GDPR – The clock is ticking….

GDPR will come into force across the EU on Friday 25th May 2018. This means all businesses must be compliant by that date.  Have you started taking action yet?

From a marketing perspective, the biggest shake up will be around how personal data can be used for marketing purposes, and how that data is stored and protected.

Under the GDPR you’ll only be able to send marketing communications to customers if they’ve opted in to receive them.  It will also be necessary to be able to prove that an individual has done so, by placing the burden on the business.  Individuals will also have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.

There is a lot of discussion around ‘what is the duration’ of consent.  I have done quite a lot of reading around this and I must say that I haven’t found any clear guidelines  However, it does seem to be implied that it does not last forever and should only be for as long as necessary.  At the moment, the ICO’s recommendation is to refresh consent ever 2 years.

It is important that you get into the habit of keeping good records moving forward to prove that an individual/customer has offered their information to you.  It is recommended that you should keep the following info:

  • Who consented
  • When they consented
  • What they were told at the time – what they were consenting to
  • How they consented – for example a copy of the completed data capture form with timestamp
  • If consent has been withdrawn – if so when.

One question that I am frequently asked is – does someone giving a business card at an event constitutes consent? The ICO has published draft guidance and gives the example of people at a conference putting their business cards in a box to take part in a prize draw. By putting their card in the box, they have clearly demonstrated consent to their personal details being used in relation to the prize draw but they have not consented to any wider use such as marketing purposes.

It gets a little confusing when you then look at oral consent which the ICO have highlighted as a valid unambiguous statement.  My take on this is – if you are networking and someone gives you a business card and clearly states that they want to receive your email newsletter, I would write the date, what it is they want to receive e.g. newsletter, the time and the networking event on their business card and keep this on record. I would also recommend that you send them a follow up email and ask them to confirm by opting in via the method you are using.

Key Steps you should be doing now:

  1. Review your current data that is held and understand your current consent provisions. Can you prove you have consent from everyone?  If the answer is ‘no’ then you will not be able to use this data after 25th May 2018.
  2. Start splitting your data by who has consented and who hasn’t
  3. Review your privacy policy and data capture forms to bring them in line with the information that is required to comply with GDPR. You must provide a mechanism that requires a deliberate action to opt in.  You also cannot rely on silence, inactivity, default settings, pre-ticked boxes etc.
  4. Review how you store and manged record information. Are you capturing all the information that you need to provide consent?   Also consider if you are keep unnecessary information!
  5. Decide how long consent should last for your business in terms of marketing communications. Incorporate this in your privacy policy and set in place a system to provide reminders to refresh consent or remove individuals when they lapse.

I hope this information has been helpful. It’s all about process and evidence.  I am working on writing other blog posts that will focus in on key areas such as ways you can gain consent from your existing lists for your future marketing communications.

For reference if is worth keeping an eye on these two websites as things are being constantly updated:

https://www.eugdpr.org/

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr

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Facebook – what the algorithm update will mean to your page.

I am sure by now you will have heard about the big change coming – Facebook is altering the algorithm that runs the news feed. The new goal is to help you “have more meaningful interactions”. Changes are always being made but this one is quite significant in terms of your Facebook marketing strategy.

It is important to remember that Facebook is a ‘social’ media platform.  It is all about people and personal connections.  A lot of businesses have missed the point and think of it just as a vehicle for sales. The problem is we don’t just want to be sold to do we?  Moving forward engagement will be the crucial factor that will determine whether your page’s content deserves to show up in the news feed.

This is your opportunity to show your human side and create content that resonates with your target audience. Hopefully this will mean that in the future time spent on Facebook will be time well spent!

If your strategy up until have been focusing on just generating awareness, perhaps by posting news stories then you need to start thinking about how you are going to change. Remember page posts that result in back and forth conversation will be prioritised so comments become key rather than just likes and shares.

Ways to maintain the success of your page will be:

  • Ask questions
  • Be engaging
  • Post timely relevant topics that users are sure to have an opinion on
  • Tell stories
  • Test different types of content
  • Create more live video (on average they get 6 x more interactions than a regular video)
  • Join Facebook Groups – they already operate based on audience engagement. Decide whether a Group is relevant to your business and set one up.
  • Advertising – It has been obvious over the last year that organic reach of a page post has been declining rapidly and we have been encouraged to boosts posts and create targeted ads to regain lost reach. After all Facebook is a business and they want us to pay to access their audience.

