Depend on your append

MarketingFile - Marketing strategy week 2: Market Analysis
MarketingFile - Marketing strategy week 2: Market Analysis

We are all working and living in a rapidly changing environment, it’s a fact, and a very important fact to consider when carrying out customer or prospect marketing. The business environment is a volatile place and gaining competitive advantage is key to success, the question you need to ask is how to gain this advantage? We highly recommend through the use of data!

Data is essential, whether it is your own customer data or a prospect list, ensuring you contact the right person with the right message at the right time leads to valuable competitive advantage. Using up to date data and appending your customer data can help broaden your contact channels ensuring you communicate effectively to your target market.

Did you know every year on average between 10-15% of the population in the UK move house? Plus taking into account anomalies such as floods that effected the country last year, local changes can be significantly greater. As a business keeping up to date with these changes in your data is essential in ensuring you continue to contact the right person at the correct address looking for the products or services you are offering.

Don’t assume existing lists will be current, you could be missing out on loyal, interested customers who have changed their contact details. Increase their value and responsiveness by appending additional intelligence on customers and prospects. For example, you can append up to date telephone numbers, email address, postal addresses or lifestyle information to consumer data. Or with B2B data adding the most recent senior contact name, email address and phone number.

Appending new contact channels to your existing data opens up the opportunity to communicate with your clients via multiple channels. We’ve listed 5 reasons why your business should append additional information to your list:

  1. Clean lists mean reliable mailing lists.
  2. Reliable mailing lists mean targeted information and offers.
  3. Targeted information and offers mean higher response rates.
  4. Higher response rates mean maximised customer relationships.
  5. Maximised customer relationships mean improved profitability.

These will all have a positive impact on your direct marketing and improve your campaign results. Don’t forget you can append lists through demographics such as occupation, home value & marital status, making your message more targeted for higher response rates and a better return on investment from direct marketing campaigns.

For more information on Marketing File’s data services call 01462 437 733 or find out more about what we do with data.

Designing Direct Mail

MarketingFile - Return to Sender
MarketingFile - Return to Sender

When it comes to designing your direct mail piece it can be broken down into three sections; copy, layout and images/colours. Getting to grips with all three can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have a design team on hand. We’ve put together the below tips on how to approach all three areas;

The Layout

A very important element of your mail piece is to deliver the “what’s in it for me?” to your prospects or customers, they need a clear reason why they should read it and this needs to be visible as soon as they open your mail piece.
Here are a few ideas to help you start putting your mail piece together:

  • Gather ideas on what you and your colleagues or friends and family like, this will give different perspectives to start with.
  • Think about the practicality of your mail piece, this relates to the cost of producing the item and if can it be posted through a mail box.
  • How are you going to grab their attention, use of colours or images? Remember not to make them too distracting from what you want them to read or act on.
  • Your offering should compel your readers to take action, this has a bearing on your targeting and segmentation of your customers i.e. not offering something they already have or don’t want.
  • Call to actions need to be clear for what you want the reader to do next, making the process after this as easy as possible will help with conversions.

The Colour/Images

The classic saying of “a picture says a thousand words” really is true, this is why using the right imagery in your mail piece to illustrate what you are saying plays an important role in grabbing the readers’ attention. These are a couple of ideas on how to choose the right image and colour:

  • Use images which convey your message, be a creative here and think outside the box.
  • Try not to use just an image of your product, have images of your product being used so your reader can relate to it.
  • Your colours and images should not conflict, it will only make your mail piece look ugly.
  • Colours portray different messages i.e. Red indicates emergency and commands attention, Blue relates to confidence and trust, White is associated with innocence and can have a calming effect.
  • Keep an essence of “white space” you don’t want to overcrowd your mail piece, give it flow and direction by carefully placing your copy and images on the page.

The Copy

At this point you should have grabbed your readers attention, now you need to give them information they are going to find interesting – this again relates to your segmentation, your copy should reflect your readers interests. These are a few ideas on how to produce copy your targets are going to read:

  • Always keep it short and sweet, time is of the essence here. Your mail piece needs to capture their attention, give them the information they want and give them a clear call to action to respond to all in a matter of a couple of minutes.
  • People skim read so organise your copy into small bite-size sections with clear titles, if the title grabs their attention, they might just read it.
  • Only include relevant content in your mail piece, do not include superficial copy – your readers will not appreciate it and therefore will not read it. Include facts and figures to back up your offering.
  • Add a personal touch, address the letter or mail piece to them directly and sign it off with your name, rather than a company name. People respond better when they are written to personally.
  • Give them options to contact you, let them check you out on social networks or take a look at your website, but make sure your content and messages are uniformed across all these channels be sure not to send mixed messages.

