Guest post by Stuart Cooke.
The vast majority of all businesses, including 93% of B2B companies, use email marketing as an integral part of their marketing strategy. Over the years this has remained one of the most effective channels to engage customers and generate sales leads.
That said, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation that came into effect back in May 2018 has meant some big changes to email marketing and how businesses contacted potential and existing customers.
Though the law was passed by the European Union to protect the data of citizens living in EU countries, because of the global nature of the Internet. it actually applies to almost every organization doing business online.
If you use email campaigns as part of your business strategy, you should by now have at least a basic understanding of what GDPR means. Perhaps you’ve already had to revisit your email lists and verify permission from recipients who’d already signed up to your services.
However, if you’re new to email marketing or haven’t yet taken steps to make sure your campaigns are in compliance with the law, there are several things you need to be aware of when planning your email marketing programs.
This post details how GDPR can be beneficial for email campaigns, as well as how it can impact your marketing efforts. It looks at five key considerations to ensure you’re GDPR compliant and using your email marketing strategy to the best of your ability.
How can GDPR be good for email marketing campaigns?
When the legislation was proposed and businesses became aware they needed to make big changes to comply with GDPR, many thought this would hurt their marketing efforts. After all, getting re-requesting permission could reduce the size of your mailing lists and make individuals more aware of their right to opt-out of receiving marketing communications.
But while this may have been the case in the short term, GDPR can be really beneficial for your email marketing campaigns.
How? By ensuring that everyone signing up to your email list wants to receive your communications, the list may not be as large, but your campaigns are more likely to convert to sales.
Similarly, allowing people to opt-out means you won’t be sending out thousands of emails that are simply going to be ignored or sent straight to the spam folder. All in all, it gives your business a much more targeted approach that is likely to produce better conversion rates.
What does your email marketing service offer?
Before you begin stressing over GDPR, there is one very simple step you can take. Check out what services your email marketing provider offers. In the wake of the new legislation, many businesses have begun putting platforms and email marketing tools in place to assist with GDPR compliance.
For example, MailChimp introduced a GDPR consent collection form and instructions on how to use it. This makes remaining compliant much easier for your business. If your provider doesn’t offer any extras like this, you might want to consider switching to a new platform.
How are you collecting permissions?
Obtaining consent is one of the most critical aspects of GDPR. According to guidelines, consent must be “freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.” This means that your opt-in or sign-up forms need to clearly state what data you are collecting, why you are collecting it, and how it will be used.
It also means you can’t use any underhanded tactics like pre-checked boxes. This is against the law and can land you in a lot of trouble.
So, to ensure you’re compliant and making the most of your website, you could choose to have pop-up opt-in forms on specific pages or a sign-up box at the top/bottom of every page. Whatever you choose to do, it is also beneficial to create a document outlining how you comply with GDPR and how you ensure all data is safe and secure.
Giving customers the option to click through and read this information can give them more confidence in your business and therefore make them more comfortable signing up. It also helps to build your reputation, and shows you work hard to follow new legislation.
How are you handling opt-outs?
To remain GDPR compliant, email subscribers must be allowed to opt-out of receiving your communications at any time. This means there must be a clear and simple way for them to withdraw their consent.
It is best to add a simple unsubscribe button at the bottom of all emails and don’t make them jump through hoops to get out. A simple opt-out option is ideal for both compliance and brand reputation.
How are you managing your data?
Another huge part of GDPR is minimizing the amount of data collected and stored by your business. What this means is that you shouldn’t ask for any information you don’t absolutely need, or store any sensitive information any longer than necessary.
For example, if you only plan to send your subscribers emails and you’d like to personalize these, then simply ask for their name and email address. That’s it.
As part of this process, it pays to review your email marketing lists regularly and ensure you’ve got the most effective systems in place to protect all the sensitive data you do collect. If you choose to split your customers out into different lists in order to send them targeted campaigns, you need to make sure the data is moved and stored safely.
GDPR considerations for your email marketing
That’s a lot to take in, which is why it is best to keep your efforts as simple as possible when it comes to email marketing. Only collect and store necessary information and make sure that your opt-in forms are clear and easy to understand.
On a similar note, always make sure you offer a visible and simple unsubscribe option in your emails. The simpler your systems, the better and more effectively you can create and run your email marketing campaigns.
Stuart Cooke is Blog Editor at Evalian.co.uk, data protection and cybersecurity training providers across the UK and Ireland. They urge all of their clients to take data protection laws into account when implementing their email marketing strategies.