Engagement Bait

Don’t use ‘Engagement bait’ – this is a big No No.  Simply this is asking your audience to comment on a post.  Facebook will know you are doing this and continue to demote these posts as they are not meaningful interaction.

Remember these three key points:

  1. Your focus should be more on quality posts that spark conversations rather than quantity.
  2. If something isn’t working, then change it – use your Insights.
  3. Facebook is not the only social media platform available to you and a successful social media marketing strategy will include other platforms.

 

I hope you found this article useful.  Remember that it will take time for the impact of this update to be seen and things are constantly changing!

For more updates please join me on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/LittleAcornMarketing

How to get started with running a marketing webinar

…..And why you cannot afford not to be running one!

This week I am please to include a guest blog by Virginie Chasseriau from A Cup of Learning.

Everyone loves webinars! They are time-saving, cost-effective and easy to connect to! All you need is an Internet connection and that’s it.

Nowadays, 2,000 million people a month are connected to Facebook, 328 million a month to Twitter, 700 million a month to Instagram and 467 million users on LinkedIn (source: © Statista 2017). How many are your prospects? 20%? 10 %? Even 1%?

# your prospects Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn
20% 400,000,000 65,600,000 140,000,000 93,400,000
10% 200,000,000 32,800,000 70,000,000 46,700,000
1% 20,000,000 3,280,000 7,000,000 4,670,000

Social media have removed all barriers and it’s never been so easy to connect. Today, the power lies with technology. How well do you know it? How well do you use it? Website, emails, marketing campaign are powerful tools to raise awareness about your product or service. But how do you engage the discussion with your prospects? To stand out from the crowd, to be noticed among such a busy environment, a marketing webinar is the mean to use.

A webinar is a seminar over the web. With a webinar, you engage in a conversation with prospects. You give them valuable information and they can react, ask questions and get an answer. A webinar is a cost-effective and time saving mean to engage a conversation with prospects in order to convert them as customers.

Is a webinar for you?

Yes, if:

  • You sell a product or a service
  • You are passionate about your business and you are an inexhaustible source of information
  • You want to grow your business without compromising time with friends and family

No, if:

  • You are too specialized and only targeting a “niche” community (but is it really a narrow local niche?…)
  • You target an older generation not used to technology

Running a marketing webinar is not costly (only a monthly fee for the webinar platform is required) and therefore your product does not have to be expensive to be worth a webinar. With the potential to target thousands of people, there is a multiplicative factor to generate a big return on investment. And it is also the opportunity to develop subscriptions and loyalty programs. As you engage the conversation with your customers, you want to create that special relationship with them.

What do you need to get started?

A little bit of gut and:

  1. An appealing landing page with an easy registration process. 60% of people interested in a webinar give up on the registration page as it is too complicated or too long.
  2. A structured engaging presentation to deliver a crystal-clear message and, at the same time, engage a conversation with participants. Engaging means that participants are physically doing something to eradicate all distractions around them. Distractions that could stop them from listening to you.
  3. A webinar platform: there are several platforms and you should choose yours based on your budget and expectations. And, regardless of your choice, it is important to get familiar with your platform before delivering a live webinar. Technology is not always our best friend so make sure you know:
    1. How to get your microphone on
    2. How to mute the audience
    3. How to use tools such as chat area, video, polls, sharing screen…

If technology is not your thing, or if you do not have time, it may be a clever idea to work with a webinar producer. A webinar producer removes all the hassle before, during and after the webinar, so that you can only focus on what you do best: talking about your product or service, talking about your passion.

Furthermore, a webinar producer will:

  • set-up the platform to fit your needs,
  • introduce the webinar and polls,
  • manage any technical issues (such as if participants cannot hear you, cannot log-in) or manage questions that could be answered without asking the presenter (e.g. When will the recording be made available?),
  • keep participants active.

A webinar will save you time in marketing… really?

Even if webinar platforms are more and more powerful with a broad range of possibilities, there are still a lot of human participation needed to prepare a webinar. You’ll need time to structure your message and build a presentation, to design a landing page, to learn how to use the webinar platform and to rehearse.

But, once this is done, you can deliver your webinar many times over. Since webinars can be recorded, they can be easily integrated to your marketing strategy. And you can still reach people who have registered but haven’t turned up.

Once your webinar is ready, there will be no more preparation, saving you time to spend for what really matters to you: children, husband, spouse, family, friends, your hobby… Everything is allowed!

 

Author: Virginie Chasseriau from A Cup of Learning.

