsletters were designed around print production schedules. Yet the design and concept of the vast majority of eNewsletters that I see have changed little from their print forefathers.

In a world of 24/7 instant news, does anyone actually sit by their phone or desktop eagerly anticipating your eNewsletter so they can get up to date with the latest information ?

But packaging content together does have value and I think there’s a lot to be learned from Media organisations.

For example take the BBC. They distribute their content via a multitude of channels: TV, web sites, Apps and Social Media. The key thing is that they have different types of content for different purposes, such as:

  • Breaking News alerts
  • Short articles
  • Long, in depth articles

Your content may be much simpler than the BBC, but you could still implement a hybrid approach to provide your audience with a range of content to interest and inform them. And, of course, like many Media companies you could even charge for premium content.

Step 6: expand your reach – think beyond email

It’s important to reach your audience WHERE they are. And this means you should not just rely on email, especially as,  according to the latest stats, most emails are now opened on mobile devices.  

mobile-email-june-2016-600w

 

So be careful not to design eNewsletters that look beautiful on the iMac Retina 4K displays used by your Marketing Department or Agency but which are not optimised for mobile devices.. 

71,6% of consumers will delete emails if they don’t look good on mobile, while an average of 10% will read it anyway. – Adestra “Consumer Adoption & Usage Study” (2016)

Finally don’t forget print. Print is a very powerful medium. It’s much more likely to reach its destination and more likely to be read.

In general, 80% of traditional mail is opened while 80% of emails is disregarded (just 20% is read). B2C Print

Final thoughts…take advantage of your key advantage

You know your audience and you could know their details & interests !

This is your key advantage. Use the information you have from CRM systems and other sources to create compelling content that is relevant and interesting to your audience.

So what could an eNewsletter look like in the digital age ? This is what I’d recommend..

  • Redesign your eNewsletter to make it short and sweet – like a Twitter feed
  • Send out information multiple times across multiple channels
  • Throw away the publication schedule – if you’ve got important information to get out to your audience, send it out ASAP
  • Use blogs for your news stories. That way you are not communicating key information you are building a knowledgebase (great for long term SEO)

This way your eNewsletter will be fit for modern age.

I’m a Freelance Marketing Consultant. Contact me to find out how I can help your transform your business for the digital world.