We hope all of these tips will help you with your next mail piece, keep it fresh and interesting for your readers and always remember to follow up each recipient, don’t presume they will call you!


MarketingFile - #hashtags
MarketingFile - #hashtags

Nearly 12 years ago one man, Chris Messina, changed the Internet by asking a very simple question and he ended up creating one of the most ubiquitous things about Twitter.

how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?

— 𝙲𝚑𝚛𝚒𝚜 𝙼𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚊 (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007

The simple hashtag is now used almost everywhere on social media as a way to group things together, track an event or even as branding. It’s even permeated our speech, #justsayin.

But how important are these little words and phrases really and where should you be using them (and where shouldn’t you)? With social media now one of the cheapest ways of marketing your brand it’s essential to get your message seen, which can be difficult seeing as there are 500 million tweets per day.


Let’s begin where the idea started. At the time, Twitter was a new beast, micro-blogging was seen as a bit odd, how could you ever get a message across in only 140 characters? Yet it very quickly caught on, helped along with the fact you could text a tweet on the go (yep, before smartphones that was a thing).

The trouble was, if you weren’t used to the site and how to browse it effectively, it was difficult to find content about things you wanted to hear about. Chris’s idea quickly took off a few months later when people were using Twitter to talk about the San Diego fires and grouping them together with the hashtag #sandiegofire.

Yet it wasn’t until two years later that Twitter fully integrated the hashtag into their site by automatically adding a hyperlink to a hashtag, like they are today.

Lee, we don’t care about the history just tell us how to use these weird characters!

Fine, fine, fine. One of the best ways of using them is to create your own brand hashtag, which can be as simple as your company name. It’s a great way of tracking what people are saying about you, but also an easy way to talk back to your customers. If they tweet something nice about you, respond, they tweet a complaint, respond! Having a hashtag makes it much simpler to keep an eye on these things.

You must also remember the character limit (240 characters, including spaces) so keep a good balance between text and hashtags.

Next, always do a bit of research on the topic and see which hashtags are used most often. You want your tweet to appear in that feed and people to interact with it, retweet it, like it, reply etc. #FF is a great one to use, it means Follow Friday, the idea is you tag some people you follow and think others should be as well. It’s cross promotion at it’s simplest. You’re more likely to get tagged in future #FF posts and be followed by people discovering you on the feed.

Oh, and one last thing. Read your hashtag! I repeat, read your hashtag! There have been numerous disasters in the past, as hashtags don’t contain spaces, so read, reread and get someone else to read it before putting it on the Internet where the embarrassment will never leave you. On that note, this is my favourite from 2012 #susanalbumparty.

Susan Boyle’s PR team will forever regret #susanalbumparty so please remember to capitalise your hashtags and read them!


Yep, you can use a hashtag on Facebook posts and have been able to since 2013. Now, you may be thinking you don’t really see them as your browse your feed and you would be right. They are used rarely by users and even by businesses, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all.

They are used in the same way as Twitter, to aggregate chat around a certain topic and Facebook had hoped it would encourage more engagement around the buzz of large events and moments. Such as when we all gasp and scream in unison at the latest Game of Thrones twist/death/awful moment. Yet, we don’t ever hashtag that event on Facebook.

But as a business this quiet little area of the Internet is a good opportunity. However, just as before, you really need to research carefully the hashtags that are relevant to your brand and ensure they are being used on Facebook. You must also ensure you don’t use too many hashtags, in fact only one or two will yield the most engagement. Oh, and don’t use them on every post either, only use them when relevant, like part of a conversation or your own hashtag around your brand or a special event. Less is more with hashtags on Facebook!


Owned by Facebook, but a different beast entirely. Hashtags on Instagram are absolutely key to increasing engagement! I cannot emphasise that enough! The way they are used on this platform is also completely different to the others, but don’t sweat it, let me walk you through it.

On Twitter and Facebook, using a #hashtag within a sentence isn’t that off putting, but in Instagram it’s all about the aesthetic, and you don’t want an ugly link in your well thought out caption (which is a topic for another day)! There are a couple of ways you can divide your caption from your hashtags though.

  • Dots. If you do a return on Instagram it isn’t recognised, which means dots are used to break it up. Three is the general number used as it then hides your hashtags behind the more link, keeping it all separate for you.
instagram - #hashtags
  • Post them in the comments. Instead of having the hashtags in the caption itself, some people choose to put them in a separate comment on the picture. There isn’t much difference in terms of engagement, just personal preference. Once you’ve created and posted your image, you then go to its comments and pop in all your hashtags there.