Virginie is an experimented trainer who has worked for 15 years in a Corporate environment. She has extensive experience in delivering webinars and implementing blended learning strategies. With her company, A Cup of Learning, Virginie supports self-employed and small businesses to develop and run engaging marketing webinars that convert.

Like her Facebook page to be kept posted with webinars and training programs.

How to Prepare Your Business For GDPR

As we enter the last 7 months of countdown, more and more businesses are starting to worry about GDPR. At first, it was only the finance and IT industry that were wringing their hands, but soon business owners realised everyone would be affected by the new regulation. By now most business owners worth their salt have heard about the new GDPR. The savvy ones might have even started putting measures in place to get ready for it. But most of those are “big businesses”. You know, the ones who have infinite resources and entire departments dedicated to compliance and regulation. But that leaves the smaller businesses somewhat flustered and unsure of what to do. But never fear, Little Acorn are here to provide some more general guidance on the issue of GDPR.

What Is GDPR?

But first, what is this big bad acronym that has business owners rushing around like ants? GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulations, and it’s essentially the EU’s answer to the Data Protection Act. However, unlike previous EU directives (which countries can choose to implement or not, and how), this is a regulation. This means it will apply to all EU countries in the same way. It also reaches outside of the EU to any organisation that handles EU citizen data, regardless of their location in the world. The regulation is already in place – we are partway through a transition period that allowed businesses to get their house in order before the regulation comes into effect on the 25 of May 2018.

The aim of the regulation is to unify and standardise data protection policies, shoring up weak spots and creating a strong base for personal data protection. The regulation provides a single set of rules for all member states to follow (including mandatory security notifications, new rules around user consent, a clearer definition of what could be personal data and greater rights for people to access and request deletion of the information companies hold on them). A special council will be created to oversee sanctions and provide guidance.

The Brexit Question

I feel I need a small note here. Before you ask, yes, UK businesses will still have to comply even if Brexit goes ahead. Not only will be still be handling EU citizen data (and therefore still subject to GDPR), but the government have also confirmed that they will be passing GDPR into UK law if we do leave. So, no matter what happens, you still need to prepare.

Areas of Your Business Affected by GDPR

The mistake a lot of businesses are making is assuming that GDPR will only really affect the IT department. And while it might be true that IT will certainly be hit hardest, that doesn’t mean the rest of the business is off the hook. In fact, there are 5 key areas of every business that will be impacted by GDPR:

Legal – One of the most important areas to be affected is the legal department (if you have one). There are many different changes that will need to be made to contracts, terms and conditions, policy documents throughout the business to ensure the consent rules are being met. This also means that the legal department will have to review and possible renegotiate contracts to meet this requirement.

Finance – GDPR will hugely influence the way accounting and financial processes function within your business. Huge amounts of confidential data pass through this department every day, so you need to be sure all your systems and policies are bulletproof. Because of the volume of data at risk, GDPR will impose heavy penalties on businesses that fail to guard their financial data adequately.

Sales & Marketing – Sales and marketing departments are the front line when it comes to dealing with customer data. They are usually responsible for the collection of data, so the consent rules need to be carefully followed. Sales and marketing need to make sure that their teams are addressing customers who have opted in or given their direct consent to receive it.

HR – GDPR will not only impact the way the business works, but it will also improve the rights of all employees too, giving them increased safety, security and control over their personal data. Everyone in the HR department needs to be updating contracts, ensuring that everyone understands their new rights and implementing them.

IT – And of course, the IT department are the first line of defence for all this data. The IT department is the foundation for the GDPR framework, which is why IT departments are currently running around like mad trying to get the systems updated and everything ready.

At Little Acorn Marketing, we are working with businesses in the Thames Valley to help them get ready for GDPR. Sure, we might not be able to help with the in-depth technical IT issues, but we can help review and improve your sales and marketing policies. Whether you just need a few tweaks or to redesign a new strategy to stay complaint, we are here to help. For more information, just get in touch today.

Email – the dreaded ‘delivery status notification (failure)

This week I am welcoming my first guest blogger – Holly Thorne from Virtual Angels

UNDELIVERABLE: your email

Imagine: you’ve spent ages composing an email. Pressed send and then… in a matter of seconds, back comes the dreaded ‘delivery status notification (failure)’.  That’s not so bad if it’s just one email, but what if you’ve just sent your latest email campaign and it’s not just one bounce but a large percentage of your campaign list.  You might be losing out on valuable customers.

Contact details can be wrong for many reasons; the details were recorded incorrectly; the person has moved roles or companies; or maybe they’ve changed their name.  These are just some of the reasons but what can you do to keep information up to date?

