Monday, 22 January 2018


As I previously stated in the last issue of the Taste Swansea magazine, "My raison d’ĂȘtre is as much to help grow local restaurant businesses, and especially those smaller, family-run eateries, as it is to bring to the foodie public a good culinary read." With that in mind I feel it's important that restaurants and cafes are made aware of the following changes to the Data Protection Act which come into force in May 2018, thereby potentially curtailing their marketing activity! Should you ignore the changes, breach them and be reported (and sadly, yes there are such people who will report such deliberately whether or not it was an accidental breach), then the penalties are very harsh. The penalties are purported to be £25,000 or 4% of your turnover.

New Data Protection Laws
Under the current Data Protection Directive within in UK, it allows a “soft” opt-in approach for anyone or any business establishing a database i.e. telephone numbers or email addresses etc, generally to be used for marketing purposes. The current "soft" opt-in data collection regulations allows data to be collected from communication with customers, tradeshow meets, business card exchanges, a checkbox for signing up to communications from a company, table bookings, and thereby allow organisations to market to this data.

May 2018 will see the introduction of new legislation forcing businesses to have to collect data by way of, "double opt-in". Not only that but if approached by the authorities one has to be able to prove the source of the double opt-in. In order to sign up for communications, prospects/customers will have to fill out a form or tick a box and then confirm it was their actions in a further email.

Why Does This Matter To Restaurants?
I can just hear many of you saying, "Oh well, I won't bother with all that, it doesn't (or won't) affect me!" or "Well I use Facebook to promote my business!"

Let me put this into perspective. Firstly, a lesson regarding Facebook versus Email Marketing. Research indicates that on average a post on a Facebook business page reaches only 6% of its intended audience. (Source: Hubspot marketing USA 2016). In comparison, an email marketing campaign will be read by an average of 34% of recipients...for the food and drink sector slightly less. From experience my clients can achieve anything up to 52% 'read' by email recipients. So let's take a practical example 100 likes on your Facebook page v 100 customers in your database - your Facebook post reaches 6 people, versus an email which is read by 34 people. Of course you can 'pay' Facebook to boost your post (there are other free ways to reach more people but.... read on) but I truly wouldn't trust them to send your post to those to whom would attend your restaurant. From experience Facebook's claims are wholly inaccurate and should be challenged by trading standards. Here is a typical example:

My client is based in Mojacar, southern Spain. Mojacar is a resort with a population of, give or take, 6,400 people. The city is 90 kms away, and has a population of approx 190,000 people so it doesn't enter the 45 kms range the advert projects. The entire province is approx 200 kms from top to bottom and not very wide. Fact: there aren't 510,000 people residing within a 45 kms radius of Mojacar (especially as it is a beach resort and much of that radius is Mediterranean sea) There are 704,000 population in the entire province, and the main conurbations within the 45 kms area total a population of a mere 56,630, and many old folk Spanish will not be using the internet let alone Facebook! So unless Facebook have included the many thousands of goats on the hillsides or the fish in the sea, it's difficult to see how they justify 510,000 'people' reach!

Add to the above, that Facebook have recently announced that priority now will be given to posts from friends and family over and above those from businesses. So your current 6% reach is likely to diminish, unless of course you pay to have your business post boosted! Facebook is a third party platform. Most table booking systems are third party platforms from which you cannot always access the database of your customers. If Facebook is going this route, then you can bet that others will also go this route in time. The very best solution therefore is 'double opt-in' databases which come under your complete control via your own website but you only have until May to convert your current database if they are not currently double opt-in. Taste Swansea can advise on this for free!

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