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3 steps to grow your email database

email database growth GDPR

Disclaimer: this is informed advice but not legal advice. You can find the text of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) here.

Your email subscriber base is essential for your email marketing and can lead to eCommerce success. Yet, in the age of GDPR, this marketing gold is in danger with experts estimating that only 25% of customer data in UK marketing databases meets GDPR requirements. Getting subscribers to give GDPR compliant consent, e.g. with a permission pass campaign, is an important first step to protect your subscriber base so you can email as many contacts as possible after 25 May 2018.

Then, in the new world of the GDPR, you need tactics to grow your email marketing databases organically.

Let's look at three steps to grow your email list by getting more of your target audience to sign up for your newsletter and then helping them find real value in their relationship with you.

 

Leverage all channels

Are you using all available channels to collect email addresses from your website visitors?

Your website is the place to start: include a bulk email subscription in your register/checkout process; add a popover subscribe form; and add a link or small subscribe form in your footer.

Send transactional emails as part of your purchase process to old and new customers. Preferably send all of browse abandon, cart abandon, post-purchase receipt, delivery reminder, and request for review as part of your email marketing campaigns. These can be sent as a legitimate interest, as they are all part of the purchase process unless shoppers have opted out of email.

Transactional emails, such as order confirmations, e-receipts and shipping confirmations, get​​​​​​​ two to three times the open rates of your regular emails and providing you keep on topic then customers like them. If you add a sign-up link for marketing emails, they are a good gateway to grow your email list.

Old-style refer-a-friend campaigns, where a shopper entered their friend's email address and it got emailed, are not legal under the GDPR. But you can still achieve similar results, legally, if the shopper does the sending to the new potential customers. One simple example is to offer a single-use coupon which the shopper can send to their friends using their normal chat or email.  

 

Choose the right timing of your marketing campaigns

As part of your digital marketing strategy, you probably have a pop-up on your website to capture leads for your database but is it optimized for the best possible response rate?

Instant pop-ups that cover the page immediately are poor practice and very annoying. They are also possibly invalid under GDPR, because visitors may believe they must complete the form in order to proceed, so their consent is not “freely given”.

It's better to wait a while to display the pop-up - until the visitor has had enough time to experience your website. And never display the pop-up to visitors who have already made their decision.

 

Offer clear value of your email marketing

On the sign-up form, be explicit about what new subscribers will opt in to -not in technical terms, but as the value to them. Don't say “Do you want to sign up to our weekly newsletter?”, say “Would you like news of special offers, member-only events and the latest products by email?”. An engaging opt-in message such as this is more likely to yield results.

This is good marketing practice and the non-technical language meets the GDPR requirement that “any information addressed to the public or to the data subject be concise, easily accessible and easy to understand, and that clear and plain language” be used.

The GDPR has banned prefilled checkboxes, so a good way for visitors to respond is by a pair of radio buttons, e.g. “I'm in” vs “I'll miss out”. Finally, include a link to your privacy page.

This seems a good time to check the wording of your privacy page. Look back at that quote from the GDPR, a few lines above. Is your privacy page “concise” (i.e. short) and is “clear and plain language” used (i.e. not technical terms, long sentences or legalese)? If not, then it's not compliant.

Email subscribers provide you with some very valuable personal information when they opt in to your marketing campaigns and give you their email addresses so why not recognize this by giving something valuable in return? Make your subscriber base feel special by providing promotional email-exclusive offers or early access to a sale or another promotion. Also remember why each shopper signed up and personalize the content accordingly, possibly including future offers.

The strategies you use to promote your latest marketing campaigns are only as good as your email marketing database. By following the steps above, you'll be on your way toward growing a strong subscriber base and generating more revenue.

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