An important piece of news for database and direct marketers to be aware of this month: in Germany, the new data protection legislation, in effect since 2009, is now in force. The grace period allowing companies to update their CRM is over.
Is your company ready for the stricter German data protection laws?
I have discussed the changes with business contacts in Germany whose bread and butter are direct and telemarketing. We agree that for B2B companies, the best way forward is to continue communication with the established customer base, where permission already has been given, via the established and trusted channels. The key is to make an opt-out as easy as possible, but at the same time as undesirable as possible. In other words,
- be relevant
- be interesting
- be topical
- be timely
- ADD VALUE!
This is nothing new, but it is worth being repeated. Stay on message, talk about your product news, upcoming events, special offers. Then offer more. Share market insights or a calendar of events in your industry, for example. Be interesting through your email writing style. A dose of humour would not go amiss every now and again.
How to handle new leads in the database under the stricter legislation? If your company hasn’t done so in the past three years, now is the time to consider updates to registration forms, online contact forms and other inbound lead capture forms. Do they contain a clear opt-in to email, telephone, postal communication? Adding a “communication dashboard” that allows contacts to opt-out with one click and that also gives the option to change their preferred method of contact may be a good way of managing changes. Integration with your database (automated or manually, needs must!) is of course absolutely vital.
In summary, if you make inbound communication as easy as outbound, if what you have to say is relevant and well-packaged, and if your database is in sync with your direct marketing updates, you are well prepared for the requirements of German data protection laws.