As a marketer, your job is to build a relationship between consumer and brand. In simple terms, you’ve got to provide a reason for customers to choose you over everybody else, so you’ve got to get creative. Unfortunately, when you get creative, you can forget the marketing legalities and compliance you must follow. While you may regard the legalities as a nuisance, failing to follow them could result in more than lost consumers. Take Facebook, for example, suffering massive repercussions for selling on users data. You don’t want to fall into that trap – you’ll not come out of it unscathed. Washington Direct Mail, a leading UK direct mail company, are sharing the importance of direct mail marketing legalities and how to work around them.
So, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is significant harm to your reputation and fines for breaking the law. Marketing compliance is all the more important with the GDPR bringing the issue front and centre. The GDPR legislation comes into fruition on May 25th 2018 – designed to safeguard customer data – so you must be aware of the objectives and what may occur should you fail. To put it into perspective, failure to comply with the GDPR can result in a £20 million pound fine, or 4% of your global turnover. On top of that, you’ll lose revenue as consumers go elsewhere. Why should they invest in your brand if you are not careful with their personal data?
When it comes to your business reputation, there’s nothing more harmful than failure to comply with marketing legalities. As Facebook faces pressure over their data scandal, users are losing faith in the brand. Subsequently, their shares fell by as much as 8.1%, dropping to $170.06 (US). This significant decline in shares wiped out all of their gains they had accumulated over the year, and was the largest drop since 2015. However, you can avoid these issues if you follow a few simple steps.
Where are the issues?
When it comes to marketing legalities, it’s all in the data.
The big factor to take away from the GDPR is consent. This is the buzzword of the industry, as the legislation places the control of data with the consumer. For example, if you are sending direct mail marketing to consumers without their consent, you could face penalties. As mentioned above, companies such as Facebook have faced serious retribution for their lack of security when handling data. According to the 2017 Data Threat Report, more than 70% of consumers believe their consumer data has been made available for cyber criminals, so there’s a significant lack of trust for brands today.
Collecting accurate data is crucial to your marketing campaign. Without the correct data, you are essentially throwing your direct mailing into the air and hoping someone catches it. The GDPR states companies must ask for permission to collect user data, and expressly communicate why and how they will use the information. While that may seem to spell impending doom, it doesn’t. With the consent to use data, you are targeting prospects most definitely interested in your products and services. The transparency of communication could also encourage them to share your company name, and recommend your brand to anyone else in need in that particular field.
Distribution of Data
The distribution of data legalities opens up a can of worms. For example, individual countries have rules as to when you can deliver direct mail. Like that of telemarketing, it’s a grey area for marketing and the likes of stickers, such as ‘do not call’ or ‘do not knock’ must be obeyed. Similarly, you cannot simply pass on consumer information without informing the customer about your plans to do so prior.
The GDPR has also brought the ‘right to be forgotten’ into effect. When producing your marketing campaign, you must not deliver to those who have asked to be removed from your database. If your customer states they wish to be removed, you must do so immediately. You should also keep your database clean and accurate, regularly updated and not keep personal information for longer than absolutely necessary.
This one goes without saying, but do not mislead your consumers. This can refer to the quality of your products, the availability of your services or fine print contradicting the direct mail marketing. Doing so is illegal and many companies, including the likes of Specsavers, have been found liable for misleading claims in the past.
How to avoid these problems?
It’s worth noting that regulations can and will change, but your marketers should be aware. As a general rule of thumb, you can follow these guidelines to ensure your mailing campaigns meet these standards.
Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer
If you are unsure whether your marketing campaign meets the standards set out, there’s only one thing you can do – become the consumer. Read your mailing and ask whether you understand the message. Is it clear enough? Does the fine print reinforce the message? Are the claims true? Are you targeting the correct people?
Make legalities a priority
The legalities should never be an afterthought, but a priority during the critical ideas stages. Read up on the legalities and ensure you have the correct consumer data. You could also read up on previous failures from companies to ensure you don’t repeat those same mistakes.
As part of the GDPR, you must provide an audit trail for collecting, using and retaining consumer data. In turn, this will build on the relationship with brand and consumer, subsequently boosting your profile.
Ultimately, marketing compliance will spell the difference between success and failure for your direct mailing.