GDPR Innovation (Necessity is the Mother of Consent!)

“Necessity is the mother of invention” is an English-language proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need” [wikipedia]

We have definitely seen this in action as May 25th gets ever-closer. While some marketers are grudgingly moving toward GDPR compliance, others are thinking more creatively about how to align with the new legal requirements—achieving compliance, but without looking like an extract from a legal textbook.

In this article, I’ll take you through a few of my favorite recent examples.

Double Opt-in/Specific Choice Opt-in
There has been a lot of focus on the new consent requirements: unbundled; granular; explicit; named 3rd parties; positive opt-in; and easy to revoke. There is also this additional obligation for data controllers:

Keep evidence of consent – who, when, how, and what you told people

For this reason, many email programs are now moving to double opt-in, with the “click to activate” requirement providing the required proof of consent. However, this action is often not completed, meaning lost subscribers.

An alternative approach we are now seeing more of is to require a positive action to opt-in or to opt-out, as with this Sainsbury’s example:

The rationale is that humans are naturally lazy. Presented with a choice where the default action is to do nothing (i.e. an unchecked consent box) they are more likely to do just that! Forcing an action (“Yes please” or “No thanks”) and then using some nudge theory to advocate for the positive option (coupons/offers/information) increases the likelihood of getting positive opt-ins. Read Holistic Marketing’s excellent article for some deeper insights into this approach.

Education (Lloyds Bank)
Lloyds Bank has taken the opportunity to educate customers about GDPR and presents the new laws as something positive that they will benefit from.

There is also a plain-English FAQ they can reference to learn more about GDPR:

Lloyds Bank customers have clearly been appreciative—since this education program began, read rates of their notification emails (“New statement available” etc.) have increased by 1/5 while deleted before reading rates have halved!

Privacy Policy: The Movie! (easyJet)
GDPR is also challenging data controllers to be clear and concise—there is an expectation to specify why the personal data is needed, using clear, plain language that is easy to understand. For this reason, several programs are now presenting their privacy policies in video form!

How we use your data to keep your flights safe, easy and affordable

In this example from easyJet (click here to see the video) the information is presented in the form of a pre-flight safety briefing, and customers are re-assured their data will only be shared for purposes of their safety, or to deliver a service purchased from easyJet or its partners.

Humour & Animation (Jack Wills)
Most brands use a specific tone of voice to communicate with customers, and in many cases, this will be light-hearted or even tongue-in-cheek. Although GDPR is a serious topic, it doesn’t mean senders suddenly need to get heavy and somber—their messages can still be conveyed in a way their subscribers are expecting.

In this great example from Jack Wills, subscribers were notified about their privacy policy updates in a Valentine’s Day email that celebrated the “true romance” between sender and subscribers (the “click me” CTA was an animated GIF, where the heart was actually beating!).

Incentivisation (Brewdog)
GDPR is clear that consent must be freely given, and data controllers should avoid making consent a precondition of a service. However, this doesn’t rule out using incentives and the ICO’s GDPR consent guidance has the following to say:

There will usually be some benefit to consenting to processing. For example, if joining the retailer’s loyalty scheme comes with access to money-off vouchers, there is clearly some incentive to consent to marketing. The fact that this benefit is unavailable to those who don’t sign up does not amount to a detriment for refusal. However, you must be careful not to cross the line and unfairly penalize those who refuse consent.

Manchester United’s “Stay United” campaign offers subscribers the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip for two to see their team on tour in the United States. However, my personal favorite is Brewdog, which has come up with the following startling offer (there is also a video – see

In exchange for:

This promotion has been spectacularly successful for Brewdog. Despite the stricter consent requirements they have achieved quarter-on-quarter list growth of almost 10 percent, while simultaneously increasing Read rates (up by 1/10) and reducing spam filtering rates (down by 1/3)!

In a recent article for Data IQ David Reed correctly asserted “GDPR is the perfect opportunity for businesses to rethink their approach to data and the enhanced customer relationships and experiences it allows.” The examples we have looked at show he is 100 percent correct—brands who are using GDPR as an opportunity to innovate are clearly benefitting from stronger relationships with their customers, who are now more engaged with their marketing programs as a direct result.

To learn more about GDPR, check out the GDPR category on our blog or download our recent on-demand webinar: The Path to GDPR.

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