How GDPR Is Affecting Email Marketing

How GDPR Is Affecting Email Marketing

GDPR is an abbreviation for General Data Protection Regulation. The term GDPR is impacting fear in marketing teams worldwide because of the changes effected in their rules. 

It’s a law that unifies data privacy regulations in all European Union member states. And previously, each member state had its own set of rules regarding the gathering, usage, and storage of users’ private information. 

The changes under the new GDPR rules mean that all EU member states are managed with a single set of standards regarding users’ data. Furthermore, the rules do not just apply to companies operating with the EU, but any other company collecting, using, or storing the personal data of an EU-based user. 

This piece of super-hot news has all companies under fear since several companies already have been affected by the new rules are required to pay millions of dollars in fines for breaching the privacy law.  

For instance, in 2018, British Airways committed a breach of privacy data and is required to pay penalties amounting to €200 million.

While coming up with their email marketing campaigns, marketing executives should consider the heavy fines incurred if they breach the new privacy laws. The penalties can either be  €20 million or 4% of your company’s global turnover, and it depends on which is higher. 

The main goal of GDPR is to protect EU citizens’ personal information. It also helps users curb email marketing and spam in their inboxes. Companies heavily relying on email marketing strategies should adhere to the new GDPR rules to avoid paying hefty fines. 

This article seeks to help you understand different ways to implement GDPR successfully while running your email marketing activities.

What is the Impact of  GDPR on Email Marketing?

We live in a digital era, and most businesses are operating online, thus the need to protect users’ data. GDPR uses the previous laws by making the necessary changes to make them applicable for this era. These new rules aim to protect the personal data of EU citizens.

So what constitutes personal data? The GDPR website defines personal data as any information about the user from a photo, individual IP address, or medical data. 

So, when you consider the massive number of emails marketers send out daily, you can understand why GDPR has taken such strict measures to protect users’ private information. It is estimated that billions of emails are sent out every day, and a 2014 study revealed that 54% of the emails are promotional, 28% transactional, and 18% personal.

Marketing teams relying on Email marketing platforms. Companies that don’t apply to email marketing may send a promotional email to several contacts in their outlook mailing list. They are also affected by the new rules.

Below are changes to make to your email marketing practices to ensure that you do not land yourself on the wrong side of the new privacy laws.

1. Run a Re-Permission Campaign

The biggest issue with GDPR and email marketing is whether businesses should continue sending emails to their existing subscribers, who added your emailing list before 25th May 2018.

According to GDPR’s new rules, you can continue to send emails to the users who explicitly opted to receive emails from your business in the past. However, you have to include an opt-out option if they don’t want to continue receiving emails from you in the future. 

However, you will have to request permission for those contacts who are automatically subscribed to your mailing list before sending them new emails. 

Those added automatically to your email list include those added after purchasing an item or those who were automatically added by ticking a checkbox but did not go through the whole process of opting to receive your marketing emails. 

So you will have to get their consent before sending them emails. 

How Do You Ask For Consent?

The new GDPR rules stipulate that you must ask permission to people automatically added to your email marketing list after purchase or ticking a checkbox before sending them emails if you want to avoid incurring heavy fines. Thus, the core values of the GDPR are seeking consent and storing the record. 

So businesses should make a point of running a re-permission campaign to request users’ permission and encourage them to re-opt to receive marketing emails.

Although it may seem like a tiresome activity, it will help your business reevaluate and update your list. So do not be hasty to erase the whole database; instead, take time and run a re-permission campaign and request those who didn’t explicitly sign up the first to opt-in. 

Remember to only send emails to those contacts who agree to receive your email when running the email marketing campaign. This also applies to the re-permission campaign. 

When running a re-permission campaign, marketers’ most important question is whether they will lose their subscribers. First, it is necessary to understand that not all of your subscribers will opt-out; some will stay if they get value from your content.

 Ensure that you offer your users a simple re-opt-in because making the process long or requesting too many details may put the users off.

Keep in mind that most of the automatically added users will not respond or open your email. But this is also an excellent way to determine how many people want to interact with your business. 

