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New data protection laws: how to ensure you are compliant

New data protection laws: how to ensure you are compliant
February 9, 2017 Leah Bradley

New data protection laws mean that businesses must ensure their databases are compliant if they are to avoid a hefty fine, as Simon McNidder from Database First Aid explains.

Do you hold personal details about your clients, prospective clients and contacts? The likely answer is ‘yes’, even if it’s not stored in a formal CRM database.

Personal data, roughly speaking, is anything that allows a person to be identified. That’s a person’s name, address and email. If you hold these details, either in your CRM database, on Excel spreadsheets, in your Outlook contacts or even in Word docs, there’s no getting away from the new data protection laws – basically anything that stores data is classed as a data-base.

What is happening with the law?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is replacing the EU Data Protection Directive (which the Data Protection Act 1988 in the UK is based on) and will apply to any organisation holding or using personal data. The fine for not complying could be 4% of your total turnover, or 20 million Euros.

The regulations come into force in May 2018, but there is no leeway or phasing in period in which to ensure your databases are compliant – once the news laws are in place you could face a fine on hour one of day one for non-compliance.

So, what can you do?

It may seem like you’ve got plenty of time to get your databases in check, but don’t be fooled into thinking there is a quick fix. You’ll be pleased to hear, however, that the hints below will improve your marketing performance as well as show you are trying to comply with the new data protection laws:

Data you already hold

  • Get all your marketing contact data into one list (from Outlook, excel, databases, etc.)
  • Remove any duplicated contacts and correct any differing details
  • Remove any contacts you are not using. One way of doing this is to see who has never clicked on a single link you have emailed them. Binning them also reduces your database admin burden considerably.
  • Remove any information you do not use e.g. fax numbers, prefixes and middle names if you don’t use them.
  • Check the details of your remaining contacts on a yearly basis. When asking them, also ask what services of yours are they interested in (and their business issues facing them in the next 12 months). That’ll give you some great marketing gold dust to target with. Find out what they are interested in – then give it to them. Rocket science made easy.

Data you want to get hold of

  • If you buy marketing lists, ensure they come from a source where the contacts expected their details to be sold (would YOU be happy if you bought something and they sold your email?)
  • When adding details into your CRM system or other databases, double-check that the contacts are happy for you to do this. Get your staff to ask the question at the point of business card collection. Good practice would then be  to ping your contact an email saying something like “you have been added into our database and we’re just double-checking this is ok with you. Please check the details we have for you and indicate your topics of interest so that you only receive relevant communications from us. You can unsubscribe at any time blah blah blah”.

See, it’s not too hard to get your databases to comply, but help is out there if you need some support. Contact CRM database consultant, Simon McNidder, from Database First Aid Ltd for further information or advice.

About the author:

Simon McNidder, data protectionSimon McNidder has spent over 20 years using, managing and implementing CRM databases in-house, mainly in professional service firms, winning two CRM industry awards during this period. Simon is now a CRM Database Consultant and runs Database First Aid Ltd, fixing CRM databases and marketing data headaches. Typical services range from cleansing data, combining duplicate contacts, merging multiple contact lists into one, or finding CRM solutions for clients. For more CRM tips, visit Simon’s LinkedIn Profile.