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11 June 15:21

Why GDPR Isn't The End of Email Marketing

GDPR isn’t the end of the world for email marketers. It's actually a good thing — even if you don’t realize it yet.

By Mediaplanet Creative Team
GDPR

We all know that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is good for consumers, but how does it affect email marketers?

To explore that, we first need to look at how online customers were treated in the past.

Whenever someone bought anything online or downloaded an app, they had to agree to a consent form. These forms were purposefully long and difficult to understand and few people read or even understood them.

So while customers skipped past the jargon to tick the 'agree' box and get their purchase, these documents gave companies a slew of information about them that could be used for both legitimate and illegitimate purposes.

To put it into perspective, let’s use a brick-and-mortar example:

Picture yourself walking into a shoe shop. You decide to buy a pair of new shoes and hand the cashier your credit card. But before you’re allowed to make the purchase, you’re asked to read a 30-page legal document. You sign it without reading it and go about your business.

Little do you know, you’ve just given the shop permission to follow your every step and purchase for eternity. How would you feel?

It sounds crazy when it’s for a pair of shoes at an offline store, right? Well, it’s also crazy online.

The GDPR is good for consumers

But the GDPR offers a saner solution to data collection, one based around data sovereignty. It lets consumers maintain their privacy and it keeps their data out of the hands of shady operators.

But it doesn’t mean that data collection is going away. And as it turns out, most consumers don’t have a problem with brands using their data if you’re clear about what you’re doing with it and you make it easy for them to opt out. 

Email marketers aren't the target

When you look past your fear of change, the GDPR isn’t focused on email marketing. It’s about data privacy and fair use. It states that, for a company to process someone’s personal data, there need to be “legitimate interests.” Which means that any data collected should be processed in the interest of the person that data is about or it should be used for legitimate business purposes.

If you’re delivering pizzas, you have a legitimate need to keep your customers’ payment information, order history and address on hand. But not their health data, DNA or Facebook likes.

Active consent

Where the GDPR directly affects email marketers is obtaining consent. In the past, lazy marketers could rely on people not clicking a box to opt out of their email list. But now they have to hope that people click to opt in. And the GDPR also requires brands to make it easier for customers to opt out of email lists once they’re signed up. 

These two changes might require a little work if you haven’t already been following email marketing best practices, but they also have a couple of benefits:

The first is that instead of having an email list that contains a lot of people who are uninterested in your offerings, your list will be full of people who are.

Second, because you’ll have to work a bit harder to convince people to join your email list, you’ll have to step up your marketing game. And that means you’ll probably create better content for your subscribers and in turn get higher click-through rates and sales.

Best practice both before and after GDPR

If you’re already following email marketing best practice, life in the post-GDPR world looks pretty similar to what it did before. But if the GDPR changes look daunting to you, here are a few best practice tips that were as true before GDPR as they are now:

It’s your job to persuade people to want to hear from you. That’s what email marketing is all about. 

If you offer your subscribers something of value, if your writing is engaging and you write kick-ass subject lines, your subscribers will look forward to receiving your emails and you’ll be able to convert them into customers.

If your marketing sucks, you don’t offer your subscribers anything they want or need and your subject lines just aren't engaging, your subscribers are going to steer clear of your emails. 

It all comes down to these four golden rules:

  • Don’t trick people into signing up for your email list.
  • Don’t collect unnecessary data on people or use it for shady purposes.
  • Do make your email content and subject lines as engaging as possible.
  • Do make it easy for your subscribers to opt out of your mailing list if they want to.

You don’t need to be a lawyer to survive in the post-GDPR world. You just need to be a good marketer — which is what most of you already are.

Need help bringing your marketing up to speed amidst all these changes? Get in touch with us here at Media Planet, we'll be happy to help