GDPR, four letters designed to strike fear into the hearts of IT and marketing professionals.

What a sorry state we’ve found ourselves in, scrabbling to opt-in data like rats on a sinking ship. It could all have been so different.

In this week’s blog I’ll be waxing lyrical on missed opportunities, the dubious nature of pre-GDPR email capture tactics and some campaigns I’d have liked to have seen beyond the drab “We’ll miss you when you’re gone” emails cluttering my inbox.

What is GDPR?

Well if you don’t know by now take a gander through your inbox, or more likely spam box, you’ll have quite a few emails announcing a change in Data Protection Regulations. In a nutshell the law surrounding how data is captured, processed, used and destroyed is changing. The new law is called GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Essentially the consumer is getting beefed up powers to control their data and the other side of the fence needs to play ball. Or you’ll be fined, a lot.

Why are things like this in the first place?

To answer that I would highlight practices such as:

  • Linkedin email harvesting
  • Facebook group email harvesting
  • Viral competitions with dubious opt-in practices
  • Virtually any “growth hacks” to get email fast

It’s a long list, even those operating above board haven’t been using double opt-in or gaining the correct consent despite knowing of the regulation changes for some time.

What’s the answer?

Sadly it’s not a win for the Brexit camp. The UK is adopting the regulations despite our departure from the EU. Seems like a missed opportunity to me? Liam Fox proudly promoting Britain as the email frontier town where anything goes, consent, opt-ins well they’re just fancy words from back east.

Actually the answer is that we should have been gaining consent a long time ago but that got in the way of quick list building and fast lead gen. So we didn’t and now we’re looking at losing 80-90% of our marketing databases. Which is somewhat of a bummer. There’s a mad scramble going on to get consent, hence the tremendous amount of emails arriving in inboxes daily. After the 25th May businesses in the EU or emailing EU citizens must comply with the legislation or risk a fine.

*I am not a lawyer, so don’t take anything I say about GDPR  as gospel. Speak to your lawyer if you have questions, he’ll probably have been asked thousands of times and will roll off what you need to do, whilst searching the web for a new boat that all the fees will be netting him!

Hold on isn’t there a way round this?

Well it’s a tricky one. In the office we speculated about contacting Julian Assange to see if he fancied setting up an email provider from inside the Ecadorian embassy, in the hope that we could claim asylum for the data on the grounds that it wouldn’t receive a fair trial, because quite frankly we didn’t have a clue where it had come from.

We’re creative marketing people, why so many bland campaigns?

Weatherspoons seemed to get more exposure announcing they were deleting all their customer data. I think they may have secretly sold it to Ukip!*

*Pure speculation designed for limited comic effect.

For the rest it seems that to the letter everyone has played on the, look at all the cool stuff we send out you’ll miss us band wagon. I’d have liked to have seen something a little more creative, how about:


Do you believe in a better future


We’ve got your email address. We think you opted-in to something but it all honesty we aren’t that sure. Anyhoo, let’s not dwell on such boring symantics. Assuming you have a legitimate interest in {Insert something here] then we’d like to keep sending you stuff in the hope one day you might buy something. When that day comes we will rejoice and we will remind you of this moment and how things could have been so different.

So if you believe there’s a better future click here:

Button: I believe

Or how about:


Get your [Insert cuddly animal here] soft toy Free


If you opt-in to our list you’l get a soft toy. If you don’t it means you hate animals.

Button 1: Claim Soft Toy

Button 2: I hate animals

Or a topical one


It’s down to you


The data we hold is being processed in North Korea. We have been given a directive by Kim himself. He has told us to use two buttons to get your consent. A red button and a green button. Green opts you in, red, well red is Kim’s red button, press it at your peril.

You get the picture!!

What will a post May 25th world look like?

Exactly the same as it did before so let’s not panic too much. Response rates on most email lists are crap anyway. Opt people in properly, update your privacy and focus on building a truly engaged list of people who want your content. If that’s proving tricky make better content. If you struggle to do that it’s unlikely you really understand your brand and your customers, go back to basics look at your brand, does your message and personality actually engage the market you are communicating with, does it meet a need, are you talking to the right market?

I think the biggest thing that will come out of GDPR is a need to focus on marketing basics, brand building, understanding the customer and moving beyond tactical channel hacks.

Surely that’s a good thing?

I’ve been silent for a while but no more, keep your eyes open for more ranting from the self styled “Mark Ritson for the digital Age”. Or sign-up for the DVO newsletter and other relevantish communication, we don’t send it often but when we do. Well, you’ll see!

(Notice the nice checkbox asking for consent on the form on this page, GDPR win!!)

DVO agency does not condone anything written by Ben Dickens in this blog, in fact we actively discourage him from writing it, but hey, he knows the passwords.

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