The amount of hashtags you use is also considerably more than you would within any other platform, around nine or ten is seen as the optimal number for engagement. You can use up to 30 hashtags on your posts though and ten within Instagram stories. Yep you can hashtag your story in Instagram, which opens up a whole new way of people to discover your brand.

Once again you need to be researching the most relevant hashtags to use on your post, the most popular (but not too popular, you don’t want your message to get lost) and absolutely do not use trending hashtags that aren’t relevant. Users can flag when a hashtag is being used in the wrong way and choose to remove your post from their feed, which in turn helps update the algorithm on Instagram and looks bad on your brand.


You didn’t know? Yes, Pinterest officially lets you use hashtags and has done since 2017. There was this weird time where they told users to not use them, and suddenly hashtags were clickable and then they weren’t… They finally embraced the hashtag though just over a year ago and people are searching and using them to discover new content. When you create a pin description and start typing a hashtag, a list appears with suggestions and tells you the number of pins associated with it, and some are in the tens of thousands!

Pinterest users though are still not entirely sure about them, some see them as spammy and turn away from pins with too many attached. Only four hashtags are ever displayed at a time when looking at a board or stream, so more than that and they won’t be seen. You can add more though to try and boost your pin appearing, but always make sure your top four are the first ones, and that you only include them at the end of your description (a bit like Instagram). You want hashtags to help people find your content, but they also want to know what your pin is about and not a list of links.

There you have it! The major social media platforms and how to use hashtags on each! Even though they’ve been around for 12 years now, it’s still early days for them on Pinterest and they will most likely find their way on many more platforms to come! Keep experimenting and find your perfect balance for top engagement and let us know your top tips! Tweet us or comment!

Web optimisation for 2019

MarketingFile - How to get your content just right
MarketingFile - How to get your content just right

It’s been a crazy year during 2018, Instagram launched IGTV, changing the way we watch video, GDPR came into effect and Thanos snapped half the universe out of existence. So let’s look into 2019 and all the things you should be considering when developing for the web.

1. Mobile First – It’s something that has been said for years, but in March Google officially rolled out the mobile-first index.

On requirements: Neither mobile-friendliness nor a mobile-responsive layout are requirements for mobile-first indexing. Pages without mobile versions still work on mobile, and are usable for indexing. That said, it’s about time to move from desktop-only and embrace mobile 🙂

— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) June 14, 2018

There are some simple ways to make sure your website meets these requirements.

  • Make your site adaptive to any device
  • Always scale your images, especially for mobile users
  • Avoid pop-ups that cover your content

UXPin has a great guide to get you started with mobile first design.

2. Technical SEO – It isn’t as difficult as it sounds, there are countless tools and checklists available to help you at the end of a Google search. But here are some quick pointers to get you started.

  • We’re saying it again, make sure your site is mobile friendly
  • Check your site indexing via Google Search Console, and fix any issues
  • Fix duplicate title tags and meta descriptions
  • Fix broken links
  • Submit your sitemap to Google

3. Website Speed – Look, you know how annoying it is when you click on a site and it doesn’t load quickly. Your customers expect the same from your website, in fact they expect a site to load in less than three seconds. And that’s on mobile! So make sure you double check the following.

  • Minimise HTTP requests, like scripts, images and CSS
  • Compress your files to reduce their size and combine common files to reduce requests
  • Have both CSS and JavaScript load simultaneously
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Minimise image sizes
  • Use a CDN
  • Keep website plugins to a minimum

4. User intent – The Internet is getting smarter, machine learning and artificial intelligence continue to be developed and evolve and continue to carry more weight in Google’s algorithm. The idea is to understand the context behind a search and then serve results based on searcher intent. It’s very clever stuff and is becoming much more important in ranking, especially with voice search now equating to 20% of the searches made on mobile and is set to grow to 50% by 2020. It’s certainly something to start to consider when doing your next SEO audit.

5. Content marketing – The buzzword that doesn’t go away. Content marketing is more relevant than ever, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to break through the clutter that is on the World Wide Web. Here are some top tips that will help.

  • Create a content hub, whether that’s a resource centre, knowledge pool, or whatever you want to call it
  • Fill it with useful, informative and entertaining content
  • Spread the word and promote your content on social channels
  • Include images, content with a video or image typically convert better than text alone

6. Schema – It sounds technical, but it isn’t that difficult to implement and it will help contextualise your webpage, improving the search experience. If you have a WordPress site it’s even easier, as there are a number of plugins that will do it for you!

7. User Experience – User Experience takes into account every interaction your customers, or users, have with your website. There are seven factors that influence UX and in helping your customers use your site, you help Google and other search engines too.

