Five reactions to GDPR consent (and how to have the right one)

Companies are having different reactions to GDPR. Your attitude as it comes into effect could shape the way your business works for years to come.

1. Do nothing

Some people might want to do nothing. They’ll want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. They might get away with it. For a while. But then someone will catch on. The result? Fines of up to €20m, or 4% of global turnover (whichever is higher). Then there’s the repetitional damage. Negative press coverage. Customers leaving for a supplier who gives a damn about their data. This isn’t a viable option for any company that’s serious about long-term brand building.

2. Stop contacting their customers

Some telcos may decide to write off their database entirely. They aren’t trying to get opt in, they’re simply removing people from all marketing communications. They know it’s a big price to pay, but at least they know they’ll be fully compliant with GDPR. And once they are, they can start rebuilding the list. But it’s an overreaction. Instead of deleting a huge amount of valuable data, they could be getting the opt-ins that let them keep in touch. It’s a great opportunity for the telcos they’re competing with (more on that later).

3. Use the right to inform existing customers

Some brands will take the easy way out by contacting their existing customers to explain what GDPR is, but without collecting consent. The idea is they will continue to contact their customers, but only about the products or services they’re already using. More transactional, functional communications, without the marketing. On the one hand it’s less hassle. But on the other they’re burning their bridges when it comes to cross-selling, up-selling, retention and win-back campaigns. It will only fuel the most fundamental problem telcos face – that customer churn rate. A whole host of potential sales written off to make life easier in the short term. That’s not a great strategy.

4. Use the old routes to get consent

For those that do decide to get consent, in the rush to get in touch, many will fall back on what they know best. They’ll use their usual communication channels and hope for the best. The problem with using the usual channels is that GDPR is an unusual request.

  • Direct mail requires them to read it and head online to act on it.
  • Phone calls cost a lot to organise for thousands of contacts (and don’t actually provide a physical proof of consent).
  • Text messages asking them to confirm their details can feel like a scam without the correct introduction.
  • And email? Well, research shows that telecommunication emails only have open rates of around 21.57%. And click-through rates of less than 2.5%. Besides, do you even have email addresses for most of your customers? If not, that’s huge numbers you can’t get in touch with this way.

GDPR is too big to leave to the old ways of doing things. Getting the messages to stand out requires a more clinical approach.

5. Do things the right way

With so many competitors getting GDPR wrong, getting it right becomes a huge opportunity. The last option is to do something different for GDPR. To collect consent in a more effective way than usual. This is a huge opportunity. A better solution would be to collect consent by talking to people the way they want, and when they want. It’s about combining various channels in a logical way to make sure people know what’s coming and what to do. And it’s about getting in touch on the devices they know and trust. It’s not enough to send the same message in multiple ways and hoping one of them gets through, it’s about having the channels support each other, with each playing a different role. It’ll make it as simple as possible for them to opt in. And it’ll offer a fast turnaround time so you can hit the ground running. That’s what one of the largest telco brands did. And they got opt in from 40% of their database in just a week.

We’ve gone into more detail about the right approach in our latest eBook. If you haven’t already read it, take a look and find out what the right way looks like and how you could use it.

Tom Stenius

Chief Product Officer