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When GDPR came into force in May 2018, consumers celebrated at the promise of increased privacy and security around their data. But whilst these new regulations were met with enthusiasm from consumers, they posed a bit of a worry for digital marketers.

Marketers were no longer bound purely by ethics to respect their audience’s privacy but now in fact had a legal obligation too, giving birth to a new era of email marketing practices. And many organisations suddenly had to re-evaluate their systems and processes to ensure that they fell in line with the new legal requirements.

While this shift seemed like a bit of a burden to begin with, over time it’s started to become clearer how GDPR regulations have encouraged organisations to improve their data management practices, particularly when it comes to email marketing.


Giving the power to the audience

GDPR’s primary goal was to radically shift the power of data control from the organisation to the consumer. This was to help consumers to rebuild trust and confidence in the way organisations handle their data.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK, consumers have expressed that they have increased confidence in the way organisations hold and use their data post-GDPR. A recent survey by Data & Marketing Association (DMA) revealed that consumers levels of trust and confidence have in fact risen from 21% in 2017 to 34% one year after the regulations came into place.

Where many organisations are falling short is seeing GDPR as an obstacle to overcome in order to avoid getting into trouble. Rather than viewing GDPR as a compliance exercise, organisations should think of the post-GDPR era as a new chapter with an opportunity to be more customer-centric in email marketing practices.


Quality over quantity

One of the greatest misconceptions with email marketing is that the bigger your contacts list, the more engagement you’ll generate. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

GDPR forced marketers to evaluate just who gets included on email marketing lists. And whilst some databases took an initial hit, organisations were left with a refreshed list of contacts who were actively interested in what they had to say.

Once organisations have cleansed their list of contacts, they can then turn their focus to continuing to grow their databases through an effective acquisition strategy.


Encouraging best practice

When it comes to acquiring new contacts to add to your email database, many organisations went down the unadvisable route of purchasing email addresses from third parties. Under GDPR regulations, this is now forbidden as it can lead to deliverability problems, spam alerts and can ultimately cause harm to your brand reputation.

Organisations should instead employ GDPR friendly tactics for growing their email marketing lists. This involves optimising the newsletter sign-up form on your website so that it clearly states the benefits of signing up and what happens to consumer data. You can also use social media to drive email sign-ups by creating posts that directly drive form conversions.


Whilst the post-GDPR landscape isn’t without challenges, it’s also created an exciting opportunity for organisations to change the way they look after consumers. By recognising and respecting their right to privacy and being more honest, you’ll likely find that you’ll actually improve your lead quality, boost conversion rates and build lasting relationships with your audience.

If you’re looking for support with your email marketing strategy, we’d love to help. Please get in touch with a member of our team and we’d be more than happy to have a chat.

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