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Due to potential changes to both British and European legislation, regarding the collection and use of marketing data, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share some data handling best practice. After all the media scrutiny it is especially important for charities to make sure that their data practices can stand up to legislation.

Changes to the law have not yet been enforced and are still in the discussion stages so it’s hard to know what will come to fruition (more details will be available in 2016). The general message now is that they will, eventually, have a wide ranging effect on the way in which both charities and businesses deal with personal data.

­How should I be collecting data?

Contact data refers to all the information you hold about someone, whether it’s their interests or their card details. It’s important, therefore, to ensure you treat that data properly.

In addition, you also want to make sure those receiving your email campaigns actually want them, as this gives you a better idea of your audience size, the ‘true’ level of engagement your campaigns achieve and it can also reduce your potential unsubscribes and complaints.

Both of these can be realised by using explicit consent. This is the act of giving an individual a clear option to agree or disagree with the collection and use of the data they provide. You can do this in MessageFocus with our Form Builder, using radio buttons or checkboxes so the individual can confirm they are happy for their data to be collected and used.

Explicit consent means you know that those who receive your publications are interested in what you have to say. The benefits of this can include higher engagement rates, reporting that truly represents your audience and can help you create better content as you tailor it to your consumers.

How can you use explicit consent to your advantage?

Consumers will sometimes get to a point where they no longer want to receive your publications. There are many reasons for this but it doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship with that individual.

Unsubscribe buttons have been a legal requirement for some years now and will automatically supress a contact from receiving future communications. However, you could also send a contact to a Preference Centre, a prefilled form, where you can present them with more options than simply unsubscribing from everything, including directing them to you social media channels.

A Preference Centre is a great way of trying to re-engage your customer by showing them what else you have to offer, it also gives you another opportunity to validate the consent they provide.

Proof of Consent

Being able to prove that an individual gave consent is also useful, as it allows you to validate your contact data in line with the data protection laws. Not only that but it also opens a line of dialogue with a contact, should you receive complaints.

You can do this by looking at specific actions and customer behaviours; for example, “consent has been given, as only those who selected this checkbox on a form were added to this specific automation program”.

Key takeaway

With the possible changes to EU and British Data Regulations, filtering through from next year, explicit consent could play a very important role in your data collection. Knowing when someone signed up and what they signed up for will mean you can stand up to changing legislation by showing your data is authorised for use.

It is also worth noting that the benefits of using data handling best practices show it’s worth adopting them regardless of when the new legislation takes effect. This helps you streamline your contact data to only those who want to receive your publications – which in turn can positively affect your reporting and engagement rates. It’s a win-win.