Although the key date of 25th May has been thrown around as the ‘launch date’ for GDPR, technically speaking we ‘should’ have been doing it for the last two years and the 25th May date is actually when GDPR becomes enforceable – the last two years has been the ‘grace’ period. Many companies have already started to implement GDPR – with varying levels of success. GDPR-MK have identified a couple of examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Last summer, JD Whetherspoons took the VERY bold decision to delete their entire marketing database. Yes – you’ve read correctly. The whole lot. All 700,000 of them. Why did they do this?
Having been penalised for a breech in 2015 for misusing data, they took the decision to not hold ANY data they felt was unnecessary to hold. They now use their website and social media to promote their special offers. Many people would hold on to the customer data ‘as we can’t risk impacting sales.’ Well, we aren’t financial analysts here at GDPR-MK, but a quick Google search found that in the months after they deleted their database, their sales actually went up! Now the article, which you can read here, actually suggests that a poor British summer drove people to the pub! The point is, deleting their database didn’t harm their business in any way – they are looking at other, more creative (and compliant ways) to engage with their customers and that’s exactly how GDPR-MK can help you. You can read the article on Marketing Week here.
The Good (again)
So, there’s been a bit of backward and forwarding over this next example, but one area that may really struggle post GDPR is the charity sector. The RNLI were one of the early adopters of GDPR and they made a few decisions which, with hingsight, perhaps made things a bit trickier for them as they were acting without the clear guidance of the ICO and Fundraising Regulator. However, we’ve copied a statement from a news article about their campaign and we think this is really interesting (Willet is their fundraising director FYI):
“We are delighted that currently we have over 450,000 people who have opted in, which is double our original, conservative, ambition of 225,000,” Willet said.
“We originally projected that we could lose £36m over the coming five years, and we are currently reviewing this figure now that we know who has opted in to understand the impact.”
Wow, they’ve targeted their message and have a better database – things aren’t as gloomy as they first thought and they’re reviewing their projections accordingly.
The charity said that the opt-in only campaign had achieved a response rate of 32.6 per cent, more than triple the 10.4 per cent response rate from the charity’s 2015 summer campaign. It also said that the average donation in 2016 was £8.39, almost triple the £2.94 average donation from the previous year’s appeal. He also said the charity’s net income ratio has improved since the move to opt in, as it is now “spending less by contacting fewer of those individuals who had a lower propensity to respond” previously.
What this is saying is that a higher quality (ie: people who have opted in) database, the RNLI have seen response rates triple and donations triple. And they’ve spent less on email marketing to people that don’t want to receive email marketing. And they aren’t at risk of a hefty fine.
Despite this, the appeal raised just £526,000, compared with over £800,000 in 2015.
This is a shame and will account for the £36m losses they projected. HOWEVER, hopefully the RNLI will look at other creative ways to recoup these loses and increase their revenue without emailing people they shouldn’t be.
The Bad. And The Ugly.
This is an absolutely shameful way to go to market and goes completely against all of GDPR-MK’s advice. Hence we’ve given their case study The Bad and The Ugly title. Brace yourselves!
Low cost airline Flybe was fined £70,000 for sending out 3.3 million marketing emails to people who had unsubscribed (or opted out) of receiving them. They asked these people – who had opted out – to update their marketing preferences and gave them the chance to enter a prize draw. The head of enforcement at the ICO gave this statement which you can read in this BBC article here:
“Sending emails to determine whether people want to receive marketing, without the right consent, is still marketing, and it is against the law,” said Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the Information Commissioner’s Office.
“In Flybe’s case, the company deliberately contacted people who had already opted out of emails from them.”
GDPR-MK agree and think that the fine was issued fairly as they should have removed those people from their database as soon as they opted out of receiving communications from them.
If you’re not sure how to get ready for GDPR, please come along to one of GDPR-MK’s information sessions (link) or consider booking a bespoke session (link) so that we can assess your business needs.