Email Marketing and GDPR

23 Feb 2018

GDPR is the current acronym on the lips of everyone at the moment and we are getting daily enquiries asking what does it mean when using email marketing?

At Hush Digital we want to make the process as easy as possible and have a little guide to the upcoming changes you will need to implement by 25th May 2018.

Once you have all of your policies and procedures in place and have completed your data audit, you will need to work on getting your email marketing databases prepared and GDPR compliant.

What is GDPR?

A little bit of background info. GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. Still confused? Don’t worry you are not alone. To put it simply for email marketing, from 25th May you must be able to prove that the customers on your database have given their consent for you to email them.

Just getting consent to use customer data isn’t enough, you must be able to prove, with data, exactly how your customers signed up for your database and when the consent was given.

If you cannot prove that your database contains customer data that you’ve had expressed permission to use, you could end up getting a huge fine, €20,000,000 or up to 4% of your global turnover.

GDPR will affect businesses inside and outside the EU. Even if you sit outside the EU  but have a customer base inside, you will still need to conform to GDPR. Although Brexit is ever looming, GDPR will still come into play before the UK leaves the EU, so it is something your business will need to implement.

Why do you need to become compliant?

The biggest reason to become compliant would be, of course, the financial implications. No one wants to be hit with a huge fine. If you are a small to medium size business, the fine could literally put you out of business, all for something as innocent as sending out a news update to your customer base.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. From a marketing point of view, your conversion rates from email marketing could easily increase.

Industry experts predict that databases could reduce by 10-50% in size. How is this going to drive up conversion rates? Well, your customer base will be made up of relevant customers that want to hear about your business/product/service. Email marketing isn’t about having a huge database and casting a massive net over everyone, the ultimate end goal is about getting quality conversions.

In 2014, Canada introduced their version of GDPR and the statistics looked very promising:

Before GDPR:

After GDPR:

So by being GDPR compliant, you could actually increase your email marketing conversions, whilst also lowering costs, a win-win situation!

Email Databases – Get them compliant!

If you don’t want to lose the capability to use email marketing after 25th May you have a few options in front of you:

  1. Create a Permission Passing Campaign (we’ll go into this in detail)
  2. Delete everything and stop sending out emails, “The Wetherspoon strategy”, we really don’t recommend this
  3. Ignore GDPR and take your chances, we really really don’t recommend this

Let’s work on the basis that you don’t want to delete all of your email databases or want to run the risk of getting a huge fine. In order to make sure you are compliant we recommend you implement a Permission Passing Campaign.

What is a Permission Passing Campaign?

In simple terms, “permission passing” is the process of establishing your database op-ins. The end goal is to get your current database opted-in and recorded. The final database will be completely clean, customers will have opted-in and you will be able to use this database going forward without any repercussions.

How to set up a Permission Passing Campaign

You can set this up whichever way you want, but you will need to send an email to each of your contacts asking them for permission to use their details for email marketing. When you email your contacts, give your customers a reason to opt-in, don’t just send them a boilerplate email explaining GDPR and give them a yes/no button, try to personalise the email as much as possible.

Once you have an email drafted and the database ready, you can either create an opt-in section of the email or, depending on your CMS, put a page on your website with a new sign up form that is linked to a new GDPR database.

Before you send the email make sure that you had added an unsubscribe link so that people can opt-out quickly and easily. Once you have sent the email, keep an eye out on your open rates and opt-ins, there is nothing else you can do to influence people now to opt-in, but it is good to keep an eye on how well you are doing.

When should you set up a Permission Passing Campaign?

The sooner the better. Between now and May people will see an influx of GDPR emails hitting their inboxes and if they don’t fully understand why they are being asked to opt back in, you could end up with emails getting deleted without even being opened.

You have nearly 3 months to get this sorted, don’t forget the administration of the databases prior and post-distribution, give yourself enough time that you get this right as the repercussions could be huge.

GDPR is much more than just making sure your email databases are up to date and opted-in. The above guide is the tip of the digital iceberg, make sure your business is fully compliant across all aspects of data protection.

If you need even more information about GDPR head over to the ICO website.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in greater detail why not get in touch with our digital marketing team who will happy to help.