All You Need to Know About GDPR and Direct Mail
An average citizen might not be aware of the data privacy laws in the UK. However, businesses and marketers must equip themselves with the same. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in operation since 2018 and has changed how you use customer data for marketing purposes.
Though it primarily regulates digital marketing and electronic communications, direct mail marketing is not left out of its jurisdiction entirely. In this blog, we will discuss the basics of GDPR, how it applies to direct mail, the ways in which you can become GDPR compliant, and so on.
What Is GDPR?
GDPR is one of the strictest data privacy laws across the globe. It was drafted and enforced by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. But it applies to anyone around the world who deals with the personal data of citizens residing in any of the EU and EEA countries. If any data breach is reported or the rules of the GDPR are not followed, the accused is liable to pay fines running up to millions of euros. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you reside or operate anywhere in the world. You have to follow the GDPR laws if dealing with the customer data of EU and EEA residents.
The GDPR law seeks to offer better data protection to customers along with the ability to control who uses their personal data and how. This regulation replaces the Data Protection Act, 1998 and is beneficial to both businesses and customers. It aims at striking a balance between the data controllers and data subjects. Before we move ahead, let us get a quick overview of some common terms related to the GDPR.
- Data controller: The company that decides how to process personal customer data (names, email addresses, mailing addresses, date of birth, and so on) and controls it.
- Data subjects: Identifiable individuals or customers whose data is collected and processed.
- Data processing: Activities carried out with the personal data of the data subjects.
- Data processor: The one that actually processes the personal data.
- Data protection officer: The DPO is responsible for assuring that the GDPR rules are complied with.
GDPR and Direct Mail
Though the GDPR does not focus on direct mail directly, it does control direct mail activities to some extent, which is why marketers should remain compliant with it. When discussing GDPR and direct mail, we can narrow the talk down to three questions:
Do You Require Explicit Consent to Send GDPR-Compliant Direct Mail?
One of the major reasons why direct mail marketing has surpassed email marketing is the growing number of data privacy restrictions on the latter. In the case of direct mail, companies are not required to obtain explicit content from customers and prospects for sending them any direct mail piece. This way, you can target relevant people easily.
What Is Legitimate Interest?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) coined the term “legitimate interest” to offer some extent of flexibility to marketers for data processing along with avoiding spam mailing.
Though explicit consent is not required for direct mail marketers, it is presumed that they do consider the customers’ legitimate interests. A legitimate interest is what basically decides whether a direct mail item is GDPR compliant or not. The use of personal data for sending direct mail should be valid and required.
It is not lawfully defined what counts as legitimate interests, so marketers can do the same at their own discretion. If a person shows any kind of interest in a company in any way, it can be considered a legitimate interest. Similarly, past or existing customers can also be treated as data subjects who have already shown interest. In short, legitimate interest assures that a person expects to receive something that is relevant to them and will not be surprised or annoyed to receive the same. It is completely opposite to getting unsolicited mail which is absolutely unwanted and sometimes even irrelevant.
For instance, you are a daycare centre and want to target parents of small children. In this case, you cannot send out direct mail items to people who do not have any children. Your targeted customers must be simply interested in your brand, and your products or services should be relevant to them.
What Are Your Responsibilities to Stay Compliant With GDPR?
Legitimate interest can help direct mail marketers target better and not waste money and resources on sending mail items to uninterested customers. However, since there is no opt-in mechanism under the GDPR for direct mail, it is your responsibility to handle customer data properly and legally. Sometimes, it can get tricky to decide whether something can be called a legitimate interest. This ambiguity is risky, which is why direct mail marketers should take care about a couple of things:
- Justify the grounds on which you define legitimate interests.
- Explain the necessity of using certain personal details of customers.
- State the clear and true purpose of personal processing data.
- Determine the data subjects whose data you are planning to process. If they fall under the EU, take care to follow all the rules.
- Introduce a proper and easy opt-out system so that uninterested customers can opt-out at any time; make sure that you rightly exclude such customers from your mailing lists.
- Review the operations of all third parties with whom you share customer data. Take care that these vendors really need this shared data and are handling it legally.
- Be aware of the GDPR provisions, like things to be done in case of a data breach, and so on.
Some more responsibilities that marketers need to fulfil while sending out direct mail items under GDPR are:
- Explain the purpose of your mail and its benefits to recipients clearly.
- Analyze responses. Customers who are continuously not responding or reacting to your direct mail in any way are most likely to be uninterested.
- Automate your direct mail activities using PostGrid’s print and mail solutions. PostGrid is not only GDPR compliant but also compliant with several other data privacy certifications and laws regarding direct mail marketing. From smooth data capture, data processing, storing, and distributing direct mail items in accordance with GDPR, PostGrid can help you conduct lawful direct mail campaigns and avoid any legal hassles and penalties.
Benefits of GDPR Compliance for Direct Mail
It may seem that the GDPR rules make it difficult for direct mail marketers to carry on with their campaigns. In reality, GDPR simply aims at offering customers’ their right to data privacy while also helping businesses only target a relevant audience. It is completely baseless and useless sending mail to irrelevant customers. GDPR allows you to concentrate on prospects and customers only so that you can save your precious time and effort.
Secondly, direct mail does not require explicit consent. Direct mail marketing under GDPR is entirely based on implied consent or legitimate interest. This way, you can skip through the entire opt-in process and start mailing faster. Furthermore, you can use direct mail to target inactive email users or simply add additional touchpoints to gather more responses.
PostGrid’s GDPR-compliant direct mail solutions can help companies avoid worrying about related laws and regulations and focus only on conversions. You can now print and mail postcards, letters, and cheques easily and lawfully anywhere in the world.