Narrowing down your mailing list ensures that your future email marketing efforts will bear fruits because the remaining subscribers are all people who identify with your brand. Therefore, email marketing is vital, as GDPR is about communicating with people who want to associate with your brand.

2. Collect New Sign-Ups and Email Consents

Previously, marketers could add contacts who filled out a web form or a pop-up and send them marketing campaigns. But with the new GDPR, the process has changed. You will need to explicitly request the user’s permission to send them marketing emails. 

This means that businesses can no longer hide their email marketing communication policies in the privacy statement or have the users tick a box. Instead, to keep sending them emails, the users have to opt into your newsletter series explicitly.

You will need to ensure that you’ve updated your web form. In the webform, disclose everything the user will get in your privacy statement after opting in. Also, ensure a place to accept your terms and conditions; you can do this by linking to your privacy statement. 

It is the best way to guarantee that the subscribers know what they are subscribing to and understand the unsubscribing process. 

After updating your web form, ensure that it is GDPR-compliant. For some businesses, this means implementing double opt-ins, but it is not a must. 

Double-Opt-In in Email Marketing

This refers to a confirmation email sent to a new user after filling out the web form. While it’s the best way to record users’ consent, GDPR does not mandate businesses to adopt double opt-in GDPR requirements. 

You can use a timestamp when a new user signs up, found inside your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

3. Email Automation and Segmentation

Email marketing automation helps marketers save time and communicate with their target audience. It is also a perfect and straightforward method of nurturing prospects until they are ready to purchase. 

However, with the new rules, marketers need to rethink how to automate and segment their marketing emails, whether onboarding emails, nurturing marketing campaigns, or sending training materials, without breaking the rules. 

This is because GDPR does not allow you to send programmed emails to your contacts without consent. It does not matter whether your contacts have consented to receive emails; you are still required to rethink segmenting your emails.

It would help if you educated yourself about the limits when it comes to data segmentation with GDPR. For instance, you have to be careful not to breach the rules if you use an algorithm to perform email marketing analytics on segmented data. And your final decision is based on the algorithm’s results that an email marketing specialist has not overseen.

Suppose you use the information derived from the algorithm and start sending your contacts emails, making changes to user’s subscriptions or pricing; without having an email marketing specialist oversee the data, you might find yourself in hot soup. 

So before making any decision based on data churned by your algorithm, ensure that you have reviewed your marketing automation processes and no decision is made without having a specialist consultation.

4. Managing Unsubscribers and Subscription Management Platforms

Users have the right to refuse any service, and as such, they have the right to unsubscribe from your mailing list. In addition, the GDPR gives users the right and freedom to reclaim their data. 

Although you are required to only send marketing emails to people who have opt-in your mailing list, you should make it easy for people who want to stop receiving your emails in the future. You can do this by including an unsubscribe button in every email you send out. 

The process of opting out of your mail list should be straightforward, and the unsubscribe link should be in a position where every user can see it. 

If you do not know how to word the opt-out link, you can use these examples:

  • Click here to opt-out of receiving newsletters
  • Unsubscribe here if you don’t want to continue receiving emails

If a person clicks on the opt-out link, he can remove his name from your mailing list. And according to GDPR, you are also required to erase any personal information you have on them. 

In addition to providing an opt-out function, you should also provide your users with a way to handle their subscription to specify the niche of newsletters to send them.

For instance, if you run a blog covering various topics, users may receive newsletters on specific topics. You can do this by having an email marketing platform to manage subscriptions.

Final Thoughts

Marketers should understand that GDPR is here to stay and that it is best to prevent misuse of user’s information. Although GDPR has a significant impact on email marketing, marketers should realize that it can improve their email marketing service. 

They can meet their email marketing objectives by only emailing people who identify with their brand. 

Email marketing in 2021 is undergoing drastic changes, and companies should view GDPR positively as it helps enhance their email marketing perspective. 

How has GDPR affected your email marketing campaign? Let us know in the comment section below.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If so, you might enjoy these resources: