GDPR inertia; three quarters of marketers fail consent test with a year to go

A test conducted by Mailjet has uncovered a significant lack of practical insight into the requirements of GDPR and its consequences for their business.

A test conducted by email service provider Mailjet finds 72 per cent of UK marketers either cannot answer, or incorrectly list the necessary conditions to meet GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements for ‘opt-in’ consent.

With less than a year to go ahead of the 25 May 2018 deadline, only 17 per cent of respondents have taken all of the recommended steps towards GDPR compliance, while the same proportion admit they have not enacted any such checks or changes.

This could well be explained by the fact marketers believe they’re facing a total fine of €5.2 million. In reality, the maximum penalty for noncompliance is €20 million, or 4 per cent of their global revenue.

Areas of confusion

While 64 per cent assume GDPR means they must ensure individuals are able to opt-out easily, 32 per cent of UK marketing professionals believe they will be able to automate processing of location data without ‘opt-in consent’, this rises to 35 per cent in the case of personal preferences data.

Other misconceptions

· More than a third of marketers (34 per cent) incorrectly think individuals over the age of 70 and those who have not been responsive for 90 days are exempt from all automated marketing decisions.

· A third (35 per cent) of marketers wrongly believe the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) will exempt B2B marketers from GDPR.

· Nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents claim businesses that employ over 250 staff must appoint a chief data officer, despite this only being a requirement where data is of a particularly sensitive nature.

· A third (32 per cent) claim the regulatory changes will mean their organisation must guarantee that all marketing recipients are free from imprisonment.

Rachel Aldighieri, managing director at the DMA comments, ‘With just a year left to prepare, and despite high levels of awareness, the number of businesses ready for the new laws is still low. Even more concerning is that we’ve also found in our own research that only half of businesses expect to be ready in time for the May 2018 deadline. Recent announcements and guidance from the ICO has only served to more worries that the interpretation of the new laws will be overly strict. What we need is balanced and fair guidance from the ICO, and we need this urgently if we’re expected to be ready in time.’

First timers

Overall, only 38 per cent of UK marketers have changed procedure for a regulation before. In contrast to in-house marketers, experience is particularly scarce within marketing agencies, where 90 per cent are potentially facing change for the first time.

Only half of marketers state they are aware and compliant with the existing EU Data Protection Directive; this dips to only 41 per cent among in-house marketers. Significantly 23 per cent of marketers are aware their company may not be compliant with existing regulations.

In-house marketers more apprehensive than agency counterparts

Two fifths (42 per cent) of test respondents believe marketing communications will become more relevant to what recipients want to see and the quality of campaigns will improve under GDPR.

However, 13 per cent actually see a negative impact coming from GDPR. Despite the importance of their customers’ interests, sentiment is greater among marketing departments, 20 per cent of whom feel processes will be significantly slowed for compliance and the new regulations will make prospecting much harder.

A quarter (28 per cent) don’t believe there will be any effect as a result of the stricter consent based rules coming into place. This rises to 37 per cent among marketers with decision making authority within their organisation.

Josie Scotchmer, UK marketing manager at Mailjet, concludes, ‘While it’s relieving to hear 48 per cent of marketers have begun reviewing how they seek and record consent, there’s no doubt that GDPR will have a huge impact when it comes into force. For many it’s the first time they have had to respond to international legislation and the scope of work this process entails is only just becoming clear to them.

‘It’s up to every partner in their ecosystem to provide the support, guidance and expertise that will ensure they don’t fall foul of the heavy penalties reserved for any noncompliant businesses. For marketers who think it will negatively impact their marketing efforts, need to put their customers interests ahead of more stringent processes and regulations.’

Further reading on GDPR

Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics