Don’t you (forget about me)

May 2018, and ‘don’t you forget about me’ was very much the plea being made by each company to its customer base in the weeks leading up to the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As more emails went out for GDPR than for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, most of these pleas fell on deaf ears. Largely, people did want to forget much to the dismay of marketers everywhere!

Years of turning a blind eye to permission-based marketing principles and existing data protection rules had created a quagmire of junk email and spam, as well as newsworthy trust and privacy issues around the contact data of the very people we were trying to connect with.

How many unsolicited marketing emails do you still delete without reading every day? Despite routinely opting out / unsubscribing, I cleanse my combined email accounts by around 30 marketing emails a day, that’s 210 in a week and over 10,000 in a year – which really amounts to a colossal waste of time for all involved!

Nearly one year on, the aftermath for marketing is smaller bases to target with email campaigns. Growing the base needs high-quality, thoughtful content. A well-timed email can brighten your day, perhaps with an exclusive offer from a brand you love, an interesting feature or blog, enews or useful information that solves a problem you’re having or tells you something new.

However, like you I’m sure, I receive hundreds of legitimate work and personal emails a day, they can’t all cut through and get my attention. So, campaign emails need to be short, eye-catching, we like to click on images as much as links, make them lead somewhere too. We prefer emails that come from a person we know, or know of, and sound human in tone of voice, too salesy or long-winded and it’s straight to the delete button.

Email marketing done right is in your customers’ interests not your own. Making this chime with a company’s subtle or overt intent to use email marketing to sell something is hard.

Every Tuesday, Match of the Day magazine arrives in the post to our house, the genuine excitement from my kids for the latest football news is a marketer’s dream. Now this is direct mail, and it’s paid for, so not exactly a like-for-like comparison! But stay with me. As we do less direct mail and more email now when marketing, putting the effort into your email content to make it as interesting, high-quality and well-designed as if you were sending a glossy piece of collateral to print, is the best guarantee of better engagement.

Putting the effort in extends to the care over the data and contact preferences of your email recipients. I’ve heard it said that GDPR should be as important to a business as health and safety. Whilst not visibly life-threatening, how you do email marketing exhibits the ethics of how you do business and can be vital to the health of your long-term customer relationships.

Nearly one year on from GDPR, bases may be smaller but, hopefully, those left opted in are the most interested and engaged contacts too which is better for email metrics.

Email is still an important channel of marketing communication – use wisely and you won’t be forgotten.

Has GDPR reduced the number of unsolicited emails you personally receive? If you send out email campaigns, are your engagement metrics higher or lower since GDPR?


Song credit: Simple Minds. Watch the music video here.