8. Link Building – If you’re unsure what this is, it’s the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. Search engines use links to crawl the web and will crawl between sites, which allows search engines to find you, putting you ahead.

There you have it! The top tips for 2019! It may seem exhasuting, but it will be absolutely worth it! Of course, the easiest and quickest way for you to get this done is to talk to us today about refreshing your website.

Direct Route to Market

Direct Route to Market
Direct Route to Market

Following the digital explosion, direct mail suddenly seemed a bit ‘old school’ and marketers jumped ship to explore a whole new world of social media, email, clicks and impressions. Digital is exciting, and changing all the time, but it’s also got a tough job to grab your customer’s attention in a hectic online world.

Email is a great medium for many reasons – cheap, quick to design and deploy, measurable, perfect for personalisation but it can be too easy to create and send a meaningless email campaign for these very reasons. There are thousands of emails landing in inboxes every day and it’s not unusual for someone to have piles of unread emails that they plan to revisit one day – but they never will. Even the more engaging campaigns are quickly swiped away if another notification comes in which is more interesting. We are hounded day and night by updates from apps and platforms, resulting in short attention spans.

It’s what’s inside that counts. So when an envelope lands on the doormat, it’s light relief from a screen and somewhat a mystery to what is within. A mailpiece evokes emotions – whether that’s curiosity, excitement, fear (why are they writing to me?) which leads to it being opened. Let’s be honest, a Christmas or birthday e-card is really no substitute for an actual card – perhaps this reminds us of our childhood (cards with cheques or vouchers were always the best ones). Would you send a sympathy e-card? Probably not, because it doesn’t convey enough sentiment. It’s a bit quick and dirty.

For businesses

Any entity that handles personal data, whether it belongs to customers OR staff, will be subject to the GDPR. Realistically, anyone currently subject to the DPA will also be subject to the GDPR.

Remember that your audience might not even be on email frequently, might not find it engaging or might not even trust it. The tangibility of mail (whether that’s an envelope, self-mailer or postcard) gives the impression it is worth reading, sharing or holding onto. As a marketer, you also have more ‘real estate’ to play with. Whereas email has just seconds to catch attention and works best with shorter copy, longer copy can be very effective for a letter – you have time and space to tell a story and include testimonials or extra inserts, glossy images and a choice of stock to match your brand and messaging. You can even include scented stock like suntan lotion for a holiday brochure – smells also induce emotions, nostalgia and action. Within the envelope itself you can include coupons, vouchers, a free sample or gift or quirky insert that’s relevant to the messaging. An invitation or event ticket, for example, feels much more special than a barcode you can print off at home. That’s the power of direct mail.

It’s been proven that direct mail is effective and well-received. An in-depth study by Royal Mail revealed that print pieces stay in the house for an average of 17 days, are passed around the house, displayed and re-read up to seven times. 66% of respondents revealed that they keep mail that they considered ‘useful’. This figure rises for sectors like finance and tourism. Conversely, 51% of emails are deleted within two seconds. The DMA has found that direct mail response rates can be 10 to 30 times higher than response rates for digital.

Part of the marketing mix

Direct mail can and should be part of the whole marketing mix, as it doesn’t have to work alone to get a desired action. The mailpiece is the gateway to further engagement and gaining interest. It could achieve part or all of AIDCA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action) by encouraging recipients to go online, scan a QR code or engage with social media (uploading a selfie or taking part in a competition for example). Or, it can be sent out after your digital marketing campaigns have identified your warmer prospects. Of course, it can work well on its own too, so testing is the best way to find out what works for your audiences and yields results.

At Everything DM we can design and fulfil your next direct mail campaign from concept to doormat – everything from sourcing data to saving on postage using OCR design and working within postal size regulations. Get in touch with us today.

Keep Your Brand Consistent on Social Media

MarketingFile - Keep Your Brand Consistent on Social Media
MarketingFile - Keep Your Brand Consistent on Social Media

Whether you’re a fan of it or not, truth is, you can’t cast social media aside in 2018. As its role increases in homes and offices across the country, many prospects will search for your business on social platforms first. If you don’t appear, there’s a good chance you just lost a sale.

Whilst splashing it out here there and everywhere may seem like a valid solution, it’s not. Remember how we showed you what your brand says about you? Well social media is no different. Whilst it’s great to get the word out, keep it simple and stick within your companies means. We look at some of the best ways to keep brand continuity online;

Design & Graphics

Let’s be honest we all take in the visuals. We are naturally drawn to pages that appeal to us aesthetically. Although each social media channel is different and your message should vary, you should aim to use your brand logos, style and overall layout for continuity. Whether it’s your profile photo, cover image, branded videos or colour and layout – all of these elements should be coupled to tell the same story.

