How will GDPR impact your email & Facebook audiences?

With GDPR still dominating conversations amongst our professional network, we picked out some of the more complicated issues that marketers are discussing with us and put them to an expert.

Our GDPR expert Carl Gottlieb works with us to ensure that we're compliant as data processors for our clients. He has appeared on Sky News to talk about data security more than once and has a wealth of experience in this area. We asked him for clarification on some of the more complex questions regarding GDPR and it's impact on the day-to-day practice of a marketer come the 25th May.


Q: How should we contact our current contact lists asking for consent in a way that we aren't left with nobody to contact and the email is engaging? We want to be on the right side of legislation, but our copy needs to be approved from legal and as a result we're seeing a low response rate.


A: Firstly, it is important to consider if your marketing is B2B or B2C. B2B has less restrictions, e.g. generally there is no need to ask for prior consent for email. Focusing on B2C: since GDPR requires a higher standard of consent (e.g. opt-in tickboxes rather than pre-ticked tickboxes) many organisations are finding that their existing marketing consents are valid now (pre-GDPR) but not post-GDPR. Thus they need upgrading (aka “repermissioning”) as soon as possible.


Emailing someone asking to upgrade their consent is perfectly legal. What is not legal is emailing someone with whom you have no consent and asking for consent, since you have no consent to ask them this question (see ICO’s enforcement against Honda’s). To summarise that – you can UPGRADE currently legal consent pre-May. But if you have NO consent currently then you have no consent to upgrade, so cannot email them. Response rates for repermissioning are commonly very low – often around 10% after 3 emails.


The key is to provide valuable content that people want and that creates a Fear of Missing Out if they do not Opt In. Manchester United’s Stay United campaign is a great example of this. See below for an example:




Q: What changes do I need to make with regards to Facebook retargeting and lookalike audiences - should I delete my current audiences?


A: Facebook custom audiences and lookalike audiences are highly problematic if you are uploading email addresses into Facebook without people’s consent. This requires assessment on a case-by-case basis but generally you will need consent from people to give their email address to Facebook. In turn you may need to delete your current audiences.


19TH APRIL UPDATE: This article by Jon Moger goes into the potential approach you might take in uploading lists to Facebook, however on balance it seems the safe option would be to create new audiences from within facebook rather than hang on to old email lists by trying to transfer them.


Q: Can I upload a new list into Facebook from contacts that have opted-in and then re-build lookalike audiences?


A: You will need to ensure that those contacts have consented specifically to having their data shared with Facebook, along with your Privacy Policy clearly stating that you will do this. This is often not the case. General consent for email marketing cannot bundle in the permission to send data to Facebook.


If you'd like to discuss any of the above topics in more detail, please get in contact with us.

We also hold roundtable discussions every month at The Delaunay in Aldwych, there’s no charge and breakfast is on us. If you would like to attend then please send us a message and we'll invite you to the next event.

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