Text Marketing and the EU-GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
Although the bulk of the EU GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation) that rolled out in 2018 concerned data privacy, storage, security, and disclosure, at Smart Office we are still fielding questions from customers expanding into other countries who want to ensure their communications are compliant. Keep reading for important guidelines that will affect you if you market or do business in the European Union.
Opt in, Opt out. Done. Right? Not exactly. The United States is an “Opt-Out” market; for digital marketing, such as ads, cross-promotion on sites, and email campaign, many companies still purchase lists or mass-notify customers about promotions and services. These organizations then rely on the customer to “opt out” – to unsubscribe – in order to remain compliant with US regulations. In practice, most marketing and communication in the US operates along the lines of the Do Not Call list – you must specifically opt out of communications, but can be opted in at any time. Even Facebook groups operate this way, as anyone who’s been added to a group without their permission knows.
Text marketing in the US is a well-known exception to this playbook. Although spamming and “opt out marketing” still occur under the radar of carriers and enforcers, for the most part customers and prospects will need to “opt in” to receive communications from a company. This “Opt In” is usually managed by your text marketing vendor, and indicates that, at some point in your relationship with you, a specific contact actively elected to receive your communications. The EU GDPR extends the concept of active consent across all digital marketing, personalization, and communication.
Will It Affect You?
Many companies are still struggling to bring their marketing and data practices in line with the GDPR. Last week, a new website https://gdpr.eu/, was launched to assist businesses in navigating the regulations.
Smart Office does not provide legal technology consulting services. As a service to our clients, however, we are offering the summary below of the points from the EUGDPR that may be of interest to our text marketing customers. To ensure your specific communications and data processes are compliant, customers marketing and doing business in the EU should consult their Data Protection Officer or the comprehensive information available at https://gdpr.eu/.
- Right to Consent: Companies must make consent (opt in) language transparent and easy to understand. They must also provide users with the ability to withdraw consent (opt out). Sample compliant language is available on our texting platform’s default online customer sign-up pages.
- Right to Access: EU Customers must be able to access their data and have the right to know how their data is being processed and for what purpose. This is primarily a concern to marketers who are using data fields to collect specific demographic data on customers in the EU.
- Right to be Forgotten: EU Customers have the right to have their personal data erased (including by third-party vendors).
A few helpful best practices will help you keep your marketing compliant:
- Segmented Lists: If you have segmented your marketing list by category (topic) and by region, it is recommended that you segment the EU recipients separately from US recipients. This is because EU recipients must separately, specifically opt in to segmented lists by topic or campaign if those topics or lists were disclosed during opt in.
- Opt Out: Although it takes up characters in your message, the easiest way to ensure you are compliant with the requirement to allow for easy opt-out (withdrawal of consent) is a “STOP” alert at the end of your communications.
- Respect the User: Much of the EU GDPR concerns the rights of the individual, and their interests, freedom, and privacy. In all communications via text message, we advise clients to balance their marketing and communication objectives with the interests of their contacts. Is the communication relevant and necessary? Is it urgent or time-sensitive? If not, is there a less intrusive way to notify the user – for example, on their next back office login?
If you’d like to discuss your marketing and communication strategies with our Direct Selling industry experts, give us a call. Smart Office offers a variety of compliant, global platforms that will help you get your message into the hands of your distributors and customers quickly and effectively.
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