What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of requirements for organisations in EU countries that hold and/or use personal information. It comes into effect in May 2018 – giving companies time to adapt to the new rules. Crucially, it will apply to companies in the UK, and indications are that long after Brexit, the UK will probably continue to apply it or something very similar. It is a replacement to a 1998 regulation – the Data Protection Act – and is designed to both update the law to take into consideration new forms of data collection and manipulation, and to enhance the rights of consumers in regard to controlling the use of their personal information.
May 25, 2018 will see the new regulatory framework take effect – and it offers all of us the greatest opportunity for business transformation in a generation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is about the need to place people at the heart of everything we do – and echoes our commitment to a code that enshrines five key principles which marketers should follow:

• Put your customer first
• Respect privacy and meet your customers’ expectations
• Be honest, be fair, be transparent
• Exercise diligence with data
• Take responsibility, be accountable.

Can we carry on writing to our customers or do we need consent by May 2018?

So let's start with the impact of GDPR on sending direct mail to your customers.

Keep calm and carry on sending mail? In essence, yes.

The key thing to realise is that you can either continue – or start – to talk to customers by mail without any problem.


Communicating to customers by mail – whether sending a marketing promotion or an account statement – is designated in law as being in the 'legitimate interest' of the company and customer.

The GDPR is fundamentally about how data is collected and used. The core principle – that consumers have the right to be in control of their personal information - covers all types of marketing activity. This means you don’t have to go out and get their permission unless they have specifically asked to be removed from marketing communications. You will still need to offer customers the opportunity to opt out of marketing mail, and will need to provide complete transparency about how you intend to use their information to fulfil both the letter and the spirit of the law.