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  • Writer's pictureKate Talbot

Three Creative Ways Brands Stood Out With GDPR Compliance

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Michael Jackson’s “Privacy,” Dua Lipa’s “New Rules,” and Britney Spears’s “E-mail My Heart” were not just jams to innocently rock out to during the week of May 20th. They were included in Spotify’s “I <3 GDPR” playlist to soothe the souls of lawyers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and many more who are required to ensure GDPR compliance with the new EU regulation. New privacy policies in hand, many companies opted to inform people of the changes they made by email that same week.

By May 25, 2018, or “GDPR Day,” people were exhausted by the influx of GDPR compliance emails. In case you deleted all the ones you received, GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. It is a modernization of the European Union’s data protection laws for the digital era written to protect consumer privacy.

Given GDPR’s purpose, it offered marketers a prime opportunity to creatively engage their communities—maybe even to make them smile. Thankfully, many brands did not go the “email on GDPR Eve” route, instead using this opportunity to serve their customer needs while upping the entertainment value. Here are three tips for creating memorable experiences:

1)   Make your subject lines stand out

Do you open emails with the subject line “We’ve updated our privacy policy?” Many inboxes lit up with this generic subject line as GDPR Day approached, while others were graced with more clever enticements to open.

Quuu Promote, a content promotion tool, threw it back to high school cheerleading with “Give me a G, give me a D, give me a P, give me an R, what does it spell?” Splash, an event marketing platform, went with puppy gifs and a subject line of “Updated Privacy Policy + Puppies.” (As we know, puppies are always welcome.)

The pups blew Splash’s email metrics out of the water. “Compared to our average emails, we had a 75% increase in our open rate and over 50% increase in our click-to-open,” said Amy Holtzman, VP of marketing at Splash. “But it wasn’t just the numbers. We weren’t expecting the overwhelming response we received from our community — both in direct email replies, word-of-mouth, and on social media.”

When brands deviate from the norm and humanize their messages, they’re able to generate affinity. Both brands understood the pain-point consumers were experiencing from email overload and included content that they wanted to see. It’s not surprising that their open rates were higher.

2)  Let your brand shine

Regulations are the exact opposite of photogenic. But that didn’t stop some brands from creating visuals to help their customers more easily digest the law. Calm, the meditation app, launched  “Once upon a GDPR”—a new Sleep Story featuring the 107 pages and 57,509 words of GDPR read aloud. This creative approach aligns with their product and core values. Calm’s cofounder, Alex Tew, cheekily added, “Insomnia is a modern epidemic. The search for a cure is a new Holy Grail. GDPR may be our new best hope.”

Splash stayed true to their content strategy and brand messaging through their email outreach. Holtzman explained, “In general, we aim to make all our content digestible. A big part of GDPR’s mission is to make legal documentation — especially around the use of personal data — more easily digestible. The best way we could project the message across loud and clear was to simplify it (or TL;DR it) with bullet points and minimal descriptions. At the end of the day, we’re still Splash, and we really wanted to let our personality shine — even if it was through a typically stale legal notification.”

3)   Go above and beyond to educate your community

As the GDPR can affect companies significantly — Google and Facebook were sued for $8.8 billion on May 25 — it is important to educate consumers on the law’s ramifications. Splash knew that an email, even one with puppies, wouldn’t suffice. So they also created a downloadable eBook and interactive webinar with a GDPR expert to review compliance, and had both ready to go for GDPR day.

“As we started to work on our own GDPR compliance, we accumulated a lot of knowledge on how GDPR would impact events. Because of that, we felt a responsibility to educate our audience on the implications for them and their programs,” Holtzman said of their GDPR strategy.

“Interestingly, we initially thought the need for this type of content would end on May 25, but we were wrong. Since the GDPR compliance deadline, we’ve experienced an increase in the number of questions, and they’re getting even more complex. We see this as an opportunity to continue our commitment to GDPR education and will soon be putting out an updated eBook, another webinar, and a blog series. Marketers are hungry for real-life examples of GDPR in practice and we’re in a unique position to deliver them.”

Seize the creative opportunity—always

GDPR compliance is not simple. This is why companies were given nearly two years to achieve it. The amount of emails that were sent close to the deadline highlights how actually informing people of changes that impact them was mostly thought of as a box to be checked rather than a marketing opportunity to be seized. As we saw from the marketers who took the latter route, when companies take the time to humanize their brand through empathy, comedy, and education, they stand out—something to think about when the next 57,509-word regulation drops.

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