Helping our clients unlock the opportunity of GDPR

GDPR is a hot topic for many of our clients. May 2018 is fast approaching, and if they have any sort of customer database, they are facing up to the possibility that by June they’ll have a lot less people available for them to market to directly.

To many service providers it’s a significant threat to their whole business. The goal we often hear is to minimise the decline; to get the ‘least bad’ GDPR outcome. But some others are seeing an opportunity. It’s a market-wide challenge and so is a chance for them to build greater customer-centricity and gain a competitive advantage.

While different organisations are approaching this challenge very differently, we are seeing a couple of trends in approach coming through; a focus on design and copywriting and a harnessing of behaviour change principles in creating opt-in interventions. Both are areas where we can help.

These trends have, to some degree, been borne out of uncertainty and frustration

The task of complying with GDPR requirements and still maximising the results for the business is not that easy. To start with, the rules you need to play by aren’t clear.

Over the last eighteen months we’ve had many clients vent to us about the opaque and shifting range of legal interpretations, opinions and advice. What can be done to gain permissions from current, lapsed or new customers? How is it different by channel? What, precisely, is covered by service messaging, marketing and ‘legitimate interest’?

We’ve seen stressed internal counsels and frustrated marketing leadership months into GDPR projects needing to scrap their plans and start again, as advice changes. Even the most prepared business implementations are going down to the wire.

Unsurprisingly, faced with this uncertainty, marketers are leaning on what they can control, on what they know. Messaging is coming through as a key lever among our clients.

There are no second chances here, once consent has been withheld

There is an inherent problem for approaches such as A/B testing; an opt out is an opt out. So, while clients are certainly still strongly focussed on how, where and in what way they make interventions, we’re seeing less direct, more traditional research approaches used to scrutinise copy and design options and to optimise message components for different channels and possible audiences.

It must also be recognised that this is not really a customer’s issue. This is all about business goals, and too often it’s not approached as a customer-centric intervention. Our clients who understand this tension are seeking to create at least the perception of a ‘value exchange’. And this in turn is drawing them to incorporate behaviour change principles in their solutions.

The desired behavioural outcome is very simple and specific

This lends itself to practical application of behaviour change principles. Faced with the desired outcome of “getting our customers to sign up to continued marketing” the behavioural biases that act as barriers and enablers can be identified and their impact explored.

Clients are using this to optimise their messaging. They are building in the copy and design implications to get the most out of the intervention that they can. Every incremental gain has value.

How will these optimised interventions cut through in the impending scrum to gain consent across almost every brand relationship people have? We will have to wait and see. Changes in perceptions as people get more and more used to being asked for consent is one thing that it’s very difficult to predict.

One thing is clear, if a business hasn’t planned and optimised their approach to maximising their customer opt-ins, they are likely to be in a much worse position when the dust settles in June.

But however well GDPR strategy works, there remains an uncomfortable truth in all of the energy spent on optimising consent. If organisations are worried that people don’t want to hear from them, what does that say about how their customers feel about their brands and the quality of their communications? This is another area we can help.

To find out more, please get in touch.