GDPR News

GDPR 'fatigue' and the balance of data power

May 2018

In the past weeks, many of my colleagues – and myself – have received emails from companies and brands we’re signed up with, asking for our attention.

These emails (mostly) are related to GDPR – which if you haven’t heard of by now, I won’t repeat what it is here.

However, what does bear repeating is that many of these brands need your consent. They need YOU to give them permission to carry on, business as usual.

This is a major shift in power, and one that GDPR was clearly intended to implement.

But it also occurs to me that I’ve read all of them but even with the ones asking for me to act in some small way, I haven’t clicked a finger.

That’s because with all of these emails comes the risk of something else; GDPR fatigue.

The emails I’ve seen fall into several clearly defined categories, designed in light of both what data that brand has (and how it was obtained) and what they need to legally do to carry on.

The first are emails from brands simply telling you that they are compliant. They tell you about their new Privacy Policy. They may well link to it, but in most cases they tick the box of telling you who they are, what they do with your data, where you can read more info and provided assurance in their brand tone that all is well. You can sleep easy knowing they have your (data’s) back.

The second are emails where the brand may have your marketing consent now, but for some reason it doesn’t fulfil the stricter rules for consent under GDPR. Therefore, as well as doing all of the above, they want you to take an action.

In most cases, these emails are very smartly worded, conscious to balance weighty legal obligation in funky brand TOV and also aware you have little or no engagement time to do much apart from make one click.

Even WITH the latter however, there are so many emails now asking me to act, or read, or consider what they do and don’t do with my data – that I find myself not acting on any.

Cutting through this will take a strong and clear call to act. Brands that started earlier may well also avoid this – one major Premier League football team started in late 2017 with their message!

At bigdog, we’ve been working with our clients to prepare them for GDPR for over a year, and many started their comms on it early. Many we are still working with towards best-in-market practice, tone and engagement.

However, the one thing we are clear on is that, come 26th May, the day after – the sky will not have fallen. A smaller mailing list is not a bad thing; on the contrary the accepted wisdom is that this smaller audience will be more engaged.

There are real opportunities on the horizon; as everyone – you and I included – comes to understand that our data is actually under our control if we choose to take the reins, then a real shift of power will evolve.

Many consumers are simply allowing their non-response to be a passive act of cleansing, allowing their consent to lapse in order to have a tidier more focused inbox. The flipside is that many brands have old data and this is the perfect time for them to cleanse also.

There are of course some brands which simply don’t allow you to carry on using them if you don’t accept, Facebook and other social networks for example – as without your consent for them to use your data – their service offering is zero.

And there’s one more example of a comms strategy, the one where the brand says ‘we’re not bothering with this, we’ll delete our full list and startover’ – even ending the comms with the phrase’ the newsletter is dead, long live the newsletter’.

A clearing of the decks then? Certainly going forward, the data subject is their own brand, their own data controller – and GDPR fatigue may likely prove to be short lived, transformative and full of potential for everyone.

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