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Five Ways to Mitigate Data Loss

consumer data privacy risk diversification Mar 01, 2023

As I have more conversations with organizations who serve a constituent base located in the European Union -- and therefore already saw through the 2016 adoption of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) -- I both get more stressed out and more inspired by their resilience to change. And that's speaking as a person who stares at this stuff daily. 

Coming out of these conversations, two things stand out most to me:

  • Many organizations say they lost about half of their email list when they had to re-confirm consent following GDPR adoption. That's a lot. They also lost huge portions of their identifiable advertising audience because of their inability to share constituent information with third parties.
  • This loss occurred despite the fact that organizations had two years -- between GDPR's adoption in 2016 and its enforcement in 2018 -- to adapt. (Four years if you count the fact that the European Parliament approved its own regulation in 2014 and six years if you look back to 2012, when regulation was first introduced for consideration. It was a lot of time.)

What we know with respect to the U.S. is that twenty-two states are considering data privacy legislation, five have adopted it, and there is a federal bill pending to provide a country-wide framework.

That said, I'd say it's time to start taking this as writing on the wall. Test these tactics to get ahead of planning now:

  • Know that now is NOT the time to cut your acquisition budget. Despite what the economy looks like, it's important to bear in mind that we do still have time before federal regulation is in place. We should seek to diversify and try new channels, while taking what's working and available to the max right now. Bring on new donors now that you can focus on upgrading and retaining later.
  • Give your audience the chance to confirm they want to be on your email list now. This doesn't mean you have to hit everyone with a generic double opt-in after they sign up for email. It does mean you can think creatively about ways to have them confirm that, yes, they're still interested and engaged. Flex your comms strategy to do that now, while you can roll it in waves rather than in one swoop later, which could hit your sender credibility. Will you lose some of your email list? Yes. Is this portion of your email list likely to be dead weight anyway? Also yes.
  • Build your rapid response plan. Both Germany and the Netherlands determined that an online conversion such as a purchase or a donation qualified as consent for contact (meaning, those audiences could be contacted subsequently via email without double opting in). That said, the case for mobilizing your efforts during emergencies is stronger than it was. Because we know that emergency donors are less likely to retain, treat those donors like you would leads and consider a custom treatment for them so you can re-build your consented file and maximize ROI. You'll also want to close the gaps between your press/media team and your advertising team so earned and paid media can work hand-in-hand during key moments.
  • Test your cookie opt-in options now. You're going to lose data by implementing cookie opt-in banners. This is reality. However, if you implement your banner now, you can also test it now and quantify what that loss will look like. There are options for guiding audiences to understand why opting in is useful and to encourage them to do that. Get a handle on that now rather than when you don't have a choice later.
  • Append your file to better understand who is on it. Gain all of the insights you can about your audience today while you can.

If we wait too long, things will hurt. We don't need to wonder -- history already tells us that's true.


When you're ready, here's how I can help you with your diversification strategy:

>> Book 1:1 help to formulate your action plan or discuss a strategic objective.

>> Contact me about ongoing support with financial projections, board relationships, blended investment planning, and more.


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