Things have changed drastically in the online world since General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR was put into effect. This change will affect many aspects of business, but the area that it will impact the most is customer communication.
The regulation took effect on May 25th this year and it has changed many things in the world of business. Companies will have to learn how to adapt to the new situation and work with it, or they will lose a lot of customers. Until now there was no consistency in how individual data was gathered and used. The lack of consistency and structure has made it difficult both for businesses and consumers. This is what GDPR has been designed to address while protecting individuals and their rights.
Some might even say that the reason this is happening right now is the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but the main thing is that it’s here and that it will change many things.
Ever since we entered the global Internet age some 20 years back, the EU has been developing regulations on how organizations can use personal data and it has set many legal standards. Up until now, the EU has made Data Protection Directives which all members of the EU had to comply with.
Countries had to create their own legislation based on EU’s guidelines and provide an infrastructure that would regulate how the personal data of individual citizens was gathered, accessed, and stored by various organizations. However, it had its weaknesses, as every EU state created and implemented their directive differently and one state’s requirements for data protection would not be compliant with the laws in different states. At the same time, organizations which were operating outside the EU didn’t have to comply with the directive.
How GDRP affects businesses
If a business is involved in gathering, managing, or storing the user data of any individual who lives in the EU, then it has to comply with the new GDPR. It no longer matters where a company is located – even if your business is outside of the European Union, you must comply with the new GDPR if you process the data of EU residents in any way.
In the future of SMS marketing, businesses that use personal data to target customers will have to comply with this regulation. Still, it can affect companies in more than a single way and it’s not the same for everyone.
For example, if your business gathers personal data for SMS marketing and then determines the next steps for its use, then your business falls in the “controller” category. On the other hand, if your business handles the personal data and employs SMS marketing practices with it, then it falls into the “processor” category.
Most of the responsibilities are on controller organizations, especially when it comes to securing the said data. Simultaneously, processors also have responsibilities when it comes to how they use the data that was provided to them.
How GDPR protects an individual’s rights
All companies that need to comply with GDPR must make sure that the rights of EU residents are protected online. You might consider it as a bill of rights similar to the one in the US, but only for EU citizens and their personal data. These rights are completely on the side of the individual and if an organization breaks them, it will be held accountable.
Individual rights include:
The right to be informed.
The right to access their personal data.
The right to ask that it be erased.
The right to move any of their data at any time.
The right to objections on how their data is stored and processed.
The right to object to any profiling or automated actions based on their own data.
The right to limit personal data processing.
The right to correct any data errors.
Consent at the core
One of the most essential GDPR components that will greatly protect individual rights, as well as make businesses work more on gathering, processing, and storing individual data properly, first of all, is that every organization now needs to keep information about given consent and use it as evidence in case there are any legal issues.
All consumer consents need to be clear, structured, specific and documented properly while giving individuals the ability to withdraw it quickly. At the same time, you cannot ask for consent from consumers for certain marketing strategies and use it for something different.
For example, you can’t ask for phone numbers just as customer information when they buy something and then send them marketing messages. You will have to clearly explain to your customers that you are asking for their numbers for this purpose.
How does this reflect on customer communication?
Since GDPR was put into effect, all organizations now need to carefully give reasons why they need certain data, justify the legality behind it, and show how the data will be used. In case something goes wrong, companies will be required to provide detailed data logs to show how they followed the law. All customer communication included in marketing strategies need to be considered from a legal stance.
A business needs to be sure that it has the necessary permissions and valid reasons to send SMS messages to certain individuals for a certain purpose, even through casual customer communication. When it comes to the future of SMS marketing, companies will still be able to do what they have done so far, but only after they are sure that all of the data is used properly and in accordance with the individual rights of consumers.
Even if you already have data on customer phone numbers, their location, gender, interests, and so on, you will still have to justify the collection of that data and get permission for further use. Although this regulation will make all kinds of organizations work harder, it will create more safety for consumers and a fairer market where companies cannot abuse data.
As professionals in the SMS marketing industry, our services and actions are already compliant with the new regulations and all companies that want to give reliable services will have to do this as well.