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Business | Marketing

Post-GDPR, what now for email marketing?

At this point, I’m sure everyone that works at any UK based company of any size, particularly in marketing and sales has become acutely aware of GDPR and its ramifications over the last 6 months. So, I won’t go into detail about it, but essentially, the EU have decided to tighten the regulation around what personal data you can store, how you store it and ensuring that the control of personal data is back in the hands of its owner. I think most agree that overall, this is a positive step forward for individual privacy, especially after recent scandals that have emerged from companies like Facebook and others about how personal data was being mishandled.

The trouble is, these regulations have had some pretty radical consequences in the world of email marketing. An industry that traditionally has become synonymous with shady practices, such as “implied consent” and unwanted targeting was suddenly dragged, kicking and screaming into the modern age, where users can control who they want to hear from in their mailboxes. For most brands, this has meant sending an email to everyone on their existing mailing lists begging for them to give actual consent so that they could be contacted in future. Unfortunately, because so many companies waited until the very last minute before the deadline before taking this approach (even though they were given 2 years warning), customers were bombarded by these emails from almost every company they’d interacted with in the last 10 years… Social media was awash with people complaining about the amount of these emails they were receiving, and people began ignoring them completely.

The result of all this chaos was that companies’ mailing lists were decimated, which when combined with the fact that new regulations made it much more difficult to build up a new batch of willing recipients made many in the industry very pessimistic about the future of email marketing.

New possibilities for email

This doom and gloom attitude seems to have persisted ever since GDPR came into force. But personally, I think people are missing a trick here. Sure, company mailing lists are much shorter than before, which must mean that their emails are being seen by far less people? I’m not so sure it’s as simple as that. The thing that people aren’t focusing on is that the people that remain on the list actually do want to hear about what your brand has to say. They have explicitly asked to be contacted and are therefore much more likely to engage with the content that you’re sending to them. The same applies to new people that do decide to add themselves to your mailing lists. They actually care about what the brand has to say. Suddenly – literally overnight – email marketing has become a far more powerful tool in the marketeers arsenal.

Plus, your content is now much less likely to just be part of the noise in people’s inboxes that they had become accustomed to. Unfortunately, because of how out of control email marketing became, for most people the morning ritual of indiscriminately deleting all the marketing material they were sent the previous day became habitual. It would take something very relevant or interesting to avoid remaining unread, or worse, the trash.

Until the dust has settled, and the statistics start to come in, it’s hard to predict the future of email marketing as an effective tool. But I think we shouldn’t rule it out just yet. Its best days may still be to come…

By David Doyle
Posted: 30th July 2018
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