Think of it as your brand personality. It can be a great way to engage prospects and get them excited to be involved. Cohesion is the key word here.

Your Message

Conflicting messages will only achieve confusion and harm your brand. Look to use a similar writing style and message. At the same time, don’t bombard readers with the same message over and over. Look to keep the pace varied; Facebook and Twitter users are two very different entities. 

Whether it be a formal format or a loose and fun approach, this should be visible across all streams. Focus on tone of voice and keep your language consistent. If you’re going to bamboozle people with your jargon, make sure you do that everywhere and match it on your website.

Remember, followers do not like being advertised to constantly. Get creative, social media is much more than a promotional stream.


No one like a show off. Whilst it’s great to demonstrate what you can do, only doing so becomes laborious and boring for your followers. Mix it up by sharing posts from people you follow. Be it funny, interesting or informative content, share away to lighten your page and show you’re more about engagement than sales (even if that’s your ultimate goal).

Don’t go sharing willy nilly. Remember your brand goals? Any posts you share should also tie into them. For example, as a personal trainer sharing links to other fitness videos or workout plans can really spike your interest. Sharing cute pictures of dogs… Probably not as much.

Consistent Signals

There are lots of platforms available to help you keep your brand consistent. Why not try Hootsuite?  You can further strengthen your brand message by linking your presence across multiple channels.

This is a great way to utilise high reviews on a related platform as well as building your reputation.

How To Design A Great Landing Page

MarketingFile - How To Design A Great Landing Page
MarketingFile - How To Design A Great Landing Page

Looking to get the most from your digital marketing in 2018? Be it social media, Google ads, email marketing or even the occasional print piece. Landing pages are a must for any agenda.

Before now you probably directed all your PPC and other marketing material to your homepage, but this can be a huge mistake. By tailoring pages to individual campaigns we can create a more unique visitor experience which in turn drives conversions.

There are a number of things you can do and we’ll talk about them shortly. Firstly, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself, before plunging in the deep end;

  1. What is your goal? Are you looking for data collection, newsletter sign ups or sales? Knowing this helps us establish a design and content to drive the desired results.
  2. Who are you competing with? What are they doing to succeed and how can you emulate their success?
  3. Who is your audience and what can you do to spark their interest?
  4. How do your prospects arrive at your landing page?

Once you have the answer to these, you’re one stage closer to processing new leads. Now let’s look at the design elements;


Keep ISimple Stupid. A landing page should provide all the necessary content in a clear and simple format. Avoiding waffle or overwhelming the viewer with information. Remember this person has already seen enough to get them to this page, now drive home the sale.

High-Quality Content

In keeping with our first point, the art of great copy is best left to the professionals. If you need to hire a copywriter then do so. Information should be short, to the point and engaging. Nobody has time to sit and read a novel.

All Roads Lead to Rome

Make sure you’re fully aware of all entry and exit points to your page. Make sure you limit links away from the page and potentially increase in roads. We use landing pages to help funnel our prospects down a desired pathway. Making them feel that their still in control as they reach our desired goals. 

Make it Easy

Always remember that the purpose of our landing page is to convert leads. By providing as few barriers between points A and B as possible helps this. The next step on the journey should always be obvious. Obviously this depends on your eventual outcomes, but make it appealing and easy to distinguish. Form submissions should be as short and simple as possible and download buttons should be as irresistible as your favourite sweet. 


Call to Actions don’t always mean buttons. Headline text encouraging users to “download your free marketing guide” can be just as effective. Don’t overcomplicate it. Tell your visitor exactly what you want them to do. 

Use Headlines

The best landing pages use their main headline to confirm their offer. This is often accompanied by a sub-heading to provide more details. An example of this being a heading of “Get Your Free Facebook Marketing EBook”, followed by “Learn how to grow your followers, likes and engagement with help from some of the worlds top marketing guru’s”.

Use Video

A picture paints a thousand words, so who knows how many a video portrays. If your product is overly complex or your system long winded, consider a video to shed some light.

Grab A Deal

The easiest way to rake in those conversions is with an offer too good to refuse. Create an offer that’s engaging and desirable, then let everyone know just how great it is. It’s as easy as that.

Remember Your Origins

Prospects arrived at your web page from a specific advert or marketing piece, so make sure you tie into that. There’s nothing worse than clicking a link and arriving at a web page that bears no resemblance to the link you selected. It’s an instant turn off and deal killer. The key to landing pages is to be specific, no more sending people to your homepage, remember?

Be Mobile Friendly

By creating a responsive page, you can as much as double your conversion rate. With mobile traffic ever increasing can you afford to risk missing out?

