It didn’t take long, did it? You must have noticed those emails starting to fill your inbox again in ever-increasing numbers?

Wasn’t GDPR supposed to put an end to all that? It seems the legal line may have been a little more blurred than we were led to believe.

Obviously, as responsible marketers we’re as keen as anyone to support the principles behind the GDPR. Who wouldn’t subscribe to the idea of giving the consumer more control, particularly when it leads to less waste for the business and more relevant communication with a more engaged audience? However, there’s been a lot of schizophrenic behaviour over the last few months and it doesn’t reflect well on the brands that appear to not know what they’re doing or have even had a change of mind about personal data.


We can all remember the importance of explicit consent, and why it was a prerequisite to enable ongoing digital communication with prospects once 25 May rolled around. Cue a flurry of increasingly shrill requests for attention, offering a bizarre mix of benefits beyond the imagination. (Please don’t go. Was it something we said? We don’t want to lose you. Is this really good bye?).

I’ve been keeping a personal tally of ‘tenacity’. The winner was a German brand that for reasons best understood by my solicitor will have to remain nameless. They emailed me eight times in the five days running up to the introduction of GDPR, including twice within two hours on 23 May.

I thought this was sure to be the low point, but last Friday another offender plumbed new depths. A brand that had explicitly sought my consent to continue contacting me, ignored the fact that I’d decided not to grant them permission. They sent me an unsolicited email anyway, asking if I’d like to purchase their latest offering. I was genuinely staggered that they’d decided to ignore the small matter of consent.

This brand thinks it knows best. They promised not to contact me again, then ignored my instruction and broke their promise within a matter of weeks. So why should I ever trust them again?

Far from being a tactical mitigated risk, deciding to play fast and loose with the GDPR and being ‘cute’ with their customers can instantly undo years of excellent CRM work. It can even rapidly transform potential advocates into vehement rejectors.

The good news is that other companies, playing by the letter and the spirit of the new law, are beginning to reap the rewards. Manchester United has seen a 25% increase in Read rates and a 50% reduction in Complaint rates. Lloyds Bank has seen equally positive results. At the same time, click rates have almost doubled for the Royal Society for the protection of Birds (RSPB)¹ since introducing a new best-in-class GDPR-compliant sign-up process. Proof, if proof were needed, that done properly, GDPR is good news for everyone.



Associate Director and all round Petrolhead

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