The grounds around B2B marketing can sometimes seem confusing for businesses, especially following the new GDPR legislation which came into place in May 2018.
Following our previous article where we discussed using legitimate interest as grounds for processing data, we now want to delve into the PECR - an extra layer which sits alongside GDPR to give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.
Sole traders vs limited companies
Under PECR, the rules surrounding email marketing to consumers are tighter than those for limited companies, which can affect the grounds you’re able to use for making contact. Legitimate interest grounds are more likely to be relevant when email marketing to limited companies than for consumers.
For instance, if an email address is for an individual’s work email address then you may be able to use legitimate interest grounds to contact them, whereas if it is a personal email address the rules are a lot tighter and consent may be required. And under PECR, sole traders should be treated like consumers, so if your B2B audience contains a mix of sole traders and limited companies this is important!
Audit & Assess
We’d advise that you begin by having a way of distinguishing in your data the difference between sole traders and limited companies so that you’re more likely to continue to remain compliant. One solution would be to build this into your CRM as its own identifying field. Once you have these details ask yourself who your target audience is.
If your offering is more suitable to registered companies, then look at ways of flagging sole traders and removing them from your email marketing data altogether. There’s no point changing your legal grounds for data processing if sole traders are not your target audience anyway! (Of course, you may have made the decision to go down the route of consent for your B2B email marketing already for other reasons!)
When PECR works for sole traders
If, after deliberation, you’ve decided that your service or offering is suitable for sole traders and you want to continue marketing to them, then look at whether you have legal grounds to include them in your email marketing. You may do so under PECR if they’ve given specific consent, or if they have bought from you (or ‘negotiated a sale’) in the past if you are contacting them about similar products and services.
If you don’t meet the criteria above, you will need to look at ways of gathering consent from any sole traders in your database if you want to use this data. You can use legitimate interest grounds for telemarketing to both businesses and consumers (as long as you pass the balancing test) and this can therefore be used as an efficient and compliant method to gather consent for other marketing channels, such as email and SMS.
So, audit your data, assess how relevant sole traders are to your marketing and – if they are – then ensure you have the right legal grounds for emailing them!
Please note this article is intended for guidance only and is not intended as legal advice