Cold emailing is an important marketing technique that can be a hugely effective way to stimulate the start of your sales pipeline. However, because it's a relatively intimate strategy that targets specific individuals, it's essential to make sure your cold emailing is non-intrusive, ethical, and above all, legal.
When any marketing technique that involves the use of personal data, it's essential to make sure your actions coincide with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. Here are five ways that SMEs can stay GDPR compliant when sending cold emails.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive set of data protection rules implemented by the European Union (EU) on May 25, 2018. The GDPR applies to all organizations that collect, process, or store personal data of EU citizens, regardless of the organization's location.
The regulation is designed to give individuals greater control over their personal data, including how it is collected, used, and shared. It also imposes stricter requirements on organizations that handle personal data, such as obtaining explicit consent, notifying individuals of data breaches, and appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO).
Organizations that fail to comply with GDPR can face significant penalties, including fines of up to 4% of their annual global revenue or €20 million (whichever is greater).
Compliance with GDPR requires organizations to take a number of steps, including:
Organizations should also consider seeking legal advice and guidance from data protection experts to ensure that they comply with GDPR requirements.
If you are conducting email marketing to business or individuals located in the EU, it is important to comply with GDPR regulations.
Here is a general list on the data that is included in the GDPR requirement:
ii) Phone numbers
iii) Email addresses
iv) Mobile device IDs
v) IP addresses
This means obtaining explicit consent from individuals before collecting and processing their personal data, such as their name and email address, for marketing purposes. You must also provide individuals with the option to unsubscribe or opt-out of receiving further marketing emails at any time.
In addition to obtaining consent and providing opt-out options, you must also ensure that any personal data you collect is stored and processed securely, and that individuals have the right to access, correct, and delete their personal data.
When carrying out B2B cold email campaigns, personal data is going to be at the core of every campaign.
While GDPR doesn't restrict organisations from prospecting and collecting leads, it does require these activities to be done with a high degree of care and accuracy that guarantees the personal data is relevant to the purpose of prospecting, and doesn't over-reach past the data types that are needed.
Whenever you're collecting personal data through any channel, make sure you're only harvesting the minimum amount of data that you need to achieve your stated aims, and that the type of data you're collecting is clearly relevant to what you're trying to do.
While you're auditing your data collection methods through this lens, it may be worth scheduling a review of the data you already have, and whether or not its relevance and adequacy coincides with your aims. In the words of leading sales software provider Sopro, "Most businesses are surprised by the amount of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) stored within their systems, often without any specific intent or purpose."
On the subject of checking your cold email campaigns have demonstrable relevancy to your aims, it's essential to make sure any proposal or pitch you make via cold email has a direct relation to the specifics of your leads' businesses.
For example, if you're contacting a business that's using a competitors' product, you might want to create a template that pitches your own product as a better alternative, with variable fields for copy that will outline how it can help them achieve aims that are tied specifically to their business model.
If your email templates lack nuance, and you use them to email-bomb any lead that could feasibly find a use for what you're selling, it will be much harder to demonstrate that the data you've collected is relevant to the aims of your business.
Aside from helping you stay GDPR compliant, using personalised templates in your campaigns will also help you increase engagement and improve your brand equity by improving your customers' experience from the first point of contact. Everybody wins!
In the wake of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, the average person is much more careful about the kinds of personal data they share, and concerned with the way that they're being used.
With everyone in a higher state of alert around their data, misunderstandings about how data is acquired and used are unfortunately commonplace. If your campaign garners responses from people who are under the impression that you're doing something against GDPR, you need to be prepared with detailed, helpful responses to their queries.
Questions like 'How have you acquired my information?' 'What right do you have to contact me?' and 'How much data do you have on me?' will all require responses that absolve you of any wrongdoing, and show that you care about your contacts' privacy.
Even if your campaigns are 100% GDPR compliant, answering these questions poorly can tarnish your brand in the eyes of your leads. Make sure you're carrying out adequate research around your campaigns' GDPR compliance, and preparing your reps with comprehensive responses.
The Federation for Small Businesses has a summary of the rights of individuals guaranteed by GDPR, which might be a helpful starting point for you to draft these response templates.
One of the central aspects of GDPR is protecting an individual's right to erasure, which guarantees that organisations will erase someone's personal data when requested.
When you're running a cold email campaign, you need to advise people on how they can opt out of your emails, and make this process as straightforward as possible.
One of the most common ways to do this is to add a simple "unsubscribe" link to the footer of all email templates used in your campaigns, but taking things a step further could be a great way to offset the sense of exposure and intrusiveness that some recipients will feel when receiving your emails.
Something as simple as a graphical header saying "We Value your Privacy" followed by a short piece of copy that spells out how leads can unsubscribe will not only make your GDPR compliance explicit, but will also help to frame your brand as one that cares about the privacy and comfort of their customers.
GDPR rules also stipulate that you cannot hold onto personal information for an unnecessarily long period of time, or keep inaccurate contact information.
If you know you've been slacking, plan and execute a thorough GDPR audit of your CRM database, and make sure you're including all data sources, locations, and types to ensure you're not holding onto anything that could compromise your compliance.
After this cleanse, set a schedule for auditing your database at regular intervals, and purging any information that's been kept for longer than necessary, as well as anything that doesn't have a clear relevance to your marketing aims.
It's also important to develop a data standardisation policy which spells out how data should be entered into your CRM, and any red flags that staff should be aware of when developing your database.
GDPR compliance is an ongoing process, and while these kinds of policies won't absolve you from responsibility, it will reduce the risk of any breaches in the future.
We hope these pointers have helped you avoid common data privacy pitfalls, and given you peace of mind as you navigate GDPR compliance.
GDPR can be a headache for marketers, but by optimising your current processes and adopting new ones, you'll be able to keep every cold email campaign effective, ethical, and legal.
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