Permission Marketing & GDPR

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Permission marketing (or permission based marketing) is no longer a choice. But, every marketer should embrace this change and see it as an opportunity.

The need for consent (under GDPR) lets people choose who can market to them.

And this is a GOOD THING.

Yes, really! Let me explain…

What is permission marketing?

Seth Godin wrote on his blog:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

Or in others words…

Permission marketing is when someone decides what marketing they want to receive.

This includes WHO they want to hear from and WHAT they want to hear about.

It should be every marketers dream and yet it has many businesses running scared.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations)

GDPR is the biggest shake up of data protection law in 20 years and becomes law on 25 May 2018. With the changes in technology over the last two decades it is long overdue.

But GDPR is not the only law you need to be aware of.

All marketers must also follow the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). This is also due an overhaul and the ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) will replace it.

So what are PECR and ePR?

They give the rules for sending electronic marketing and advertising messages. This includes telephone, fax, email, text messages, picture messages and video messages.

Instead of going through these laws in detail, let me summarise one VERY important point.

From 25 May 2018 you need permission for the electronic marketing activities you do.

That means if you want to phone people, send them text messages or email them, you MUST have their consent to do so.

This applies to marketing communications.

But I need personal information to run my business…

What if a person buys something from you and you need to use their personal information to fulfil the order? Do you still need permission?

The short answer is no. As long as you only use the information to take payment and deliver the order. You may also need keep records of this transaction.

Why? Because you cannot fulfil your obligations without collecting and using their personal information.

But… you CANNOT use this information to market to them.

If you want to market you must ask for EXPLICIT permission to do so.

Also, be aware that you may still need permission if:

  • you are collecting sensitive information;
  • you intend to use the information in an unexpected or objectionable way;
  • you will share the information with another organisation in an unexpected way; or
  • there will be a significant effect on the individual by either providing, or failing to provide, their information.

Why the best marketers LOVE permission marketing

Permission marketing is a GOOD THING that the best marketers embrace.

Why? Because people only give permission for stuff they actually want to receive.

That means those people have qualified themselves as interested.

What would you prefer to have on your database, interested people or random members of the public?

People are more than happy to pay for stuff that solves their problems, but nobody likes being sold to.

Remember this always and then look for the people you can actually help. The people that need (and ideally want) your help.

Build a community around your business. A tribe of liked minded people who want to be there. Create a sense of belonging. It is easy to get permission when you find the right people.

Want a cup of tea?

Have you seen the Thames Valley Police video ‘Consent: It’s simple as Tea’?

The video uses the metaphor of making a cup of tea to explain sexual consent.

The narrator says:

“If you say ‘Hey, would you like a cup of tea?’ and they’re like, ‘Uh, you know, I’m not really sure,’ then you can make them a cup of tea, or not, but be aware that that they might not drink it.

And if they don’t drink it, then—and this is the important bit—don’t make them drink it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to watch them drink it. And if they say, ‘No, thank you’, then don’t make them tea. At all.”

Marketers can learn a lot from this video too.

Just because someone gives you permission to contact them, it doesn’t mean they want to buy your stuff.

And if they give permission once, it doesn’t mean you have permission forever.

Permission marketing is a privilege

Permission is a privilege NOT a right. You have to earn permission. You also have to accept that someone can change their mind and withdraw permission too.

In fact, don’t only accept it, EMBRACE IT.

Let go of people who no longer fit your community and focus on helping the people who DO want to hear from you.

Serve those people to the best of your ability.