GDPR-mageddon (TM)

Buckle up, buckaroos, this is gonna be a long one.

We begin our blog post today with that loveliest of disclaimers, the WE ARE NOT LAWYERS disclaimer: We are not lawyers, and this should not be taken as legal advice. Should you need legal advice, please consult a legal professional and do not rely on this (or any!) blog post or person on the internet.

On to the post (which you are not taking as legal advice)!

We’ve heard from a lot of you (like, A LOT, a lot of you) as you gear up for the May 25th, 2018 GDPRocalypse (TM). And, we understand. There is a lot of information out there and some of it is downright scary. €20 million fines! Shouty armchair lawyers all over Facebook and K-boards! Cats and dogs, living together!

Some of you might even be asking yourself, “What are they talking about? What is GDPR and what does that even mean?” Let’s back up a second. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation on data protection and privacy for all people living in the European Union (EU). It aims to give EU residents control over their personal data and how it can be collected and processed.

Depending on who you’ve been reading, it could be the end of the world, or it could be nothing at all. While we can’t address all of your concerns about the GDPR, we want to talk about ways we are making your life a little easier. If you need more information on what GDPR is and how it applies to you, look here, here, and here.

As it pertains to BookFunnel, we’ve pushed Part Two of our GDPR update (read about Part One here), and we’ve built some handy tools to help you through this transition.

What’s new?

Gimme your privacy policy

You can now edit your pen names and add a separate privacy policy URL for each of your names. If you provide us with a privacy policy, we will link to it when a reader is signing up for your list. Simple. Learn how to add your privacy policy to your BookFunnel pages.

Consent consent consent!

The big concern for authors is this idea of consent. What is required to gain the reader’s consent, and how do we get it? What is a reader consenting to on a BookFunnel giveaway page?

A reader is agreeing to join your email newsletter. That’s it. They can be required to join your newsletter if they want the free book, or they can optionally choose to join your newsletter (but still get the free book). They cannot agree to other forms of marketing (like direct mail or phone calls) or opt-in to third-party mailing lists. We tweaked the consent checkbox wording to be more explicit, and also added a note to the reader that they can unsubscribe at any time.

The bigger question most of you have is whether or not you can require a reader to sign up to your list before receiving a free book. Is consent “freely given” if it is mandatory? We’re not lawyers, but the lawyers we’ve spoken to seem to agree that you can incentivize joining your list, but it can’t be too strong an incentive. Which sounds like semantics, but that’s the law for you. We’ll come back to this in the settings below.

New custom variables

Fun fact: About 9% of all BookFunnel traffic comes from readers in the European Union. Would you like to know where your readers are coming from? You got it!

We have added three new custom variables: {{country}}, {{country_code}} (a two-digit country code) and {{eu_country}} (which is a simple YES or NO if the reader is in an EU country; handy, right?!). BookFunnel will include these three bits of data in the CSVs you export with new readers, and you can use that data when importing back into your mailing list service and decide how to handle your readers.

You can also include these values in custom metadata when passing readers to an integrated mailing list. We’re working on a few new features that will make this easier to do at a global level as well.

New button text options

We’ve also added a few button text options so that you can customize your giveaway pages even more. New options emphasize your newsletter or use more generic language like “Get my gift”. Learn how to edit your pages and select new button text.

GDPR Settings

Now we get to the meat of it. We’ve heard from a lot of you who are just in a panic over this stuff. You’ve read every blog post and Facebook comment about compliance and consent and data processing, and you’ve listened to all of the podcasts and webinars, and you are just. over. it. Some experts (linked at the top of this post) say that reader magnets are fine but someone on the internet said otherwise. Who should you believe?

The biggest arguments stem from this idea of “freely given” consent and what is allowed. As we mentioned above, everyone has an opinion on this (*see below for our opinion on opinions) but until it is tested, nobody really knows exactly what is permissible and what isn’t yet. You will need to decide what changes (if any) you need to make in order to be compliant and then you can use these new easy options on the BookFunnel dashboard to manage your giveaway pages…

Option #1: Don’t do anything.

If you’ve read the regulation and determined that your opt-in pages are compliant, leave them alone! Check the box on the Settings page to leave your mandatory opt-in pages exactly as you designed them. What settings am I referring to? Read on…

Option #2: Use optional giveaways that don’t require a reader to sign up to get your free book.

We added this option back in March, and you can control this on a page-by-page basis. You can edit all of your giveaway pages to make them optional and readers can choose to subscribe to your list or not.

Doing this seems to be universally accepted as A-OK. The reader can get your book, and they have the option to join your list if they like, but they’re not required to do so. But, we’ve heard our authors loud and clear, and this is not what you really want.

So, on to…

Option #3: Make all of your Giveaways optional only for EU residents.

We’ve added a global setting that gives you control over your BookFunnel world. Specifically, you can decide how you want to handle EU residents.

Click Settings from the navigation bar, and you’ll see a new setting for dealing with EU readers. Check the box to magically convert your mandatory opt-in giveaway pages to optional if the reader is in the EU, and done. Readers inside the EU will be given the option to join your list but can still receive the book without joining. Readers outside of the EU will still be required to join your list in exchange for the book.

Option #4: Change the text on your pages for EU readers to emphasize the newsletter over the free book

The advice from experts steeped in this stuff seems to say that incentivizing readers to join your list is fine and within the bounds of the GDPR, but be cautious so that the incentive isn’t too good or too strong.

Ok… so how to use a reader magnet without overselling your reader magnet? Instead of “GET THIS FREE FREE FREE BOOK and you’ll be added to my newsletter“, use “JOIN MY LIST and you’ll enjoy so many wonderful benefits, including a welcome gift after joining.”

With this option, BookFunnel replaces all of your original landing page’s text with newsletter-centric language without pushing the free book. The language we’ve chosen for this option is fixed and cannot be customized.

This will only apply to readers from the EU. Your mandatory landing page will remain the same for the 90% of readers who are not in the EU. Any page that is already optional will not be affected by this setting.

Option #5: Block readers from the EU from my giveaways.

Though less than 9% of the traffic coming through BookFunnel is from EU countries, this should still be a last (or temporary) resort. But, we understand that some of you are still figuring all this stuff out, and you’re scared, and you don’t want to get in trouble.

So, we’ve added the option to block EU residents from your mandatory opt-in giveaway pages. This only applies to giveaways that are required (meaning not optional).

This is a good option if you’re still working on your mailing list process, and you need time after the May 25th deadline to get everything in order. You can temporarily block EU readers while you’re getting your house in order. You can even provide a little message to send them to another part of your site or another signup form if you wish.

Ready to update your BookFunnel settings? This knowledge base article will walk you through it.

It’s entirely up to you how you want to handle your readers. We’re giving you the tools to do the job. We know you have more questions, and we’ve answered many of them in our knowledge base article on the GDPR. As the regulation is defined, we will continue to adjust our tools and keep you updated. Follow our blog to keep up with the changes.


*Opinions are like donuts and everyone loves them