Email marketing in the age of GDPR

 admin  20/Aug/18  no responses.

GDPR – great news for many consumers, exceptionally bad for businesses the length and breadth of Europe. An article published by Campaign stated GDPR could render 75% of UK marketing data obsolete – so that’s three-quarters of your email list, gone!

These losses could have a very real impact on your business – and some six weeks since GDPR went live, you might already be experiencing falls in sales, enquiries and phone calls. In this feature, we want to provide an emergency GDPR email marketing plan, but first, we must start with the basics.

GDPR – a jargon-free overview

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on the 25th May 2018. Created to provide heightened protection to the privacy of individuals throughout the EU, GDPR now governs how data is collected, stored and used.

In short, GDPR was a reaction to companies abusing data, with the selling of email addresses, sharing of data to unauthorised parties and failure to protect data against hackers. And despite the legislation applying to individuals, it also applies to emails sent to other businesses.

Now, asides from the admin you’ve had to overhaul, you need to face the prospect of re-building cleansed email lists, reworking opt-ins and ensuring that your opt-out is on point. Let’s dive into these now.

The things you HAVE to know about GDPR and email marketing

Excuse us if GDPR explainers have been done to death (and we’re with you if you feel sick and tired of hearing about it). However, GDPR is still misunderstood by many, many businesses. Here are the five things you must understand about GDPR and email marketing – and we’ll try to keep it brief.

Consent means that your email recipient must opt-in (and pre-ticked boxes don’t count)

Recital 32: “Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should not constitute consent.”

In order to be GDPR-compliant, your email recipients must actively confirm their consent. This means that they must be the ones to tick the subscribe box on a download or contact form.

Consent requests must be totally separate from other terms and conditions

Article 7 (4): “When assessing whether consent is freely given, utmost account shall be taken of whether… the performance of a contract, including the provision of a service, is conditional on consent to the processing of personal data that is not necessary for the performance of that contract.”

In the past, downloadable content has driven the growth of email marketing lists. Now however, GDPR restricts this practice. The section above translates to mean that consent is not freely given if an email is necessary to download content, and consent must be given separately. For example, you can provide a download and present the option to sign up to your email at the same time. However opting-in must be optional – allowing users to download the content without subscribing if they wish.

Make it simple and straightforward for people to withdraw consent – and explain how to do it

Article 7 (3):​ “The data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her​ consent at any time. (…) It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent.​”

Every recipient of your emails must be able to easily remove themselves from your list. Best practices in this respect include:

– Not requiring anything other than their email address on the unsubscribe page

– Not requiring subscribers to log in, in order to unsubscribe

– Not asking subscribers to visit more than one page to submit their request

Keep records of consent – the who, the when, then how

Article 7 (1):​ “Where processing is based on the data subject’s consent, the controller should be able to demonstrate that the data subject has given consent to the processing operation.”

Not only does GDPR require that you gain consent in certain ways, it also requires that you record key details about how you’ve gained each individual’s consent. This means that you need to track:

– Who it was that gave their consent

– What date they gave it to you

– What other details were provided at the time of giving their consent (such as their name, address, job position or date of birth)

Review your consent processes and your existing lists for consent

Recital 171:​ “Where processing is based on consent pursuant to Directive​ 95/46/EC, it is not necessary for the data subject to give his or her consent again if the manner in which the consent has been given is in line with the conditions of this Regulation.”

It’s critical to understand that the rules of GDPR don’t just apply to email signups after the going-live date of GDPR, but also applies to emails prior to the 25th May 2018.

If you collected consent and are sure that you abided by all the GDPR rules when you did so, you won’t need to do anything else. If not however, you’re going to need to:

1. Undertake an audit on all of your email lists

Work through your email lists to identify who would have provided GDPR-compliant consent, and create a detailed record of the who, the when and the how.

2. Create a plan for gaining consent

Where your contacts haven’t provided consent (or where you’re uncertain as to whether they have), you’ll need to send out emails to specifically ask them for consent. If they don’t provide it, you must remove the subscriber in question from your mailing list.

PressPoint pro tip: It’s good practice to send out regular re-permission emails. This isn’t only for GDPR reasons, but to ensure your email lists are clean and your recipients are engaged. Those who stopped reading or needing your emails a long time ago can skew your data – leading to misleading ideas as to what email subject lines and content are working, and which aren’t.

GDPR: The emergency email marketing plan

Many consumers and businesses were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of email re-permission emails, with some becoming completely disengaged. Others will have overlooked them. Still more people would have seen them as a chance to wipe out masses of regular spam email. Whatever the case with your list, if you’re facing an exodus of email subscribers, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are simple steps that you can take to begin to rectify the situation. Here are our top tips for going into disaster recovery mode.

1. Promote, promote, promote

Where is your email sign up featured? The answer should be ‘everywhere!’. From your blog side bars, to a sign-up box on the homepage, onto your social pages, your email newsletters need maximum exposure – now more than ever before.

You also need to push the benefits of signing up. Write a short, sharp sentence as to why your emails are essential reading for your recipient (be sure to keep it brief – ideally 15 words or less). And while you can’t now demand an email in return for your downloadable goods, if your content is seen as valuable, your visitors will naturally want to hear from you more often!

2. Are you blogging yet? If not, now is the time

A blog is the ideal place to demonstrate how your content provides tips, advice and guidance that your readers find useful. Once they’re learned something here, they’re sure to want more of the same.

You can also split your blogs into two parts – one part of which is live online, and the other which is sent via email (but again, remember that they must be able to access this without being signed up to your newsletter).

3. Feeling sociable?

We hope you are, as social media can be your best friend when attempting to rebuild your email subscriber lists. What’s more, it might be that some of your likers and followers aren’t even aware of your email newsletters yet.

A tweet or status update can provide a quick boost to your newsletter list. This could simply say… “Our monthly #newsletter is heading out today – inside will be top secret equine industry news. Stay tuned!”.

4. Show them what they’re missing

Uploading a select number of your past newsletters to your website can remove the guesswork when subscribing – showing potential recipients what’s to come when they entrust their email to you.

PressPoint pro tip: Consider including exclusive offers, promotions and little-known, but important, news in your emails to create a sense of FOMO (which stands for ‘fear of missing out’).


If you need expert help to overcome the impact of GDPR on your email list, PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian is here to help – we understand your marketplace and know just what it takes to repair a GDPR damaged marketing strategy. Call our team on: +44 (0)1953 851513 or email us: [email protected].



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