Six months after the introduction of EU data protection legislation, a new report has found that only one third of SMEs believe they are compliant.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has imposed strict new rules across the EU on controlling and processing customer information, with harsh penalties for those that don't comply. However, new research by Email Verifier has found that just 36% of UK SMEs believe they are GDPR-compliant.
In addition, only 31% of SMEs say they have any kind of active email marketing strategy. The findings also show that one in ten GDPR-compliant businesses admit that they have had to delete up to 60% of their database in order to comply. A further 3% have had to cut their databases even more drastically - by more than 90%.
Marios Italos, founder of Email Verifier, said: "There's been a lot of confusion around GDPR, with many businesses hesitating to adopt the new legislation for fear that it will significantly damage their marketing power. Perhaps what many of them fail to understand is that marketing to people who don't want to hear from you is a pointless exercise anyway."
Of those companies who have already adopted the GDPR guidelines, 82% report that their email campaigns are more effective and 20% have experienced a lower email bounce rate. Respondents also said that their IP address and domain name are far less likely to be caught up in spam filters since cleaning their databases.
"For SMEs, GDPR should actually be viewed as an exercise in database hygiene," said Italos. "Email marketing is only effective if it is done well, with a functioning strategy and active subscriber list. To do this, you need to ensure that your subscriber list is healthy and full of genuine subscribers who actually open your email."
A new survey of consumers by Eagle Eye has found that consumers have become more likely to opt out of marketing emails since GDPR was introduced. Its poll has found that 28% of UK shoppers have opted out of email marketing and promotions from their most used brands.
Miya Knights, head of industry insight at Eagle Eye, said: "An increased tendency among consumers to opt out of marketing communications, coupled with a heightened desire for relevant engagement that offers value and utility, as well as cost savings … means marketing management and execution must evolve beyond mass, broadcast media and towards more personalised, real-time connections - at the right time and place."