Retaining your customer base: success examples | DMA

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Retaining your customer base: success examples


Despite all the guidance and all the discussions, the biggest question we get asked is “but what does all this actually mean in practice?!”

Well, to a large extent that is up to each individual. The guidance is just that: guidance. It is not there to dictate exactly how you follow the rules. The important thing is that you consider the rules and stick to the principles of the law. Nonetheless, it’s always helpful to see how others have done this to see if they inspire ideas in ourselves. We’ll take a look at a few here.

King’s College London

Recently, former students of King’s College London received an email from the Vice-Chancellor. It asked them about their time at university. Was it their teachers, memories or friendships they appreciated the most? In doing this, they created an emotional bridge.

They then introduced the reason for emailing – that GDPR was coming into place and they wanted to keep the recipient’s details.

Having reminded their contacts about the time they had spent and enjoyed at university, the recipients were much more likely to give permission to keep their details. They wanted to continue to be reminded of a happy time in their lives and, indeed, to be informed about what is happening at an institution they attended.

This kind of appeal is great for those who have long-term relationships with customers, such as charities, schools, colleges or social groups, to name a few.


The online clothing company ASOS used email layout to great effect in their attempts to retain customer data.

As you can see here, ASOS have segmented the ways in which they contact consumers. They then offered each individual a choice about which pieces of information the customer would like to continue to receive.

ASOS presents the information in a way which encourages the customer to continue to receive much of the info. In the way it is helpfully presented and described, it would be tempting to continue to subscribe to all.

Crucially, it is very easy to change the settings. A simple tap on each square updates each preference. When it’s this easy, it creates a better customer experience and encourages the customer to continue to subscribe.


In December last year, the RNLI opted to seek consent from their donors. In order to redress the loss of trust in the charity sector, the charity launched an advertising campaign which promised not to email anyone ever again unless they gave the RNLI specific consent to do so. The campaign spoke to the heart of the issue: donations to the RNLI are necessary for responding to the hundreds of calls that the RNLI receives every day. In short, donations save lives.

Research suggested that only six percent of people would respond to the email and sign up. The RNLI required at least 22 percent, or, 255,000 people. In actuality, the charity managed to get 450,000 people signed up to their mailing list. What’s more, the RNLI now had a mailing list of engaged customers, as opposed to a hotchpotch of people who had given a one-off donation several years ago. Their summer appeal for donations received triple the amount they received the year before.

Ultimately, this is a story of a brand issuing a call to arms, which got right to the crux of the issue. It explained why a relationship with the charity was worthwhile and in return, they received a following of engaged and committed subscribers who responded to subsequent appeals.

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