Speed is Essential

When it comes to bounce rates, load times play a huge part. You can improve yours by keeping images to minimum sizes, using cache tools or upgrading to a super-fast web server.

Keep on Track

Conversion tracking should never be underestimated. For best practice, make sure you set up tracking correctly to see how your pages are performing. It all helps when keeping control of your finances (unless they’re bottomless of course!).

Drop us an email on [email protected] and we will be more than happy to talk over your requirements.

GDPR – it’s not all about consent

MarketingFile - What is GDPR & will it affect me?
MarketingFile - What is GDPR & will it affect me?

It’s the final countdown to GDPR. It becomes law this week and the general consensus from a lot of marketers, business owners and even legal experts is that they are still not quite sure if and how they can legitimately process personal data for their various operational purposes.

“Consent” seems to have become the default, or utopia, for satisfying GDPR, when in fact there are six legal bases for processing personal data. Consent is just one of these, and even the ICO admits “the GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent.” Even if you obtain it, the data subject may withdraw it at any time. To the consumer it also sounds like a slightly sinister committment to an eternity of marketing emails.

The “please opt in to continue hearing from us” requests have been landing left, right and centre with tones of sadness, desperation and urgency. Recipients are not really turned on by GDPR emails, partly because they don’t fully understand, don’t take the consequences seriously, or are simply not motivated to click or read a privacy policy. The more compelling communications give great reasons to update preferences and stay on the mailing list, and this can be presented effectively across other channels such as web and social, without even mentioning the G-word or C-word (consent).

The many organisations chasing consent like headless chickens may be taking unnecessary and laborious action, especially if they are B2B, as we explained in our blog about legitimate interest, which is likely to be the sound legal basis for many marketers. There are employers scratching their heads wondering if their own employees need to consent to opting-in to the storing and processing of their bank details so they can be paid every month. In this situation there are other more relevant bases, like the contract between the employee and his/her workplace.

So what are these four other bases? Besides consent and LI, the remaining options are Contract, Legal obligation, Vital interests and Public task. There is not much talk of these – granted they are not as relevant as consent and legitimate interest for marketers, but the world of marcomms encompasses all genres of communication that are now subject to GDPR. For professionals with responsibility for marketing and communications as well as areas like HR and data audits/strategy, these other legal bases are worth exploring and understanding.

Let’s take a look at these other bases in more detail.


There doesn’t have to be an actual contract in place between two parties here. This basis refers to processing someone’s personal data to fulfil your contractual obligations to them (e.g. process and deliver an online purchase or an employment contract), or because they have asked you to do something before entering into a contract (e.g. provide a quote):

“The processing must be necessary to deliver your side of the contract with this particular person. If the processing is only necessary to maintain your business model more generally, this lawful basis will not apply and you should consider another lawful basis, such as legitimate interests.” The ICO

One of the GDPR rumours is that businesses will flounder because they won’t be able to respond to customer enquiries without a database of fully-consenting opted-in clients. But if a prospect or customer wants a quote or service, then processing their data is likely to be legitimate under the Contract basis. Of course, what you do with their data thereafter is important. You can’t just add it to a marketing pot or even use it to profile an individual’s interests, if it is not necessary to perform the contract itself. Your privacy notice should be updated to make it clear what happens to that data and how long it’s kept for, with justification.

Legal obligation

Sounding similar to contract obligations, legal obligation is a basis you can rely on to comply with a common (UK/EU) law or statutory obligation. It isn’t something new, it hails from the 1998 Data Protection Act, so if you are looking at this using this basis and satisfy current law then you should not need to make huge changes.

“The point is that your overall purpose must be to comply with a legal obligation which has a sufficiently clear basis in either common law or statute.” The ICO

This takes us back to the employer/employee scenario, and the misunderstanding of consent. For example, you can rely on the Contract basis to hold an employee’s bank details and rely on Legal obligation to legitimately disclose employees’ salary information when requested to do so by HMRC. Other examples from the ICO include a court order, Act or regulatory requirement that request certain personal data you hold.

It’s important to note under this basis, the individual has no right to erasure, right to data portability, or right to object.

Vital interests

This basis is one you’re unlikely to encounter (hopefully), particularly in a business context. It really is there for matters of life and death, such as disclosing a data subject’s details in a medical emergency or protecting a child. 

You cannot rely on vital interests for health data or other special category data if the individual is capable of giving consent, and planned medical treatment is unlikely to fall into this category.

Public task

 Any organisation exercising official authority or carrying out a specific task in the public interest can rely on this basis. The focus is on the nature of the function, not the nature of the organisation. It is similar to ‘processing for functions of a public nature’ within the Data Protection Act 1998 so is not really anything new.

