Interview with digital marketing strategist Jenna Tiffany

Jenna Tiffany, Founder & Strategy Director at Let’sTalk Strategy.

We know Jenna from the DMA Email Council which she is a member of and were really pleased to see her speaking at the ExecLN GDPR and ePrivacy event we attended earlier this month. Her talk entitled “Email Marketing in a Post-GDPR World” was full of practical tips and learnings about the do’s and don’ts of email marketing following the GDPR regulation. They were too good to keep to ourselves but luckily she’s agreed to share some with us here so read on and be inspired!

What are the main things marketers should be aware of with email marketing post-GDPR?

It doesn’t end after 25th May it is only the beginning, and we as marketers still have more to do to be transparent with customers about how their data is collected, stored and processed.

Marketing now in a post-GDPR world is where the consumer has all of the control. There are still brands getting this wrong even today nearing the end of 2018, more than six months after GDPR became legislation.

I was only shopping with a brand online the other day who are still using an opt-out sign up to their email marketing during the booking process. Because many organisations rushed the approach, take the opportunity now to review and re-review your sign-up process. Go through and test the process of a customer requesting information that you hold about them and how it is being used. This should be tested as much as your fire alarm is tested, don’t just assume consumers will not ask for this information because they will and are entitled to do so.

The increasing scrutiny from consumers is only going to get worse, especially with more and more high profile data breaches which we will see more and more of.

Our inboxes were pretty hectic with copy-cat opt-in emails the week GDPR came into play, what can we learn from last May?

There are many things to learn from that last minute approach taken by some brands as I shared at the ExecLN conference in Reading in November and those are:
Jenna Tiffany speaking at ExecLN conference

Tip 1 – Build processes in place to cope and manage change.

There are two schools of thought on this, because ultimately if email marketing best practice was adhered to before GDPR was enforced, GDPR didn’t change anything. However, it’s when there were muddy waters in the way of how data was being collected, stored and processed that GDPR enforced a change to processes.

There was a two-year window of opportunity for marketers to start the conversation with customers, to start the discussion about what will be changing ahead of the 25th May 2018 deadline. Instead, the majority of marketers and organisations left it until the panic had set in to create a campaign – we all know that creating a campaign under panic is never going to turn out well!

Critical steps to managing change:
1. Think of it like a marketing plan
2. Situation analysis – what is going on?
3. Market goals – what do we want to achieve?
4. Marketing strategy – how can we get there?
5. Budget and plans – what will it cost and what’s the timing?
6. Metrics & adjust – how are we doing? What needs to change?

Also, don’t forget marketing principles such as the hallmarks of an effective marketing plan that doesn’t solely focus on the corporate resources, but also matches customer needs, has a well-blended approach that in turn creates a competitive advantage.

Tip 2 – It’s not about you it’s about the customer.

This is where I see the most significant challenge because marketers need a mindset change. The way data has been accepted and handled is wrong. As a scenario let’s say you ask your neighbour if you can borrow their lawnmower, they are trusting you to give it back and that you’re going to respect and be careful with it. Your neighbour will also be expecting you to take care of it and not break it and if you do you will pay for the repairs to bring it back in the same condition it was lent. Moreover, if you don’t look after it, they won’t let you borrow it again. They have trusted you. Data is also borrowed when a consumer provides it to an organisation. As marketers we don’t own it, it has been given in the faith that it will be looked after, respected and given back when requested. This is the whole focus of the GDPR, to build trust.

What opportunities has GDPR brought about for email marketing?

GDPR has given marketers an opportunity to build trust with the consumer and it’s up to the organisation to make the most of this benefit. It has given us a chance to think about the information a customer wants to receive, not only focusing on what we want to send. If the value is portrayed to the customers, then there is an opportunity to gather more data and segment more carefully. The majority of email databases have been cleansed and if a brand did send a reconsent campaign, then those subscribers that consent are of better quality.

The ePrivacy regulation is still under discussion and maybe a couple of years away, how can we prepare for it?

I’ve spoken at hundreds of events this year, and it continues to astonish me that when I ask the room of attendees if they have heard of GDPR, everyone puts their hand up. If I ask the same question about PECR (The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) and ePrivacy Directive or otherwise known as the ‘cookie law’ less than a handful put their hands up. PECR is a regulation that is already in effect, and many brands broke the rules of this particular legislation when trying to comply with GDPR. The ePrivacy Regulation will replace the current ePrivacy Directive. It is currently uncertain when this will be decided and if there will be a transition period to comply similar to the GDPR.

The first starting point is to ensure that you fully understand PECR because this regulation dictates the communications you can send, and it has been in place since 2003. Secondly, make sure that you have a process for handling change in your organisation. This shouldn’t be left to one team member to make sure everyone complies; it should be across the organisation. Stay alert and informed as to the details of what may be changing continues to be discussed. However, most of all don’t ignore it and think it won’t affect you. Because if we’ve learnt anything from the GDPR, it’s that many brands were unprepared and for some, it has cost them their email marketing database.

Find out more about Jenna and her work at Let’sTalk Strategy.

Interview with digital marketing strategist Jenna Tiffany 1