Set up a Database

Create a database or consider signing up to a CRM system that’s suitable for your business.  If your contact details are all in one place, you’ll know where to find them. Many CRM systems can now integrate with your emails or other marketing tools to make updating contact information even simpler.  With a contact database you can make notes or create tags so that you can record information such as when you last contacted someone, their preferred name or where you met them.

When choosing a system, consider if you require restricted access (e.g. logins with password access), multiple user logins or customisable fields. If using an online CRM system, check where your data will be stored and how it will be kept safe.

Your contact database should be your ‘single source of truth’ when it comes to contact information and if you have other team members, you need to ensure they know this too. That way, if you’re off sick or a member of staff leaves, the rest of your team can still find relevant information – so contacts are still contactable.

Back it up!

If you’re keeping an electronic database, back it up at least once per week. Ensure the backup is secure and cannot be accessed by people who should not have access to it.

Maintain and Update

It’s really important that you regularly review and update your contact database, also known as ‘data cleaning’. The best trick for this is little and often – spot check contact records and as soon as you become aware of any changes, update them.

If someone’s email bounces, make a note of it the first time. If it bounces again, try contacting them in a different way to see if they are still using that email, or if they have an alternative one they would like you to use.

Ultimately, you can have the fanciest CRM system in the world, but it you don’t have good quality data you may as well have a carrier bag messily stuffed full of business cards!

Finally – The Data Protection Act 1998 outlines your legal obligations when you hold information. This includes keeping personal data accurate and up to date. If you’re unsure of your obligations, check out the ICO website for more information.

If you would like to learn more about setting up a CRM system, Holly would be happy to chat with you.  Her email is holly@virtualangels.co.uk.

The power of the spoken word

I spend a lot of time crafting written communication that has maximum impact, whether that be copy for a website, a case study or perhaps social media posts.

However last week I felt like a fish out of water when the communication became verbal not written, and even worse on video!

I consider myself a confident speaker and can happily stand up and present a 40 second business introduction or deliver a training course. But speak into a camera – nope that is way out of my comfort zone.

I was attending a Video Presenting Skills for Business course at Pinewood Studios with the aim of perfecting a 1 minute promotional video.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I wanted to share some of the key things that I learnt.

There are 3 key elements of communication:

  1. The words you use – surprisingly not the most important part!
  2. Your tone of voice
  3. Body Language

When presenting you need to think about the most important words that you want to get across and make sure you emphasize them.

Don’t be afraid of silence – leave a pause – this can be very powerful.

Check your speed – even if you think you are speaking slowly the chances are you are not.

Even though you are not talking to someone in person you will be on video and the person will be watching you very closely. Look into the camera and be authentic, use eye contact.

Be passionate – it is your business so be proud!

And finally remember SMILE and your voice will too!

video presentation workshop

The course was run by http://www.tvtraining.org.uk/ and in conjunction with the 10-12 Business Club (Structured professional networking for business women) http://www.10-12businessclub.co.uk/

If you would like to learn more I would be happy to talk in more detail about my experience.  You can contact me via email karen@littleacornmarketing.co.uk

Back to basics – Communication

Get back to basics and communicate!

Get back to basics and communicate!

Over the years it has been fascinating to see how communications have changed and how we use language to communicate. I can remember spending many hours getting very frustrated with mail merge, printing off letters by the hundred and stuffing envelopes ready for post office. Now using systems such as Mailchimp we can send out correspondence to hundreds of contacts at the click of a button.

Even how we communicate with friends and family has changed. Once upon a time we would set aside time to write to a friend, probably having spent a lot of time at some point choosing just the right paper and envelopes. Now we send short text messages in ‘text’ speak, or quickly comment on or like a Facebook post. We even send birthday and Christmas cards electronically.

So have we evolved?  Sometimes I think we have abandoned traditional communication methods not necessarily for the best

That is why I am pleased to see that week commencing 21-27th Sept is National Thinking of You Week. The objective is to encourage people to ‘think’ of people they haven’t been in contact with and reach out to them. Do you remember the last time you sent a handwritten card or letter?  How do you feel when one arrives at home addressed to you? I bet you smile and feel just a little bit excited.

This doesn’t just have to be about friends and family. Think about your business – are there people on your database you have not interacted with for ages? Why not use this special week to focus a handful of contacts and connect back with them. Not by bulk email. Be daring – pick up the phone and talk! You really might be surprised at the results.