You’ll have a lawful basis for processing if you’re:

  • carrying out a specific task in the public interest which is laid down by law; or
  • exercising official authority which is laid down by law.

Private companies may fall into this remit if the nature of the function in question is in public interest, e.g. water companies carrying out a public service.


Marketers will likely be deciding between consent and legitimate interest but the other legal bases should not be discounted, depending on the nature of the organisation and the purposes it sets out to achieve. Anyone tasked with data strategy, internal and external communications, HR or writing a privacy policy will need to be aware of all six bases. Don’t forget, the essence of GDPR is respecting the rights and freedoms of the individual, and demonstrating accountability and transparency…not finding loopholes to send unwanted marketing. 

For all of the bases, you should consider:

  • what updates need to be made to your privacy policy
  • how to keep a record and justification for each basis you’re relying on
  • an alternative basis if you’re not confident it’s right – it’s difficult to swap to a different one later on
  • individuals’ rights to erasure, data portability and right to object (this differs between the legal basis, but an individual always has the right to object to processing for the purposes of direct marketing, whatever lawful basis applies)
  • the need to document your decision that the processing is necessary
  • if there is another reasonable way to achieve your purpose without processing the data.

The ICO has a user-friendly lawful basis interactive guidance tool which you can explore here.

How to write award-winning copy

MarketingFile - How to write award-winning copy
MarketingFile - How to write award-winning copy

If you’d like an accolade to add to your organisation’s strapline, emails or social profile, writing an engaging awards entry could bag you an Oscar of your industry. There’s more to it than submitting a few words though. Your entry must convince the panel of expert judges exactly why you’re worthy, which might feel like venturing into the Dragons’ Den.

In the UK, and indeed the world, there are awards ceremonies for nearly every sector, both B2B and B2C, from travel to technology and construction to catering. It’s not just established industry leaders or those with big budgets capable of winning (or being shortlisted) either… an emerging or smaller organisation that has produced outstanding work and results has just as much chance of impressing the judges.

Getting started

Google what’s out there. Sign up for details of the next relevant awards and take note of the deadline for entries. Make sure your product, organisation or campaign fits the category you’re going for and ensure eligibility in terms of project timelines, country of operation, budget etc. otherwise your entry could be void before you start.

“Awards entries should be lovingly crafted like any other creative exercise to engage the reader and excite them.” 
Awards judge James Matthewson

Next, put aside enough time to actually create the entry. You’ll need to gather insight, results, testimonials, images or video and perhaps specific details from colleagues and stakeholders. You might want to consider hiring a professional copywriter and multimedia designer to make your entry as relevant, compelling and attractive for the panel of judges. We can help with this – simply get in touch.

For insider tips on creating your entry, we pinned down marketing awards judge James Matthewson who offers this advice:

  • Read the criteria and make sure you answer it – don’t go off on a tangent, skirt around it or completely miss the point
  • Just like for a newspaper or magazine, the headline should define the outcome. What was achieved? What was the success that justifies your award entry?
  • Overstepping the word count can work against you. Personally I am not going to count every word, especially if the content is engaging, but have honed a sense of what is too long/short and judges will check if necessary
  • Plain paragraphs of copy won’t cut it. Like most consumers of content these days, as judges we are looking for impact – a submission that engages the brain and makes the reader want to know more
  • A picture/video/infographic speaks a thousand words and effectively breaks up the copy
  • Having that said, even an award in the creative sector needs to demonstrate some commercial value. A common mistake I see is too much focus on the creative output and not the results
  • Support your claims with numbers and client testimonials – whatever assets you have. Campaign outcomes are key
  • Don’t assume what the judges know. Explain things clearly, put the campaign into context and avoid jargon.

Once drafted, it’s a good idea to ask someone to have a read over your entry, ideally one who doesn’t know the product well who will give an honest opinion as to whether it makes sense and is engaging, or is too boring or complicated. As a final sense check, does the entry make you think WOW? Judges read a lot of submissions, and yours needs to shine.

Just make sure you don’t miss the deadline!

About the judge

James A. Matthewson is Founder and CEO of EVRYWHERE Group, a Luxury & UHNW Advisory business based in Mayfair. James has been an Awards Judge numerous times as well as (adjunct) Professor for HULT and CREA Business Schools on their Luxury & Digital Masters.

GDPR: a legitimate interest for direct marketers

MarketingFile - What is GDPR & will it affect me?
MarketingFile - What is GDPR & will it affect me?

The GDPR implementation date is creeping closer leaving many marketers and business owners still confused and perhaps panicked. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, nine out of ten say they are still not ready for 25th May 2018.

