Author Archives: Sian Brookes

Sian Brookes

About Sian Brookes

Sian Brookes is an Account Manager at multi-channel direct marketing consultancy, ReynoldsBusbyLee. RBL works with corporate and charity clients across all marketing channels. Sian works across digital: multi-channel response handling and outbound for reactivation and up-sell. Sian understands the importance of integration, multi-channel marketing, and has an excellent eye for detail. She was selected to attend the IDM’s fast track course in August 2009 and is an active member on the Email Marketing Events and Communications Hub.

The Draft EU Data Protection Regulations and the Other Compliance Obligations

As our series of blogs on the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation is almost at an end, I think it’s fair to say that they made for very informative reading. I hope you would agree with me that many marketers can learn something from them. A lot of the main topics within the proposal have been covered. But what are the changes to the compliance obligations which organisations need to consider in their day to day activities if the proposal was to be passed in its current version?

Data processing is featured heavily in the proposed Regulation. One of the changes is around notifying the relevant national data protection authority, in the case of the UK the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), of your organisation’s data processing activities. Currently, providing such notification to the ICO has been a matter of course, whereas the proposal states that full records of data processing activities must be kept by the organisation and only supplied to the relevant national data protection authority on request.

The use of data in many organisations is crucial for marketing purposes, as well as general interaction with customers. If you work client-side, just think of the number of email campaigns your organisation sends out to your customers, whether the customers are active, prospective, lapsed or otherwise. Your data would have had to be processed in some way before emailing, whether it’s cleaning or segmenting for a targeted campaign; therefore keeping a record each time the data is processed with specific information would add another compliance burden to the activity. The obligation to keep records of processing activities is also extended to agencies where dealing with data is an integral part of running of the organisation, such as list rental and lead generation activities. With this in mind, if you think of your own organisation’s activities as well as the number of organisations involved in a typical data processing chain, then the number of data processing activities that will need to be recorded is overwhelming. The ICO is concerned that there is a danger that organisations will focus on the ‘paperwork’ rather than on actual data protection compliance. The removal of the notification fee, which organisations currently pay to the ICO when they complete the notification form, does raise questions as to how the ICO will be adequately funded to carry out its data protection work effectively.

Another change in the proposal which will have a big impact is the requirement for organisations with 250 or more staff to have a designated independent data protection officer. Even though data is crucial to a lot of organisations, the size, reasons for its use and frequency the data is handled and processed amongst organisations varies. The ICO believes that “a simple head-count criterion for the designation of a data protection officer is not the best approach.” Some low head count organisations may process a large amount of information about a lot of people and are therefore high risk. On the other hand, large head count organisations may carry out relatively small –scale and low risk processing. Read the ICO’s report on the draft regulations here

The additional bureaucratic requirements relating to these proposed new compliance obligations will certainly create extra administrative costs, particularly for smaller organisations. As well as the increased documentation of all data processing activities, consider the revision and issue of new terms and conditions, and the amount of employee guidance and training around these changes.

These new compliance obligations , as well as implementing the right to be forgotten, and explicit consent for data processing will mean that all organisations will have to review their day to day activities.

Take outs from the Email Deliverability Masterclass

The Email Deliverability Review Whitepaper, sponsored by ReturnPath, was launched last month, and what better way to launch it than with a breakfast briefing to give email marketers a taster of what to expect.

Deliverability should not only be considered as an operational issue, but as a communication one too. The DMA Email Marketing Council know how frequently the rules change for email, which is why they felt it was a good time to review the last whitepaper.

Guy Hanson began with some interesting statistics;

  • 87% of marketers feel that email is still a relevant marketing channel
  • 3 out of 5 marketers said they were increasing their use of email within their marketing campaigns
  • 72% of marketers feel email is great for developing loyal and active customers
  • 95% of all email sent is spam

Probably one of the most significant statistics was that global inbox placement is at 75.9%. Meaning 1 out of 4 emails do not get placed into the inbox. Europe makes up for this statistic, with 86% of emails received in the inbox. However 14% of emails not being received is still high, with the UK being one of the highest at 17%.

So why do emails get blocked? –

    1. Complaints (especially if all the seubscriber really wants to do is unsubscribe, but can’t find the unsubscribe button on your email)
    2. List hygiene
    3. Infrastructure
    4. IP Permanence (Chopping and changing IP addresses won’t help)
    5. Message quality
    6. Engagement (this includes both negative and positive engagement)

Another interesting fact was that the majority of blocked emails, 77%, are due to poor sender reputation.

