So, the deadline’s now pending (25 May), but many small businesses are still floundering about how to respond to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation.
We’ve written a couple of posts on this now – most recently, here.
But this new piece spotted over in Marketing Week might also be helpful. It acknowledges the issues, but also offers a ray of light.
‘While a lack of awareness and resources is putting many SMEs in danger of being on the wrong side of the law, those that have taken proactive steps with appropriate advice could even be able to teach larger companies some lessons’, it suggests, applauding the ‘simplicity of their approaches and the benefits some are already seeing in terms of customer engagement’.
And it interviews a number of business leaders grappling with the problem themselves.
Certainly worth a quick read?
‘No business will be immune when GDPR comes into force’, starts the piece. And many still feel somewhat in the dark.
‘Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggests most SMEs are cutting it fine when it comes to meeting the deadline, however. In late February 2018, three months from the enforcement date, it found 90% of small firms were still not fully prepared, while a third hadn’t even begun preparing and 35% were only in the very early stages.’
So, what are the best steps – and how are the interviewees of the Marketing Week piece faring?
Some positive messages do emerge from their experiences. And some solid advice.
Many are calling on outside help, while also designating at least one person within their small business responsible. This seems a good, working model.
‘While many SMEs are finding that outsourcing or at least relying on external expertise is the kick-start needed to get the compliance train rolling, it’s clear that someone internally has to take ownership of compliance – as well as bringing the rest of the organisation with them’, says Marketing Week.
‘You have to identify a number of key owners’, the piece quotes Steven Roberts, Head of Marketing at Griffith College, Dublin, speaking from his personal experience. ‘If others see influencers in the organisation taking the right steps, there is a filtering through of awareness and understanding that this is a significant development.’
And on the plus side, a number report the resultant streamlining of their databases has had a positive impact.
‘The fines are the stick but the carrot is that databases become more focused,’ is how Steven Roberts puts it; ‘contacts that want to receive messaging get it and there’s real value in giving customers what they actually want.’
‘I see a massive benefit’, says Miles Thorp, Digital Director of Banana Moon.
‘The house-cleaning is something we should have been doing a long time ago. We shouldn’t be forcing stuff on people that don’t need it. It’s a waste of our time and a waste of theirs. The number of people we’ve been emailing has reduced massively but the engagement is better.’
Jo Bauser, Head of Marketing for the Henley Festival, says the same. ‘We were really shocked that the database went from 24,000 to 8,000 and worried that it would affect ticket sales and engagement.’ But no, engagement’s better now.
Overall, at least. There were a few problems: loyal subscribers ignoring the reminders because they assumed it was a phishing exercise, and then missing out on tickets to events.
‘What we did in the second email was what we should have done in the first’, says Jo Bauer. ‘We just asked if people wanted information from us and they thought it was a scam. In the second we explained we were reconfirming because of GDPR.’
But overall the message emerging seems clear: better to have a smaller list of genuinely engaged customers. That’s one tangible positive coming out of GDPR for these small businesses.
There’s a lot more in the piece – see it here in full in Marketing Week. But we hope this at least encourages.