With “cold turkey” cases like pub chain JD Wetherspoon deleting its email database of 700,000 customers and deciding to market through social media and website instead, there is a temptation or fear to follow suit or launch a strategy to re-opt everyone in to marketing.

Industry bodies like the DMA and Data Protection Network (DPN) are providing a lot of useful information for marketers on GDPR. We’ve distilled their salient points into a briefing on the viable strategies to continue sending relevant, targeted direct marketing to a qualified audience.

Firstly, have you got consent?

In a nutshell, under GDPR there are six lawful grounds on which to process data. One of these is consent and you may well already have sufficient consent to process your customer/prospect data for marketing. But beware the ICO sets a high standard for consent. Essentially it is based on the current DPA clause: consent “must be freely given, specific, informed” but it also goes further to include being unambiguous with a clear affirmative action (no pre-ticked boxes), keeping a record of consent and avoiding making consent a condition of a contract. Note that the ability to withdraw consent must be easy and not incur a penalty for the individual, and regular consent reviews should be implemented.

So rushing in to get fresh consent from your hundreds/thousands/millions of customers could be unnecessary, costly and detrimental to an already legitimate database. If you have consent that satisfies GDPR, ensure you continue to adhere to it making any of the required changes such as consent reviews (every six months is sage advice). Ensure your current sign-up forms are GDPR-compliant for data you acquire henceforth.

But one thing is clear. You cannot contact someone who has already opted out, regardless of your motive. Even if you think you’re being prudent or helpful– to check if they want to opt back in, to update their details or inform them about your GDPR strategy – it’s breaching the law. Flybe and Morrisons have been penalised for this.

Legitimate interest

We’ve established that consent that meets GDPR standards is quite hard to obtain – even the ICO admits this. But remember, there are six bases for processing data and you must choose the most appropriate. The DMA and its partners have lobbied for the continued use of legitimate interest, and as one of the six bases it may be the one for you as a data controller.

“The processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.” Article 47

Legitimate interest can be relied upon for a whole host of data processing purposes including fraud prevention, profiling and HR but we are focusing here on direct marketing.

CEO of the DMA Group, Chris Combemale remarks “Most of our members will use ‘legitimate interest’ as the basis for normal data hygiene, segmentation, personalisation of offers and channels such as postal, and recital of 47 of the GDPR states that direct marketing is a legitimate interest.”

However, if you’re not sure exactly what it means, you’re not alone. One in four marketers are concerned about the issue of legitimate interests under the new rules*.

There are three elements to the legitimate interests basis. You need to:

  • identify a legitimate interest;
  • show that the processing is necessary to achieve it; and
  • balance it against the individual’s interests, rights and freedoms

To break this down further, legitimate interest means that there would be a relevant and appropriate relationship between the data subject and the controller, i.e. the people you’re marketing to would expect to hear from you and not object. You must also include an option to opt-out at every opportunity. It should be noted that GDPR prohibits the use of legitimate interest for as a basis for processing personal data by a public authority (Art.6 (1)(f)).

Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes.

An update on fundraising events from a charity to its donors? Sounds reasonable.

A mail pack about child investment funds to someone who doesn’t have children? Now it’s starting to sound less legitimate.

If legitimate interest is to be used, then there is a need to balance the interests of the business against the rights and interests of the consumer. Although not specifically itemised in GDPR, carrying out a legitimate interest assessment (LIA) will document and assess whether your choice in lawful.

An LIA has three stages and you can read more on this from the DPN:

  1. Identify a Legitimate Interest
  2. Carry out a Necessity Test
  3. Carry out a Balancing Test 

Privacy notice

Any Controller wishing to rely on legitimate interest must inform individuals (via a privacy notice) that it is processing personal data on this basis, what the legitimate interests are, and also notify individuals of their right to object. You may decide to reassure your customers that you’re making changes in line with GDPR, directing them to your updated privacy policy.

At the end of the day, it’s not about finding loopholes or meeting the bare minimum to skirt penalties. Whilst the non-compliance sanctions are potentially huge, the ICO commissioner makes it clear GDPR’s purpose is not to threaten the marketing profession but to give greater control to the individual, and part of that is being a responsible marketer.

James Monkman, Head of Partnerships & Compliance at Omnis Data, agrees. “GDPR is about common sense and looking after the consumer. That means transparency, protecting consumer information and being prepared for the changes afoot.”

We all know that engaged customers who want to hear about your products and services are the ones to nurture and respect with compelling marketing. And when they don’t want to hear anymore, allow them to walk away… leaving the door open.

Our GDPR check list will give you an indication of how prepared you are for the changes. If you need help with creating compelling direct marketing campaigns, or a database cleanse, get in touch.


*GDPR and You research from the DMA