GDPR Marketing Campaigns – Refer-a-Friend

Is your marketing referral scheme lawful under GDPR and PECR data protection laws?

Refer-a-Friend, Member-get-Member and Customer-get-Customer schemes can be a great way to grow your business.

But most of the ICO’s data protection fines are because of unlawful marketing, and often costs those businesses £100k to £250k.

Just a cost of doing business?

Or, if you take the right approach, and you can put that money to better use!

What are Refer-a-Friend Marketing Schemes

Let’s start by explaining what we mean by refer-a-friend and member-get-member marketing schemes.

Your business hopefully has lots of happy employees and happy customers.

All of those employees and customers might be telling other people about how great your company is, and turning those strangers into prospects.

So, you need to make sure those strangers start talking to you.

This can be done with incentivation schemes.

If you offer your employees and customers an incentive – a special treat, cashback, bonus points, etc – to refer those people back to your business, you can turn those people into customers. They’re hot leads, already impressed with what you’re do, so they’re the perfect people and the perfect time!

But you also don’t want employees and customers going round upsetting lots of people, by constantly trying to get them to sign up to your business.

That’s why data protection laws get a bit funny about this activity.

There are ways to do it lawfully, and ways to risk getting fined.

Let’s find out how.

If you’re looking for more information, join our GDPR for Marketing Professionals training course, where will be covering topics like this in more detail.

Non Compliant Marketing Referral Schemes

The main problem is that, if you recruit people to do your marketing, they could be seen as part of your marketing team.

If you’re doing marketing, all the GDPR and PECR obligations (consent, soft-opt-in, corporate subscriber, TPS, etc) might start to kick in.

We’re sure your marketing team is already managed through policies, training, guidance, processes, systems, assurance, etc, etc.

You probably don’t want to do that with all your employees and all your customers.

So, there is a way that you can engage those people to do your marketing, without making them part of your marketing team!

Compliant Marketing Referral Schemes

This may seem a little strange, but it’s what the ICO – the UK regulator – says…

If you gave your employees or customers an email template for their referrals, then it counts as your marketing. Your marketing obligations apply.

However, if you just give them a referral code and say they will be rewarded for referrals, then it is their marketing.

So, as long as you don’t tell them exactly what to do (which sounds like a far bigger privacy risk to us…), they can refer as much as they want.

They can even refer to people that you can’t, whether it’s because they haven’t consented or because they opted out.

A little crazy, but that’s often how data protection law works…

Of course, we always recommend adding some controls, like T&C or compliance guidance, to help prevent them from upsetting people with your business name.

But, you can do refer-a-friend marketing schemes in a GDPR/PECR compliant manner, and you can reach places your other marketing campaigns can’t lawfully reach!

Learn More about GDPR Compliance Refer-a-friend marketing

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