After a two-year-long transition period, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was finally implemented two weeks ago. GDPR now enforces and permanently changes the way you, as a business, collect, store and use customer data.

Most online advertising companies collect huge amounts of user data and while some followed best practice, many didn’t. They’ve been known to exchange and sell user data to third parties, which may seem unethical but a ‘necessary evil’ as this data helps target ads to the right users at the right time and place. While this does maximise return on investment (ROI) for publishers and advertisers, it comes at the cost of user privacy.

Some of us had a good idea of what GDPR could mean for subscription rates but we did not expect this. Even with these negative connotations, there is life after GDPR. You just need to conform to the rules and find a better way. This article should help pave the way.

The GDPR Effect

Before GDPR, many companies implemented the traditional opt-out process for product updates newsletters and so on. While many people knew how to unsubscribe, only a small percentage of new users clicked to opt-out. April 2018 data from Vizzlo shows only 8% of their new users unsubscribed from getting future emails.

In fact, according to MailChimp, Vizzlo’s email open rates were generally around or above the “industry average” which makes it even worse. We bet many companies can claim the same, as our open rates were never an issue either. It all boils down to user consent which can be challenging.

Due to the new GDPR opt-in requirements for consent, many marketers are ‘re-permissioning’ their subscriber lists. This is done through a double opt-in or re-engagement email campaign. The changes GDPR brought to the registration process now mean that users have to manually opt-in to receive emails. Not too dissimilar from Vizzlo and other companies, we added options to the form and a disclaimer in the email.

GDPR form

When we changed our sign-up process to conform to the new GDPR regulations, we knew subscription numbers would drop. Even with providing users with options to opt-in to some, all or unsubscribe from everything, the results were unflattering.

As stated by Vizzlo, their first full day after implementing the GDPR changes looked devastating. Their stats say it all.

  • 94% asked not to be bothered at all
  • 4% are willing to read the monthly product newsletter
  • 2% agreed to get assistance via mail, but do not want the newsletter

That’s on par with our experience and although a massive drop, it’s not the end of the road. Read the full story on Vizzlo’s findings right here.

Tips To Succeed After GDPR

Being a digital marketing agency offering SaaS among other services, a drastic drop in subscription rates makes it difficult to reconnect with infrequent users. GDPR is forcing B2C and B2B marketers to embrace individualised communication specific to a customer’s unique interests which is not a bad thing. If they wish to retain customer data, offer them something of value based on their online preferences.

Gone are the days of sending random emails about nonsense to someone who doesn’t even want to be contacted. With that in mind, so much has been said about buying lead lists from supposedly reputable companies. It was already a bad idea before GDPR but now, it’s asking for serious trouble.

Here are a few ideas that SaaS and other companies could use to help with life after GDPR:

  • Provide full transparency in terms of how their data is used and maintained
  • Always be clear and obvious with no misleading email subject lines or email pre-headers
  • Incorporate more value-adding content on “Tips & Tricks” specific to their online preferences
  • Implement A/B tests to try different wording or images for the registration screen, email subject lines and calls to action
  • Get new users to complete hands-on training after registration to inform and educate them about the most important features of the platform. This encourages them to receive, open and engage with future emails about best practice or “How-To Guides”.
  • Ask users for permission to send emails at a later stage once they’ve used or purchased your product or service. It entices them to engage with your content if it adds value especially when instilling ‘fear of missing out’ elements.
  • Offer them something in return like a membership loyalty program. Give away a months’ worth of premium features for signing up to receive your newsletter

Think of alternative ways to get permission

  • Using SMS tools for example, if presenting at a conference, invite people to TXT a number to get a copy of the slides or eBook. At the same time, invite them to ‘opt-in’ for future offers or Hints and Tips through an automated response TXT driving them to a suitable landing page. This can be VERY effective
  • For valuable content on your website or blog (including videos), consider using a ‘gateway’ to encourage people to ‘opt-in’ to receive future valuable content direct. Getting ‘value’ in return for ‘giving value’. But also consider asking them how they’d prefer to receive notifications e.g. email or SMS for example to help engagement going forward.
  • Greater use of social media to drive interested prospects to your site or direct to your business (in person or by phone). Make sure all staff are engaged in inviting those new customers to ‘opt-in’ for future info and offers to re-build a truly engaged lost lead (not just a disinterested, passive one).

None of these will make up the lost numbers immediately but it’s a great place to start and will certainly help.

The Future Of GDPR And Your Business

As with lead generation best practice, it comes down to knowing your audience and being attentive and understanding their needs. Change the way you create and offer content with the main purpose that they want more. It may seem more complicated for the B2B market but you could consider progressive opt-in options. This is a great way to entice your customers to share more information as they move through the sales funnel. You might find this article on Optimising Email Design and Personalisation interesting and relevant.

GDPR is, without a doubt, changing the way global marketers interact with EU customers. While some may not like it, many are embracing this change and using it to their advantage. It helps to create a much more personalised marketing approach that will eventually lead to more qualified and targeted leads. With the right processes and technology, GDPR could lead to better and stronger connections between organisations and their customers.

Disclaimer: Information contained in this article should not be considered as legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Consult with your compliance department or legal team for more specific guidance.

Get in touch with us if you need the services and expertise of a global digital marketing partner. We specialise in SEO, PPC, Web development, Social Media, Marketing Automation and more. Please comment in the section below or find us on social media if you would like to share some interesting campaign ideas post-GDPR.

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