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GDPR: One Year On. Has There Been a Marked Decrease in Consumer Engagement in Email Marketing?

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the new GDPR coming into play. It caused a few headaches, occupied a lot of workplace chat and worried a lot of people. As a company with data at our core, we made sure we were well equipped to tackle it head-on. What did that entail? Well, in short, we built a Customer Preference Centre tool that allows customers to view, amend, export and delete their data and consents in an easy, secure way. We also spruced up our systems so that they can handle whatever types of consent you need to store.

So, a year on, and the dust has (mostly) settled. We take a look at what was predicted before GDPR, and what the effect of the new legislation was for our clients.

What was predicted in the lead up to the GDPR?

Confusion

GDPR is a bit of a mind-boggling subject matter to get your head around. Confusion of how exactly to apply the new rules and regulations to a specific situation was rife. How exactly do we go about gathering all the data on an individual? How do you truly delete someone from everything?

An admin avalanche

With newly empowered customers and an increasingly data-aware public, the fear of a wave of people requesting their information and the work it would cause was real.

Massively reduced database size and slower growth

That database isn’t GDPR compliant? Get them to confirm they want to be there, or get rid of them. Not only that, but the growth of databases were predicted to be slower with fewer people choosing to receive marketing.

Higher engagement rates (the optimists)

With a more knowledgeable public, and a more transparent ethos of data collection, there was an opportunity for increased trust towards organisations and, coupled with the more open attitude between parties, this would give marketeers the chance to reframe data collection in a way that creates a positive environment and higher engagement rates.

So, what actually happened?

Confusion

Yes. There was confusion and it’s still lingering.

An admin avalanche

Not after GDPR. Our clients saw a small increase in the number of unsubscribes (0.9%) and a cursory amount of new ‘GDPR right invocations’ – a far cry from what was predicted.

Massively reduced database size and slowed growth

Yes. Remember all those emails asking if you want to carry on hearing from them? Well, if you didn’t you were unsubscribed. The reduction in databases was huge. A bad thing? Well, if they didn’t want to hear from you anyway…

Higher engagement rates

Yes, but not loads. The average reads rates of our clients increase by 1.3%.

So, now what?

Keep your database clean

Setting up an automated ‘retention’ email is very important. If someone is inactive for a certain period of time, they’ll get sent an email (normally with a nice juicy offer) and if they click – then they’re back in. If not, then they’re deleted from your database. Read more about cleaning your data.

Keep them engaged

But of course, you’d ideally like to avoid anyone getting that retention email but keeping them active members of your database. Make sure you sending what you promised you’d send when they signed up. Make sure you’re continually learning, testing and improving how and what you send.

Keep honouring GDPR

Don’t let time make you lazy. GDPR happened a year ago, but it’s still happening now. All the same things still apply. Make sure that as you’re handling data and implementing new data sources, that they’re always GDPR compliant.

Don’t forget the trust thing

This isn’t a quick thing. It’s key that over the course of the customer lifetime that trust is always worked on and developed. It’s about proving worth, being transparent and understanding your customers.

Consistent sign-up messages

Make sure that across all of the touch points in which your customers are given the opportunity to sign up to your database, you have the same consistent messages as to what they can expect.