GDPR Consent – Introducing the Marketing Relationship through Customer Permission

The GDPR consent and customer permission requirements place a new focus of transparency and a new start for the marketing relationship with consumers…

The Need to be Explicit

From a digital marketing perspective, the most important change under the GDPR comes to customer permission and consent. No longer can customers be bamboozled by unclear terms and conditions or tricked with pre-ticked consent boxes. Marketers will be forced to try a new strategy – that of truth and transparency.

Despite slight confusion over the precise meaning of the language used in the regulations – “explicit consent” has been debated in its interpretation – what is clear is that for any personal data use that requires customer permission, consent will have to be “opt in” rather than opt out. What’s more, the onus will be on the company to state “clearly and unambiguously” what that permission is for to “demonstrate that consent was given” within the guidelines of GDPR’s definition, bringing the GDPR theme of transparency to the beginning of the data use process:

“Any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of his or her wishes by which the data subject, either by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to personal data relating to them being processed.”

Definition of consent, Article 4 of the GDPR

Living by their own rules, the document leaves no ambiguity as to what the “clear affirmative action” needed for a valid consent would be:

“This could include ticking a box when visiting an Internet website, choosing technical settings for information society services or by any other statement or conduct which clearly indicates in this context the data subject’s acceptance of the proposed processing of their personal data. Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should therefore not constitute consent.”

Recital 25 of the GDPR

The Benefits of Customer Permission

But before marketers despair at this reliance on the customer actually providing their permission to be contacted across a variety of channel and activities – not to mention the need to re-permission all those “implied consents” in marketing databases gained by somewhat nefarious means – they should be honest about the current effectiveness of their data-led marketing. With the continual efforts to use personal data to reduce the media wastage that is common across all digital marketing strategies, has anyone considered the impact of an actively unreceptive audience? Under implied consent, our marketing bases have grown with a silent majority for whom apathy masks their annoyance. While seemingly unsolicited communication (from the consumer perspective) damages brand reputation and engagement amongst this base, actively unsubscribing is a step too far for them. “Implied consent” has been a driving factor in the inefficiencies of digital marketing, prizing quantity over quality.

The enforced changes under GDPR present the opportunity to begin the marketing relationship on the right foot, by asking the customer what they want from their engagement. While focusing on permissions management may be somewhat foreign to many marketers, it is not hard to see how the permissions dialogue at the beginning of, even throughout, the marketing funnel might improve conversion later on. What’s more, your brand can guarantee they are spending their marketing budgets on informed individuals with the control and understanding to signify their receptivity to the marketing message.

While clearly focused at improving the customer experience, the GDPR changes to consent and permissions can benefit the digital marketing approach by improving the quality of the target audience throughout the marketing journey. It is worth bearing in mind that with this “permission” also comes the responsibility to act on the data – expectations have been set with the customer, which means companies need to have the capability to personalise and contextualize their messages. That is the ethos we at Teavaro are approaching this GDPR implementation with; we are currently assisting our enterprise clients with integrating permissions management with the customer journey, not only at the beginning of the marketing relationship, but throughout, to improve the efficacy of the digital marketing strategy.

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