How to build the GDPR database

How to Build Your GDPR Database

Richard Marriott 2 years ago

The 25th May 2018 was an important date for all businesses across the globe. Stricter rules around data handling meant that brands who collect personal information in European territories have to be transparent about how they use it, how they store it, how they delete it, and how they update it. No longer could brands send blanket emails, and the dreaded ‘Opt-In’ plan was hurriedly deployed a week or two before the final live date of GDPR.

Now that marketers cannot send newsletters and general emails to the masses, brands have had to adapt and be smarter about how they utilise their email channels. The State of Content Marketing 2019 proved this point, by showing that brands value ‘Subscriber Growth’ more than ever, with it even taking over other forms of measurement for content, such as sales impact, and brand awareness.

Not only was the change in regulation high profile, but so was the penalty. With the risk of being fined either 4% of your turnover or €20 million, it was crucial for brands not to open themselves up to breaches. Since GDPR was enforced, there have been over 200,000 reported cases (with 65,000 being actual breaches, and 95,000 complaints). Only 1% of these are facing a challenge in the courts. It has been reported that in total, there has been $55.96 million in fines over the last year - bearing in mind that $50 million of that total belongs solely to Google, for an oversight in transparency and failing to obtain legal basis for processing personal data.

Many consider 2018 and 2019 to be the ‘transition’ years for GDPR - but with these developments and high profile cases of breaches, a challenge for marketers is how to grow the list of engaged customers they can contact freely. So read on to see our tips on how to build your subscriber list in the post GDPR world.

How to build your subscriber list in a GDPR friendly way

1) First, tidy up your website

With SEO, you would optimise every page for conversion. So don’t open your brand up to any obvious breaches. Optimise each page for GDPR, and use this little checklist to make sure your top level bases are covered:

  • Make sure any forms have a GDPR opt-in box
  • The opt-in box should be unchecked as standard - passive consent is not considered consent
  • Ensure the wording on the GDPR opt-in is correct and detailed, you must be transparent about what the collected data will be used for
  • Check that your cookie policies are up to date and available to read on your site

2) Offer lots of opportunities so engaged users can sign up easily

This is a little bit of CRO, but for GDPR. You want to make sure that if your goal is subscriber growth, that you are optimising your site for this aim.

Here’s some ideas to get engaged users signing up:

  • Pop ups after a certain amount of time on an article
  • Pop ups after a user has bought/downloaded something
  • Include an ‘email a friend’ button in your email communications. This should mean that the forwarded email should have clear CTA’s to encourage new sign ups
  • Include links to sign up in email signatures from employees - this could be beneficial as a conversation has already been initiated, and it could encourage engagement on the wider site

3) Segment your subscriptions

It’s more likely a user will sign up to something specific to what they are interested in, over a general subscription. If you were a travel brand you could split your email communications by territory, such as holidays in Europe and a separate email chain for holidays in the USA. Or create a separate ‘cheap deals’ newsletter, if your audience will be more interested by this topic. Allowing the user to choose what they will receive will be more appealing then general emails and your marketing automation and nurture processes will be more successful.

You could also do this by buyer persona. If you are a B2B brand, this may be more beneficial so that your top level content appeals to those higher up in the organisation with less time, and your functional and in-depth content reaches the readers that need advice or guidance. You could even phrase it as follows:

‘How much time do you have a week to read up on (X industry) news?’

Giving options such as ‘Not enough time as I’d like’, ‘I never have time’ or ‘I want to learn as much as possible’ - this will allow you to tailor email campaigns for each of these types of users, with content to support people short of time, and those with more time to consume useful content.

4) Get your consumers to choose

You could test if providing a Yes and a No option to sign up is better than just a checkbox. This isn’t forced consent but by using both a Yes and No option, intent is clearer and this will allow you to test any copy on your site and further optimise your chances of building those ‘yes’ clickers.

5) Try to opt-in those who have gone 'cold'

Engage those who haven’t engaged with you in a while with new and useful content. As part of any inbound strategy you should be producing relevant content for your personas, but if this content is not providing real value, then you have stolen the user’s time. These days, consumers are more ruthless than ever and will unsubscribe if an email is not worth their time.

So here are some steps to take to deliver emails that contain the most value, and will hopefully result in more GDPR sign ups.

  • Group contacts that are not opted in, by the topic they most recently engaged with. For Zazzle Media, this could look like SEO themed blog posts, and content strategy themed posts, and so on. For a finance brand this could mean grouping users who have engaged with loan calculators, a separate group for mortgage advice, or a pot of people who have looked into savings account rates.
  • Send out separate emails to those groups, as a sort of ‘re-introduction’ to the brand. This should serve as a reminder of why your company is important to them and their life. Make the content useful and relevant, and show them why they need to hear from your brand consistently. The content itself should be the CTA to encourage sign ups, make it super actionable and useful.
  • This should go without saying, but make sure your CTA’s and wording to sign up are very clear! If you have segmented your subscriptions as we talked about above, then this could be even more specific to the types of subscription you offer.
  • Though emailing a list of non opted in people seems to go against GDPR rules, as long as your messaging is right you will be compliant. Explaining that you are sending this because that individual had engaged with other content of this type/theme justifies that you have a legitimate interest in providing value to that individual.

An alternative tip would be to do email campaigns as described above, but make sure to use messaging that this is their ‘last chance’ and that you will be removing their data if they do not engage (ie: click any links to content or sign up). Deleting all the people who don’t engage may seem counter intuitive, but in the end, this will improve your stats if you have a slightly smaller but more engaged pot of users to contact.

6) Use Digital PR

Getting in front of new audiences is a straightforward way to engage new people and hopefully have them sign up. This is key to any marketing campaign, as 25% of marketers want to target new audiences through their content distribution.

Digital PR is a great route to success in targeting new audiences, so it’s important to blog on other sites, get coverage of your content on news sites, that are relevant to your industry and users, and show your value in as many places as possible for your target audience.

What have we learned from GDPR?

One year on from GDPR, many marketers still struggle with the regulations and the many grey areas around what is allowed. If you are ever in doubt, the best port of call is always seek legal advice about your activity, and make the most of nurturing the ‘safe’ contacts you have!

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