Post-GDPR Email Marketing | DMA

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Post-GDPR Email Marketing

The GDPR has meant that some (most?) companies have reviewed their practices, cleaned up their data and put in better processes. All good, but has it changed how you should approach email?

Yesterday I uninstalled a shopping/auction app from my phone. I did so because there’s no distinction in the app between purchase and bid notifications, and the seemingly-irrelevant marketing notifications at any hour of the day. I now use the mobile website instead, which isn’t as good, but I choose when to interact with the website. And the website doesn’t alert me at 3am about a new promotion for DMs (even though I really like DMs).

Why is this relevant? It’s because to understand the long term impact of the GDPR organisations need to understand their customers. The GDPR hasn’t changed what is important to us as human beings (trust, understanding why things happen, and some choice or control in the matter) or our reaction to things which annoy us (ignore, block, delete, bin, replace).

For a long time, email has had a number of effective self-regulatory processes: the unsubscribe link, the block button, sender reputation and the spam folder. As an industry, because our recipients have been in control, regulatory complaints are few and far between. It doesn’t take many emails to be marked as spam to have your next campaign neatly filed away by in the spam folder. And the technology behind this self-regulation is always changing.

So, looking ahead, I think it’s these give us two out of the three things I think matter most for post GDPR email marketing: keeping your recipients happy, and being mindful of the inbox filtering technology. The third thing is that you may want to replenish mailing lists after your GDPR data clean-up.
Keeping customers happy
Good practice will always exceed the legal minimum standard. The DMA code has been written with an aspirational goal: “to inspire our industry to serve each customer with fairness and respect – and, in consequence, to cultivate a profitable and successful commercial ecosystem”. I read that and I think “who needs the GDPR?!”.
Read the DMA code here:
Inbox technology changes
A good quality email programme is less susceptible to technology change. Why? Because the inbox providers are focused on two things:
1) the consumer
2) information security
Following the DMA code and putting the customer first will align your programme to whatever the inbox providers are tryng to achieve, so you shouldn’t be caught out.
Of course, have in place DKIM, SPF, DMARC. But over and above this, make sure you work with email and technology providers who can tell you about their information security.
Rebuilding your mailing list
Accept that you’re always going to have email churn, with people changing names, jobs and email providers. When looking at customer and prospect acquisition, use all channels and touch points. Tim Watson has a great blog on how to make your acquisition campaign more effective:
The DMA Email guide ( explains that “cost per acquisition” CPA is a key metric. But an interesting use of the CPA metric is that this can be your justification for spending time looking at that dormant data in your lists – your previous purchasers, who maybe have changed requirements, interests, circumstances or lifestyle. Lots of re-engagement guides were written for GDPR, but re-engagement should definitely form part of your marketing mix because it can be far more cost effective than acquisition. You still need new data in your programme, but spend time on re-engagement too. Take a look at some re-engagement tips here:
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