The growth of smartphones users and the use of mobile email have of course become increasingly important. Generally, subscribers may open your email on a mobile device when first received, and if interested in the content would then follow up with a more detailed browse at their computer. Interestingly, in an Apple dominated market, sales of Android phones have increased and taking some of Apples share. So when thinking about optimising your campaigns for mobiles, it’s important to consider the various different mobile platforms on the market. Emails that have not been optimised for mobiles are generally closed or deleted.

As well as negative, it’s good to remember that positive signs of engagement are important to deliverability too, for example taking emails out of the junk mail, marking as ‘not spam’ and not deleting emails. One way to increase your positive engagement is by adding value to your emails. Think of your email as a commodity, like coffee for example. From its original coffee bean all the way to Starbucks, by adding value to the bean you get an experience. Also behavioural measurement is really important, so look at open verses complaint rate.

Guy also looked deeper into read and spam rates within different industry sectors. Industries with the best read rate include Utilities, Telecoms, Finance and Travel. The biggest spam rates were seen within online dating sites. It’s worth pointing out that the larger your campaign is, the read rate is likely to decline and the spam rate is likely to go up, so keep a careful eye on this and make sure you are maintaining a 15% read rate. He also touched on subject lines, suggesting maybe it’s time to cautiously challenge some of the assumptions (for example using FREE in subject lines).

Dale Langley then presented the Pizza Express case study. The real question is once you’ve got your message across (into the inbox), how do you keep them engaged? He recommended your website have as many data collecting points as possible. This way you can interact with your customers as much as possible. New and evolving technology like Smartphones and QR codes can enhance this experience.

In conclusion, the top 10 tips for deliverability success were as follows;

  • Improve date quality
  • Implement authentication
  • Monitor your sender reputation
  • Manage your IP address carefully
  • Practice good list hygiene
  • Use complaint feedback loops
  • Monitor blacklists
  • Reduce spam complaints
  • Conduct pre-broadcast testing
  • Get accredited

If you would like to find out more, download the Email Deliverability Review Whitepaper.

Social Media and Mobile Integration – Making Interactivity even more important

Recent research from TNS revealed the number of mobile web users visiting social networking sites grew from 30% to 46% globally, highlighting that mobile phones are a crucial part of any social media activity, and will continue to do so (click here for press release). Just like Smartphone users ability to access their emails, they don’t have to rely on or be restricted to their home or work computer to access their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account and carrying a mobile in your pocket is a lot easier than carrying a laptop on your daily commute.

Mobiles are making online content even more accessible than ever before. This provides opportunities for such industries such as leisure, travel and tourism, where the target audience are frequently out and about. Hotel companies such as Hilton, Marriot, and Holiday Inn have created a large social media and mobile presence. People can use these social media sites to book rooms, read and post reviews, and interact with other hotel visitors. They can also connect to that brand at any time which fits in to their daily routine and don’t have to be strapped to a computer to do so.

Therefore, if a customer or prospective customer of your brand posts or tweets a question to your social media site it is the same principle them calling your customer service team for advice. Your social media page would be seen as a 24 hours, 7 days a week online customer service channel, even more so with mobile users logging in at different times than usual. Social media should not just be used for brands to promote new products; it is a way for your audience to communicate to your brand too, otherwise known as ‘Interactivity’.

With the amount of company information available on the internet increasing, customers are contacting brands with more complex questions and expecting a quicker response than ever before. So track of all your points of contact, including your social media page. Regularly update and monitor your pages for queries and questions, and respond to them as quickly but efficiently as possible. Interact in a personal and humanised way, so refer to them by their name when answering their questions. Encourage interaction on your profile too. I noticed an example of this on BBC Good Food’s Facebook page encourages people to ‘like’ a post if they found a blog offering seasoning tips useful. On another occasion for their page to reach 30,000 likes, they asked followers to share a post to help them reach the 30,000 mark (the post included cake recipes as a thank you!).

Finally, take advantage of mobile apps. Advertise these on your social media site and allow them to be downloadable. BBC Good Food did this on with their ‘Good Food for Friends’ application, by advertising on their Facebook page and can be downloaded straight from the page. Make use of the opportunities mobiles have to integrate online, including email and social media activity, with offline, so incorporate QR codes and SMS into your campaign to allow a multi-channel approach. This way you will have a great integrated and interactive campaign.