GDPR General Data Protection Regulation and Other Changes in 2018 Small Businesses Need to Know About
There is a lot of change happening in 2018, such as, GDPR, Net Neutrality, Making Tax Digital, changes in social media platforms, and organic search results.
Whether you are self-employed or a large corporation these changes will impact you.
So, here is a run down of what to expect this year...
1. GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation
From May 2018 you need to have consent from a consumer or potential consumer to contact them, if you can't prove you have consent you will not be able to market or sell to them.
Current consent may not be enough - right now you should be reviewing how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes.
Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. There must be a positive opt-in. Consent cannot be inferred from silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity. It must also be separate from other terms and conditions, and you will need to have a simple way for people to withdraw consent. Consent has to be verifiable and individuals generally have more rights where you rely on consent to process their data.
Any consumers data you store has to be up to date and correct, any businesses who sell on consumers details will be responsible for updating their buyer every time these details change.
If you do not have proof of consent, as of May 2018 you can no longer contact consumers in your current mailing list.
What you need to start doing now is review your mailing list to ensure you have the correct consent (pre-ticked boxes and inactivity are not acceptable). Contact people on your mailing list before May 2018 to request their consent to contact them in the future.
2. Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular services or websites.
This changed in America at the end of 2017, and the impact is going to be felt through out 2018.
You can bet the UK is going to feel this pain as well.
The change will enable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to speed up or slow down different companies data and charge consumers according to the services they access.
Burger King Spell It Out Perfectly - well worth a watch it you want to understand how changes to Net Neutrality will impact on your life.
3.HMRC Making Tax Digital
From April 2018 nearly everyone will be expected to keep their tax affairs digitally and report digitally to HMRC on a quarterly basis, instead of reporting once at the end of the tax year.
This will apply to unincorporated businesses, landlords and self-employed people with turnovers over the VAT threshold.
Smaller businesses will not be required to use the system, although you can choose to do so voluntarily.
Making tax digital is a key part of the governments plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs - meaning the end of the annual tax return for millions.
The smallest of businesses may remain exempt from having to do self assessment digitally, but keep an eye on the HMRC website, as the next wave of changes is expected to happen in April 2019.
You can find out more here.
4. Increased Internet Costs
As discussed above, net neutrality could see increased bandwidth charges.
Google also want business websites to be secure to 'prove you're a real business', the way they are forcing businesses to do this is by giving preference to secure websites in their organic search results. This means you will need to buy an SSL certificate for your website.
Google is also giving less space to organic search.
The organic search results refers 20% more consumers to a website than PPC. SEO is also cheaper than PPC, but unlike PPC, SEO doesn't produce a revenue stream for Google. Maybe this is why they are giving less space to the organic search section. A tipping point is being reached where companies will have to pay for PPC as part of their marketing efforts, as well as carrying out SEO.
5. Twitter & LinkedIn
Links you place in either social media platform will not be as visible.
Facebook have already made this move. They want people to stay on their website and not go off elsewhere.
If you currently use social media to help drive people to your website, you are going to have to reconsider how you use social media and how you will continue to sell to your customers.
One option will be paying to advertise within them.
6. Google and Organic Search
The amount of people clicking on your website from organic search results is likely to decrease again as Google pushes paid ads, snippets, knowledge panel and instant answers.
You or your SEO consultant are going to be working harder for longer to try and increase or maintain your consumer reach.