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GDPR | 4 min read

Why GDPR Isn’t the End of Email Marketing: Smart Ways to Adapt

16 January 2018 Written by Alexander Costello

Email is the bread and butter of every marketing strategy. It provides the basis for you to advertise your brand and services, interact with leads and customers, and share information.

Thought email was dying out though? Email is only going to get bigger – in fact 75% of marketers say they use email marketing more now than they did three years ago.

Like all great things though, email is under-appreciated and often not given the attention it needs to thrive. Think about the last time you got an email from some unknown company about a product: did you open it? I’ll bet you didn’t, and the reason why is that we all want communications that are personal to us, not an automated message sent to hundreds of other people.

Worse, these automated email strategies are not adaptable. Since the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is on the horizon (25th May 2018), this can spell panic for businesses without a clear and proper email marketing framework.

Don’t worry though, you can still communicate effectively with GDPR email marketing. Here’s why...

The History of Email is Defined By Its Ability to Rise to New Changes

The first email was sent in 1971 – that’s 47 years ago! – and it didn’t become this popular without having to embrace new innovations. In the last decade, email marketing has been completely redefined by smartphones, with 48% of emails being opened on mobile devices.

When a user reads an email on their phone that is not optimised for it, the majority of the time it is deleted. With this in mind, businesses had to change their processes to ensure their emails were still successful.

GDPR is no different. The alterations to data protection laws in the EU will force businesses to learn more about their customers’ needs. This lends itself perfectly to inbound marketing, which nurtures leads through to customers by providing marketing material that is valuable to them. In this way, Inbound can get you GDPR compliant, while also optimising your emails you lead conversion.

Pro Tip: Your Website and Policies need to be GDPR compliant. Not sure where to start? Try our complete GDPR Guide for Businesses; a marketing favourite.

Stricter Consent Isn’t All Bad

The first step to making your email marketing GDPR compliant is understanding consent and how it’s changing. Under the Data Protection Act, rolled out in 1998, businesses could play fast and loose with consent and harvest huge email contact databases with which they could advertise products and services out of the blue.

GDPR puts a stop to that, protecting people from unwanted spam with stricter rules around consent. This means that businesses will have to be much more transparent when asking for permission to contact people, clearly stating what a person will be emailed about and for what purpose.

Adapting your current approach to ensure you are receiving ‘explicit consent’ starts with mapping out how you currently collect data and from where. Once you know where it comes from you can begin to systematically ensure you are GDPR compliant.

Sounds like a pain? Well, the upside is that combining these stricter rules and the ICO’s recommendation to seek individual consent for each individual way data is used helps you learn more about your customers and create more targeted email campaigns. In turn, these will convert more leads into customers.

Your Leads Will Want to Hear From You

We’ve already spoken a little about how changes to consent will help you send more valuable emails, but it goes further than that. Your leads will actually want to hear from you.

Can you imagine that? A database of leads that are waiting for you to email them.

That’s because, alongside being more transparent, consent will require a positive opt-in, meaning users will have to actively give their consent. This means no more pre-ticked boxes to be added to mailing lists or any other default method of consent.

As a result, instead of people feeling confused – or even that they have been tricked – when they receive an email, they will welcome the email and begin to build trust. And it’s this trust that can enhance your reputation as a business.

You Will Become a Master Record Keeper

Once you’ve started to gather individual consents for each way you wish to use a person’s data it is time to start storing. As part of GDPR you must report any data breaches that risk a person's rights or freedoms to the relevant supervisory authority, therefore, ensuring you can easily find and access your data is essential.

If your business does not already have a system and guideline to govern the storage of data, creating a single one will help you avoid having your data spread across multiple locations and programmes.

In this way, if you ever do have to demonstrate GDPR compliance, you have a clear source of evidence that you are following best practice and protecting the information of your customers or service users.

Importantly, reviewing your records will help you identify what data you have collected without a positive opt-in, and help you start to gather informed consent as per the regulations. Without this consent, data cannot be used legally and could lead to fines of up to €20 million or 4% of your business’ annual turnover.

GDPR certainly isn’t the end of email marketing, and can actually provide the push every business needs to create a responsive, valuable email marketing strategy that will engage leads and delight customers.

Taking your next step to email and GDPR bliss could not be easier either. Our free GDPR Guide for Businesses provides everything you need to know about how the legislation will affect your business.

Alternatively, if you want to learn more about how a tailored inbound strategy can transform your email marketing, contact one of our team to book a consultation.

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