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D-Day is here...or should I say GDPR-Day?

Lois Dixon
by Lois Dixon - May 25, 2018



I am struggling for breath as I write this. Desperately gasping for air, arms flailing as I try to get to the surface. Should I give in and become buried or continue to try to keep my head above the ground? This is obviously all figurative and the surface I refer to is that of my inbox, and what I am being buried under is emails...GDPR emails to be specific.  

The world seems to have gone mad.

I have just received an email from a company I bought a hair product from over 10 years ago, who hasn’t emailed me in the past eight years; probably because their existing CRM system has told them I am not engaged and they shouldn’t waste their precious time and budget marketing to me. But now GDPR has come in to force, companies seem to have forgotten all of their segmentation work and are scrabbling around at the bottom of their database to try and make sure their email lists are compliant. Let’s have some common sense people! The only thing the aforementioned ‘hair company’ have achieved is to disengage me further and irritate me by emailing me such nonsense! I am being inundated with similar emails from companies I regularly or occasionally buy goods from, who have perfectly good grounds for emailing me after today, (using Legitimate Interest or soft opt-in under PECR as their grounds for processing), but instead they have gone down the same route as many others…a needless blanket email begging for consent, which actually destroys their most valuable asset – their customer list.

GDPR is hanging over most businesses like the sword of Damocles – it has massive implications for those who do not comply. It is understandable that people are worrying, but let’s face it…my local dentist isn’t going to be stormed by a task force of GDPR officers on May 26th as they’ve sent me an appointment reminder email. Businesses need to stop panicking and realise that this legislation doesn’t stop them from sending emails full stop. In fact, it doesn’t stop them from sending marketing emails specifically…it does however, ensure the customer is centric and companies take responsibility for processing their data legally. The ICO is the regulator but they also understand how GDPR is affecting SMEs and large businesses alike and have assured a reasonable approach to regulation. 

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner of the ICO, recently wrote in her blog:
“Yes, budgets can be tight, technology is moving fast and there’s a race to keep up with competitors. But if you can demonstrate that you have the appropriate systems and thinking in place you will find the ICO to be a proactive and pragmatic regulator aware of business needs and the real world.” 
In other words, ‘don’t panic, get the relevant safeguards and methods in place and you’ll be fine’.

I’ve said it before and I think now is a good time to say it again…GDPR should be seen as an opportunity. Businesses should have used the past two years to get their house in order (yep, that’s how long ago the GDPR announcement - that very few people actually knew about - was made!). Sift the wheat from the chaff and ensure all the marketing they do going forward goes to the people who actually want to listen. And for those companies who have had their house in order and their databases compliant all along – let’s just keep doing what we’re doing! Being transparent, keeping the customer central to everything we do, utilising the GDPR functionality of our CRM and not sending blanket emails to the world.

On that note, I’ve just received another five re-consent emails, so if somebody could please throw me a lifeline, I’d be grateful as I’d love to ‘stay in touch’. 

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