A lead magnet, also known as a freebie, is the valuable information that you offer to visitors of your website in exchange for their email address which you can then use for marketing purposes. The crossover with GDPR comes when you consider whether the visitor has consented freely to giving you their address, or whether it is part of a coercion tactic because it is dependent on receipt of the lead magnet.
Part of the ICO specifications say that you can’t bundle up the receipt of an email address as a condition of sending a lead magnet, as delivery is then seen as dependent on the consent particularly because such consent is not necessary for its provision.
There are ways around this as the law is open to interpretation. However, if you want to continue giving out a freebie in exchange for an email address, there is a risk that your argument for use may not be agreed with by the ICO, but there are steps you can follow that may lessen that risk.
Ways to Continue Offering Lead Magnets
The idea is that you argue that consent is indeed freely given because there is a legitimate reason for the marketing as you will be offering goods and services similar to that already requested in the lead magnet. The theory being that if the visitor to your website was interested in the freebie, they will be interested in related marketing as well, which gives you a valid reason for it to be bundled with the service of sending the freebie to them.
The ICO also say that there should be minimal privacy impact for the individual, consent should be clearly specific, informed and unambiguous, and you must immediately stop contact if the user were to withdraw their consent.
If you are keeping their email information safe and only marketing to them, the first point is covered. As far as consent is concerned, if you can specifically mention when you offer your lead magnet that by entering their email, the user will receive the freebie but will additionally receive emails about similar processes and products, then this should also be sufficient. In this way you are being very clear that they are accepting two distinct things and as it is highly likely that your emails will be useful or can solve a problem for them, it will be beneficial information and not just marketing spam. Finally, if in every email you send them you can include a clearly locatable link to unsubscribe, and remove them from your list if they select this option, the last point is also covered.
Don’t Worry – Small Businesses Will Not Be Scapegoated
Overall, you should remember that the suggestion of what to do is purely a risk assessment at this stage. The governing body, the ICO, aren’t generally out to make small businesses suffer, and this regulation is designed to curtail large businesses that use huge amounts of data and acquire it in underhand ways. A small business with a freebie to give away is unlikely to be at the sharp end of a large fine, but it is best that you try to abide by the general philosophy of the law and show a willingness to comply with the directives. If you can show that you have legitimate interests in requiring the email address, uphold the correct data protection principles and make sure you maintain good marketing practices while documenting your reasoning along the way, there is very unlikely to be an issue.