GDPR, Return Path, & The DMA: Vital to Have a Strong Trade Association Voice

Posted by Guy Hanson on

Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) regulations come into effect at the end of May. These changes to the governance of data will have far-reaching consequences for EU businesses. For marketers, in particular, this is a time like no other, when the importance of a strong trade association voice cannot be understated. Having a credible lobbyist to represent their needs and interests, as well as provide guidance and education on how to maintain legal compliance, is vital.

In the UK the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has a major role to play. Proof that the DMA is seen as a heavy hitter was provided by Elizabeth Denham (the Information Commissioner when she spoke recently at the 2018 Data Protection Conference:

“The ICO has forged a strong relationship with the DMA and it has brought your concerns and comments direct to my door. The DMA plays an important role in driving good practice with marketers – it is influential and well-connected.”

The DMA has actively influenced the evolution of the GDPR since first drafts were circulated by the EU Commission in 2011. It has also worked closely with partners in government, and across the wider marketing community throughout the draft process. Its advocacy has established vital building blocks within the GDPR that will safeguard the interests of both DMA members as well as the wider marketing community.

As part of this remit, the DMA recently launched its “GDPR for Marketers: The Essentials” report. This is one of many excellent resources the DMA has produced to help marketers prepare for GDPR. In the introduction to this document it explains the collaborative approach that produced it:

“The GDPR Editorial Board leads the content direction of the DMA’s GDPR outputs. We inform the work with expert advice and guidance from our Responsible Marketing Committee and the specially-appointed GDPR Taskforce.”

“To generate the right content for the right channels, the GDPR Editorial Board, Responsible Marketing Committee and the GDPR Taskforce work in collaboration with our Councils. This focuses our work onto the immediate needs of the marketers we serve.”

Return Path has been an active contributor to this process. We have been a DMA member for many years, and have multiple areas of involvement:

  • I currently chair the DMA’s Email Marketing Council. The council’s legal hub has been focussed exclusively on GDPR for the past 24 months and reports back to myself and the council on a monthly basis.
  • In addition to my own involvement, Audrey Ménager (Email Strategist, Professional Services) has taken up a seat on the Customer Engagement committee, while Dan Stone (Email Strategist, Professional Services) is joining the Customer Data council.
  • In the US, Dennis Dayman (Return Path’s Chief Privacy & Security Officer) is on the Data & Marketing Association, formerly the Direct Marketing Association Ethics Committee and he also chairs the Email Experience Council (EEC) which is the premier organization for email marketing professionals and the only one backed by DMA.

These bodies create much of the expert advice that shapes/guides our industry best practices. At the Data Protection conference, Robert Streeter (Data Protection & Privacy Officer, News UK) highlighted the importance of following industry codes of practice, and Chris Combemale (CEO, DMA Group) held up the recently launched Email Guide (produced by the Email Marketing council) as a leading example.

What does this mean for Return Path’s customers – how do they benefit?

  • Expert advice: Last year we put all of our client-facing London staff through the DMA/IDM’s excellent GDPR training seminar. Our team are not lawyers, but they are equipped to talk knowledgeably about this important topic.
  • Resources: The DMA has a comprehensive set of resources to support all marketers – not just members. Return Path also has a wealth of GDPR which we’ve compiled into this expert series. Our Professional Services team has collated a broad set of research, thought leadership, and best practice examples to share with our clients. We will also be joined by Rachel Aldighieri Managing director of the DMA at our upcoming London World Tour.
  • Webinars: The DMA has run an informative series of GDPR webinars, including this recent Q&A session. You can also join Dennis Dayman and me on April 17 at 2 PM BST for our upcoming webinar—The Path to GDPR: Ask the Experts from Return Path.
  • Legal Assistance: DMA members also benefit from free, indemnified and unlimited legal advice. At such an important time this important service should make signing up an absolute no-brainer!
  • Council Attendance: A limited number of guests are welcome to attend monthly council meetings. Especially if you are in London (or near to London) speak to your account manager about this great opportunity to meet with some of the finest email minds in the UK.

While the context created by our GDPR series made the DMA the natural focal point for this article, Return Path is also involved with a broad range of other highly influential industry bodies including M3AAWG, the IAPP, and the ESPC among many others. These relationships place Return Path right at the center of the global email ecosystem, and our customers benefit hugely as a result. Learn more about the many roles Return Path plays here.


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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.

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