The new EU data protection laws will change the way marketers collect customer data – here are three key things you will need to adjust if you want to remain compliant.

By the end of 2014, the European Union hopes to have overhauled the current data protection directives to cope with the challenges of the modern digital marketing landscape. The new legislation is intended to provide additional protection for individuals, helping them to retain control over sensitive information.

The new directive will be the first major overhaul of the legislation in nearly 25 years. This will therefore be the first time that many digital marketers will have ever had to seriously adjust their customer database marketing processes.

What is changing?

Under the proposed 2015 directive, the rules regarding the actual data being collected and stored are unlikely to change. But how you collect data will need to be amended to meet the new standard.

Opt in for marketing communications as default

Under the 2015 directive marketers will have to obtain explicit opt in permission from customers before they can store personal data. Currently many data collection forms are focused around opting out – encouraging users to deselect a checkbox if they do not want to receive marketing communications.

To further increase the chance of capturing valuable contact data, many of these forms make the opt out option hard to see, or are worded in such a way that many users are unsure whether they are opting in or out. All of these design ‘tricks’ will be forbidden under the new legislation.

Instead marketers will need to work closely with their design teams to rework data capture forms, so that they:

  • Offer a single, clearly worded opt in checkbox.
  • The opt in checkbox is deselected by default.

Following these principles will ensure that all data you collect is compliant with the 2015 legislation.

“Businesses that plan to collect information that will require explicit consent must ensure that, in all their processes, it is very clear what data is being collected and for what purpose. It is important that the consent to collect data and use it for a specific purpose is prominent and not tucked away somewhere in a user agreement.” – David Smith, deputy commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Opt in for marketing data processing as default

The 2015 data protection directive will create a new split between the right to store data and the right to process data. As a result, you will need to obtain a second opt in from customers if you want to leverage their data for additional insights.

Unfortunately many consumers regard data storage and processing as ‘creepy’ regardless of whether the results generated offer them genuine benefits or not. This means that marketers will need to carefully plan how they are to obtain this second, critical opt in to properly maximise the value of their customer database marketing strategy.

“Only 34% of people think that it’s OK for business to keep detailed records of their purchases.”

As with the opt in for marketing communications, the wording on any data collection forms will need to be clear and unambiguous.

New data lists will also need to be compliant

Whether you obtain new customer data yourself, or choose to use the services of a data broker, the responsibility for ensuring that the relevant opt in permissions have been obtained remains yours. Using non-compliant data sets carries a severe penalty – up to 2% of total global turnover in the event of a serious failing.

“0.5 per cent of a company’s global turnover for charging a user for a data request, one per cent if a firm refused to hand over data or failed to correct bad information and two per cent for more serious violations.” – EU data protection rules to allow consumers to demand data deletion.

Staying compliant in the future

To help ensure your new customer data collection routines are compliant with the 2015 data protection directive:

  • Always obtain opt in consent from customers before storing their details.
  • Always obtain opt in consent from customers before processing their data.
  • Make sure requests for consent are clear and unambiguous.
  • Always verify that data brokers have obtained the correct permissions before buying a contact list.

Make sure your data complies with the new laws and get more leads at the same time: The missing link – how data cleansing can get you more, higher quality leads.

Related Topics: Cleansing and analysis