How GDPR has improved the quality of email marketing

Feb 14th '20

In the run-up to its introduction in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation made news as a huge potential marketing and compliance challenge.


It’s probably fair to say that Marketing and Compliance teams were anxious about the impending regulation and its potential impact on their activity.


The narrative prior to its introduction was largely about the challenges of compliance and potential penalties of not doing so – with the focus on fines back in the headlines in November last year, when a German housing firm was hit with a large fine for data breaches.


Now, nearly two years after its introduction, some of the potential benefits of GDPR are becoming clear. Here, we look at how GDPR has improved the quality and compliance of email marketing.


Emails are more targeted

GDPR led to a necessary improvement in firms’ contact data. Many firms use ‘consent’ – the need for contacts to opt in to marketing activity – as their route to enable ongoing outreach to customers and prospects.


The Information Commissioner’s Office states that this consent must be ‘unambiguous and involve a clear affirmative action’.


The need to achieve this consent naturally reduces businesses’ contact databases. But instead of being a negative, the data-cleansing this has led to has, in fact, significantly improved the efficacy of email marketing, according to data from the Data and Marketing Association (DMA).


The DMA reports that most Marketers have seen increased email deliverability (67% reported this), open rates (74%), click-through rates (75%) and conversion rates (67%) post-GDPR.


At the same time, negative metrics like opt-out requests are down.


In getting the necessary opt-ins to comply with GDPR, firms have cleaned up their data and are marketing to a smaller audience, therefore increasing engagement levels and reducing the amount of ‘wastage’.


Quality content is seen as a fair quid pro quo for data

In tandem with this clean-up of data, there has been an improvement in content quality. GDPR has brought into the spotlight the importance of content that engages your readers.


Another DMA report, into data privacy, found that although consumers are very aware of their rights around their personal data, they are also very cognisant of its value.


They are happy, in many cases, to hand over their personal data if they feel that they will get something valuable in return. This isn’t necessarily something of tangible value – like a discount – but could mean information they see as valuable either in their personal or professional life.


This accepted exchange has implications for the ways data is used.


Once Marketing and Compliance teams recognise the value exchange taking place, the role of content comes into play; what content will readers see as valuable enough to exchange their data for? How can you provide it, compliantly, within your financial promotions?


A marketing-led approach improves customer engagement

A survey by marketing solutions provider Marketo found that firms that approached GDPR from what it calls a ‘marketing first’ stance have seen better results than those that approached it from a ‘legal first’ stance.


What does this mean?

Essentially, it means that firms that set out to use GDPR as a way to build stronger relationships with their clients, and that broached the regulation as an exercise in better customer service, have seen better results since compliance than those which take a legal or ‘tick box’ approach.


What can Compliance and Marketing teams do to capitalise on the benefits of GDPR?

There are lessons here for both Compliance and Marketing teams:


  1. Probably most important from a Compliance perspective; complying with GDPR is non-negotiable. Being able to execute and demonstrate 100% compliance is essential for firms that want to avoid penalties and – importantly – retain their customers’ trust.
  2. Refining your target audience, and speaking only to those who are genuinely interested in your products and services, will improve the quality of your marketing and have a positive impact on your results.
  3. Delivering content that truly engages your readers will retain their interest, trust and willingness to hear from you. The right content will maximise engagement with your target audience, with all the positive consequences this brings.
  4. People are willing to share their own data in return for quality content. This gives your Marketing team opportunities to build a focused database of contacts, alongside details of their areas of interest; a virtuous circle that enables you to build an engaged audience and continually refine the content you send to them to tap into their interests.


Ensure that your team works with Marketing to ensure financial promotion copy meets FCA requirements and receives the requisite sign off to make sure that your content is compliant as well as compelling.


Comply with FCA financial promotion rules to ensure high-quality email content

GDPR was greeted with a certain degree of concern by businesses, but in practice has had a positive impact in upping email marketing standards.


How can we help?         

At LS Consultancy, we offer a complete solution with a range of cost effective, regulatory compliance and marketing products and solutions including copy advice which are uniquely suited to supporting firms.


Explore our full range today.