Better Email Marketing Post-GDPR

Posted in Talks, Posted in Digital Marketing by Steven Mitchell

Email marketing pioneer Stafford Sumner prowled the spotlit Digital Gaggle stage; his shoulders broad, eyes wide, and fervent with determination. GDPR may have thinned the great herds that once roamed these plains, but as inboxes around Europe run dry - Stafford insists that there is still plenty of opportunity out there, provided you know where to look. The lists you lost were all string and sinew. You were probably marketing to ghosts anyway.

Stafford is the founder and CEO of Jarrang – one of the UK’s leading independent email marketing agencies. You can find his Digital Gaggle slide deck here.

Here is what I took away from Stafford’s talk:

  • For growth and retention, email marketing is the digital channel with the highest return on investment and has been for the past ten years (according to Venturebeat).
  • There has been an average 50% reduction of marketing email databases since GDPR came into effect on May 25th.
  • GDPR was the subject of a lot of misinformation and panic, and many businesses mishandled the GDPR deadline, sending out unnecessary GDPR consent emails that got lost in the noise.
  • More emails were sent out on the 24th May than during the e-commerce hurricane known as Black Friday, so much so that even customers still interested in receiving your comms probably missed them in amongst the torrent of slimy corporate waffle.
  • Yet, what’s done is done and however you handled the cruel and austere transition into actually respecting your customer’s privacy and private data, Stafford encourages you to see May 25th as an exciting new beginning.
  • GDPR means smaller databases, yes, but the nature of consent means these databases are inherently more engaged. They mean you’ll have more, better conversations with smaller group of customers. You can build deeper relationships, segmented and targeted to be more relevant and more personal than before.

How to handle compliance going forward

Make fundamental changes – don’t just treat GDPR as a box ticking exercise like a sullen teenager, engage with the spirit and the principles behind GDPR and embed them into your business processes.

This will probably mean fundamentally rethinking and rewriting your Privacy Policy and ensuring it is easily accessible and widely referenced within your online presence.

Avoid pointless and mindless reconsent emails. This will cause unnecessary damage to your precious databases. If you’ve truly engaged with the principles behind GDPR, you will know when it is or isn’t appropriate to do something like a reconsent email blast and potentially save yourself losing the ears of a lot of genuinely interested customers.

Compliance and rebuilding that database... - an excerpt from Stafford Sumner's slides

A slide from Stafford's presentation

Again, if you are properly upholding GDPR values, you will know to be transparent with your customers about what data you need, why you need it, what you’re going to use it for, how long you’re going to keep it, who it will be shared with. You’ll have protocols in place to suppress non-compliant or unsubscribed contacts and have a master list for affirming consent.

This is in everyone’s interest – non-compliance isn’t just a legal wrangle, it’s a sign of a lack of respect for your customers and this will bleed through into your relationship with them.

In most cases you can probably continue to market to past customers without additional consent – check your Ts & Cs and if it feels scummy, it probably is.

Gather consent via a clear and positive action and don’t be shady (like prefilling the tickboxes – don’t be a McAfee toolbar). Don’t try and blag consent from one marketing activity into another – putting competition entries into the general subscriber pool, for example.

Stafford's top tips for email marketing in a post GDPR world:

  1. It all starts with data – get the foundations right
  2. Have a knock-out subject line – remember the preheader
  3. Have a purpose – be clear about why you are sending this email
  4. Keep it simple – short emails, straight to the point
  5. Have a powerful Call to Action – tell readers what you want them to do!
  6. Optimise your landing page – capture the clickers
  7. Design and build for multiple devices
  8. Know when to send – look at the stats
  9. Test, test, test – measure twice, cut once
  10. Measure the results and refine – give them what they want
  11. Audit your data – jettison the junk
  12. Use animated images and engaging functionality to stand out from the crowd in the inbox
  13. Use your data to serve up relevant content to different segments
  14. Use marketing automation and trigger based journeys to connect with your customers
  15. Download useful stuff from jarrang.com/downloads 

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Ste likes to mess about with the techie side of SEO. As such his blogs are mainly about SEO or rants about bad web development practice.

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