So 25th May is D-Day – or more to the point, GDPR Day and as business owners, we need to be on top of it. The General Data Protection Regulation’s objective is to help safeguard individual’s data protection rights and all companies, no matter what size, will be legally obliged to build in privacy settings into their digital settings and websites and have them switched on by default.

But what does that mean for us marketers? Now, GDPR can seem overwhelming – there are hundreds of thousands of pages dedicated to it online discussing and defining it – but for small business owners, the enforcement of GDPR can be an opportunity to really define and hone their data. As business owners, the main areas that need to be focussing on are: data permission, data access and data focus. 

Data permission is all about how you manage opt-ins, so people that have requested to receive promotional / marketing material from you. As it stands now, we can use this data and interest as a sign of people wanting to receive more from you, such as a newsletter, but as from 25th May this won’t cut it anymore. What will be required is that we need to make sure we have actively sought (never assumed) permission from your prospective clients. So it needs to be clear exactly what they’re signing up for and not assumed that just because they filled in a web form on your site, they want to receive your newsletter – you need to make it clear that you are specifically asking them to sign up for your newsletter and when they will receive it.

Data access is about allowing easy navigation and accessibility for a person’s data to be removed if they so wish. So if there is outdated or inaccurate personal data, that person has a right to remove it. The best way of ensuring this is always having an unsubscribe option and link on all your marketing (which most of us do anyway) and allowing the users access to their user profile for them to manage their preferences.

Data focus is about really thinking about what do you need from a person and assessing if we’re asking a bit too much. We’ve all had that sign up process where you’ve been asked all your details and then your favourite colour or something similar. The point is that the company doesn’t viably need to know that, it’s more of a ‘nice to have.’ You can ask for anything – as long as you can prove why you need it. So, for example if I owned a fashion business, I may legitimately ask my sign-ups for their dress size and birthday date as, as part of my marketing to my loyal customers, I want to send them a gift of a dress on their birthday – this makes sense and can be justified.

With these three areas defined, it doesn’t look that scary, does it? And you know what, as marketers we can use this legislation being enforced as an opportunity to not only clean up our data but to refine it to our needs too and ask the questions that we really want and need the answers to which can give us a huge insight into our businesses.

Also, let’s be honest, we don’t want people on our marketing lists who don’t want to be there, we want engaged, focussed lists of audiences that are invested in our business that we can organically grow in the right way.

At the moment, myself and my clients are getting ready for GDPR by preparing to ask our contact lists to re-subscribe and re-engage and yes, we may lose some, but so what – we’ll have the people who really want to be there in our gang.