If you are reading this article, you have probably understood that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes several constraints for customer acquisition in France. In the consumer domain (or B2C) it is quite draconian with few openings. But what about in the field of B2B prospecting towards professionals or companies which is rather my field of expertise? How to accelerate your growth while complying with the law (GDPR)?
First of all, I reassure you, in France, the law allows commercial prospecting, including without prior explicit consent towards companies and professionals. Customer acquisition in France towards professionals or companies for products or services that they may need for the exercise of their profession is absolutely allowed. Concretely, it is possible to offer for example to a plumbing company telephone subscriptions or tools, but not energy renovations or investments in Bitcoin …
BUT, what rules apply (under penalty of sanction from the CNIL)?
- The person contacted must be able to oppose (opt-out) from the first contact and thereafter at any time within your commercial prospecting process.
- This opposition is respected.
- It must be simple, clear, and immediate (forget the registered letter and the deletion of the address after a long time).
- The opposition must be free of charge and without any compensation.
When it comes to generic email addresses (such as “firstname.lastname@example.org”) as these are not personal addresses, GDPR rules do not apply, and therefore you have much more freedom for commercial prospecting.
How to create a file of email addresses for GDPR cocompliant customer acquisition in France?
Here are the possible methods, in order of preference or legal certainty:
The best solution according to lawyers is the direct collection of addresses for example during trade shows or meetings with prospects. It is clear that this is the “lawyers’ solution” (do not blame me please), because it is not very practicable. Even outside the Covid-19 period, this method probably makes it possible to collect some addresses of people who are quite motivated, but probably not massively, and at a fairly high cost for a limited scope.
The 2. best method is the collection of addresses by yourself, for example on your website. In this case, of course all the rules mentioned above apply. In addition, you must perfectly explain in understandable and clear language the use you are going to make of the data collected (and respect it) and explicitly ask for the consent of the person.
The 3. method on the list is the collection on websites of addresses (LinkedIn, blogs,…), which must also comply with the above rules, including the opt-out as of the very first message that you are going to send.
The 4. method is the purchase of prospecting files from “data brokers”. In this case, read carefully in what context the data was collected and for what purpose. Ideally, you need a “peaceful enjoyment” clause, so you can use them as you wish. Of course, also by using this method, you respect all the rules listed.
The 5. possible method (but not recommended, or even prohibited) is “scapping” (a somewhat technical and automatic method of “downloading” data from a site en masse on websites for example LinkedIn). It is indeed not recommended, has recently been sanctioned by the CNIL and is clearly prohibited by LinkedIn’s CGVs.
If you are interested to get some help for your customer acquisition in France in order to grow your revenues in France, please have a look at my detailed LinkedIn profile, and don’t hesitate to contact me!
PS: I can work depending on your needs in French, English or German
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