Preparing your email marketing for the GDPR

6 December 2017

With the new GDPR regulations being enforced as of the 25th May 2018, it’s time to get organised and prepare for these changes. The GDPR is going to be one of the biggest impacts on data handling and will change how businesses use personal data. These new regulations are going to change many aspects of companies that handle customer data so we urge you to look into the GDPR now and plan how it is going to effect you.

One aspect of your business it is very likely to effect is your online marketing.

For most businesses, email marketing is a staple part of their overall marketing strategy. The beauty of email marketing is it’s easy, cost effective and hits a broad audience. For mass awareness and marketing within your network email campaigns has been one of the best systems, and one that is often heavily leaned on. Gathering contacts has been reasonably straight forward with mass databases, implicit contact form sign ups and networking. However, once these new regulations come into power things are going to change.

As of the end of May 2018 the power of what can and can’t be done with private information is switching to the individual rather than the company. This is a hugely positive step from the point of the individual but tricky for businesses. The ramifications of this for all aspects of a business is widespread, but at this time let’s focus on marketing.

The new law means that individuals must give explicit permission to receive marketing from a business. This permission must be provable and trackable. No longer will businesses be allowed to use data based on implicit permission, such as they are a current/former customer so you can use their data for marketing. You even can’t have individual opt in to marketing by default and have to actively unsubscribe. Permission must be given (ideally in duplicate) and that permission must be stored as evidence. The nature of this new law applies to both new data gathered and current data held so in terms of your businesses marketing data you are likely going to need to overhaul everything! When the potential penalties for breaking these laws are in the millions of pounds it is better to be safe than sorry!

Initially the GDPR seems like a potential nightmare for email marketing data. After all it potentially will mean businesses will lose a large amount of contact information that you can no longer use. You will also need to confirm your marketing database and get them to confirm with you that they are happy to continue to be contacted. You will then need to make sure that moving forward all your practises meet the GDPR requirements.

Though the GDPR feels daunting it does pose an opportunity for your business. This is an opportunity to fully review your email marketing strategy and plan your communication. Before the 25th May here’s what you should do:

Educate yourself

In the article we’re only touching the tip of the iceberg of the GDPR. You will need to read into these regulations to understand what exactly will happen and how it will effect your business. The GDPR covers a lot of elements of data handling. There are many guides out there for you to use as resources so start reading articles and watching videos.

Be proactive and start now

When it comes to preparing your marketing database, there’s no time like the present! Your marketing database will need an overhaul and your contacts will need to be informed. Start talking to them now! Give your contacts the chance to sign up and keep receiving your marketing messages. Also make sure that any new contacts you make from now on meet the GDPR standards so you can guarantee you can continue to communicate to them after May 2018.

Get organised with your data

From now on you need be sure you have a record of subscriptions and how they subscribed. Luckily this can be easier than you think. Many email marketing tools have built in data handling records you can use. For example, Mailchimp has facility for email sign up forms and two point sign up confirmation. Use these tools to keep track of your subscription data and how these signed up. If you’re using other methods to sign people up then check you have record for these. Also make sure people are explicitly agreeing to receive all your communications.

Know your database and what they’re interested in

Many companies see their email databases as a broad communication base they can use generically. This isn’t necessarily the best way forward. As you’re gathering your contact data make the effort to find out what people want to hear about. Ask them if they want to hear business news, promotional offers, product alerts etc. Compartmentalise your data accordingly and then aim the right messages at the right people. This will help keep reader attention as you know they are receiving information they are interested in. Don’t just view your online marketing database as a source for mass communication.


Email marketing has long been used without a great deal of deep consideration. It’s been a cost effective, easy and swift means to communicate to your target audience. However, because of this it’s often overused. With the individual now having better control in what communication they receive, you in turn will have a better idea of what communication you should send and who to. If you are proactive and start building your database in a detailed manner, you will have a better understanding of what messages people will be most receptive to. Target them with the right message and it will have the best impact, rather than communicating to a mass audience with generic messages. Make email marketing work for you.

If you are thinking about revamping your email marketing we are happy to help. We are happy to talk with you about your company and how we can help you!

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