26% of marketers believe their businesses are unprepared for GDPR, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) latest survey.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is due to come into force in May 2018, and will introduce new rules designed to help consumers protect their data more effectively.
As a result, businesses are leaning on their marketing leaders to oversee the transition towards GDPR compliance, but many feel their businesses need to do more collectively to push the mandate forwards.
Awareness around the subject has increased - 66% of the DMA’s respondents say they have ‘good’ awareness about the subject – rising from 53% in June 2016.
And 70% agree that ‘consent’ is the biggest concern within the new legislation; with 50% saying it is ‘legacy data’ and 37% ‘profiling’.
GDPR’s key criteria involves switching all marketing activity from opt-out to opt-in, meaning marketers will need to receive explicit confirmation from consumers that they are happy to receive communications from them.
Severe penalties await businesses that do not apply - the fines for breaking the regulations are capped at €20 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is higher.
“May 2018 should be a date that is in every marketer’s diary, giving us around 16 months before the GDPR comes into force,” says Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA group.
“It is concerning that only half of our industry feels their businesses are prepared for the new rules and not that many more believe they will be ready in time.
“The finish line for GDPR readiness is fixed and the risk to businesses of not being compliant is significant. Our advice is to continue preparations in earnest over the coming year. Not making it across the line in time is not an option.”
It is unlikely businesses will be able to lean on the UK’s exit from the European Union as reason for taking GDPR off the agenda, as many expect the regulations to take effect before the UK’s exit has been completed.
And regardless, the general consensus is that GDPR represents a minimum standard for data marketing, moving forwards:
“The data-driven creative industries are the engine that will continue to drive growth in the UK economy post-Brexit,” adds Combemale.
“The status of our relationship with Europe does not change the need for UK businesses to prepare for GDPR and it’s concerning to see that only two-thirds of the industry currently expects to be ready for May 2018.
“In an increasingly global digital marketplace, Brexit does not change the behaviours that companies must adopt in order to succeed and build long-term relationships with customers based on transparency and trust.”
In the UK, marketers also await the royal ascent of the Digital Economy Bill, which could yet push through regulation restricting how businesses are able to directly market to consumers over the telephone.