Cast your mind back to this time last year. It was around about March when businesses began to panic, for something big was coming.
The GDPR horizon was looming ever closer. With it came scaremongering and the dissemination of misguided information alongside many brands and business scrambling around trying to ensure they were compliant. So much so that the mere mention of GDPR was enough to make customers and marketers alike roll their eyes in exasperation and break out into a cold sweat.
While GDPR has been a positive for both the email marketing industry and for the consumer, not everything was plain sailing. Without doubt, the biggest errors we saw were the profusion of ‘re-consent’ emails being sent out by businesses when, in a lot of instances, they weren’t necessary.
This led to many businesses losing swathes of subscribers (with some even losing up to 90% of their databases) when they didn’t need to. People in this position, understandably, have made rebuilding their database a top priority. But with the new regulations now in place, it can be tough to know where to start with it.
The good news is, if you’re smart about it, there’s a number of ways you can rebuild your database while at the same time keeping the quality high. Before we look at the different ways of doing this, the key thing to remember is to always add value to your subscribers. Subscribing to an email marketing list is a transaction and, in return for the ‘payment’ of the subscriber sharing their email address, you should always give them something of value. This could be anything from discounts and offers to simply sharing your insight and expertise with them.
Here’s where to start if you want to rebuild, or simply grow, your email marketing database:
1. Give people a reason to sign up
You need to give people a reason to subscribe to your list and you need to make it simple for them to do so. While it’s a great start to have a signup form on your website asking people to subscribe to your newsletter, it’s not enough if you’re serious about growing your database and, the good news is, it’s really easy to do more.
Firstly, make it clear and obvious for your users. Use a call-to-action button encouraging people to sign up or even a pop-up that’s triggered for first time visitors to your site. Then offer an incentive for people to part with their data. Offering a discount on their first order or access to exclusive discounts always works well, as does offering a resource that can be downloaded after they enter their email address.
This could be anything from an ebook containing some useful insight, an infographic, a white paper or a simple guide. Be creative with it and ask yourself the question: “What is it my customers want and what can I give to them as a value-add?” The email address you collect is the ‘payment’ for this piece of content and is a great way to get more, good quality, subscribers.
The rules state that you must be transparent about collecting the data, what you will you do with it and there must be a ‘positive action’ giving their permission. In the case of a download or a website sign-up, putting the email address in and pressing subscribe is enough to demonstrate a ‘positive action’ i.e. there doesn’t need to be an additional tick-box.
2. Optimise your landing pages for data capture
Use data capture forms and optimised landing pages to gather information from people who are interested in hearing from you. You can drive traffic to these pages from different sources such as social media, paid search advertisements or offline advertising.
Once the data has been captured and the necessary consents given, capitalise on this moment by sending them an automatic, branded email at point of submission, and consider sending a series of ‘welcome’ emails as part of an automated journey to ‘nurture’ your new found prospect and encourage them to engage with you further. Remember, it’s quality not quantity when it comes down to the new era of email marketing in a GDPR world.
3. There’s still a place for prize draws and competitions
You can still use competitions and prize draws to grow your list, however, in our new GDPR world, there are certain elements you need to be aware of.
For example, if you’re running prize draws or competitions, or offering ‘free’ wifi access in return for data that will be used for marketing purposes (as many businesses have done before), you will need to ask for consent before you do so. The ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) frowns upon automatic submission to marketing databases and believes data subjects should have the right to access any material being offered, without having to give their data in return.
In this instance, it is advised to have an additional ‘tick box’ for the entrant to subscribe to ongoing marketing material in addition to entering their details for the incentive e.g. prize draw.
If you’re running a joint competition with an affinity marketing partner for example, you must use a tick box to get consent for each party involved who wants to use the data for their own marketing purposes. Joint consent covering multiple parties is not acceptable.
A word to the wise, you’ll attract people who just love entering competitions because they want something for free. To combat this, when the competition ends, make sure you email all the entrants (who have opted-in to ongoing marketing) immediately after it closes with a welcome email and enter them into an automated email journey – this will help clean the list as the people who just want a freebie will inevitably unsubscribe. You can also consider the prize or offer before you launch to ensure that only people genuinely interested in your product or service will enter e.g. a free personal training session if you own a health club and are looking to build membership.
4. Offline data collection
If you’re a serial networker or go to lots of trade shows and exhibitions, offline data capture will be one the most effective ways of rebuilding your database. Whether you’re collecting business cards or using an iPad ‘on-stand’ to collect data, the important thing to remember is making sure the subscriber understands why the data is being collected and has a clear idea about what it is going to be used for.
To conclude, along with being transparent about what you are going to do with the data, make sure you make it as easy as possible for people to sign up and give them a clear reason to do so. The next step is to make sure you have a great email marketing strategy in place so you can hit your new subscribers with relevant, engaging and inspiring content.
We cover this, and more, in our free guides you can download from our resources section. You can access them here.