The General Data Protection Regulation – better known as GDPR – was first adopted back in April 2016 as a way of protecting the data and privacy of citizens within the European Union.

Why is there so much fuss and attention about it at the moment? Because it becomes enforceable on 25th May 2018 after a two-year transition period.

That means if you’re not aware of the full extent of GDPR and haven’t prepared your business processes accordingly, you risk falling foul of the regulation. Our list of resources for GDPR preparation is a great place to start, and the Information Commissioner’s Office also offers a handy guide which can act as a good point of reference.

How does this all tie-in to your email marketing campaigns? Well, unlike in the past, an opt-in is required from a customer for you to send a marketing email their way. That means no more sneaky pre-ticked opt-in boxes or any other tactics you may have adopted in the past. The people that receive your emails need to commit to doing so.

If you have the information of somebody who never ‘opted-in’ from the time before GDPR, and then go on to contact them from 25th May 2018 onwards, you’ll likely be in breach of PECR.

PECR – short for the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations – sits alongside GDPR and the Data Protection Act and gives people certain rights when it comes to electronic communications. Sorry if all these acronyms are making your head hurt by the way!

The challenge companies are facing is how to get those positive opt-ins within this new regulatory landscape.

Getting the go-ahead

If you’re finalising your opt-in campaign ahead of the GDPR regulations kicking in, there are a few things to look out for.

While it’s important you yourself get your head around GDPR and all it entails for your business, you should accept that your customers aren’t going to want to know every single detail of what’s going on. They want the required information to be delivered in a digestible way that makes it easy for them to continue to receive material from you.

How to achieve this? Keep things simple. Design your email in a way that prioritises the most important info and avoid complexity.

Be sure to keep your email on brand. This is both from a design/visual perspective, but also in terms of the tone of voice you use with your customers. If you’re a B2C retailer of children’s toys for example, don’t include lots of heavy, technical information about GDPR. That’s a good way to alienate customers. Keep things simple while still providing the requisite levels of information.

Calls to action are another vital component. Make it easy for your customers to opt-in to your campaigns moving forward, to change their preferences or to opt out. ASOS has got this right in their opt-in campaign. No heavy information for customers to pore over. No desperate pleas to sign up. Just clear details that are well-presented.

The ASOS example and many others are available to view in this article from Econsultancy, which gives some examples of effective, positive opt-in emails and some that just aren’t up to standard.

When it comes to GDPR specifically, make it clear what opting-in will give to customers. What does receiving your content bring them? Why should they be opening your emails in the first place?
Don’t just assume they’ll be keen to keep receiving content as you could be disappointed. But certainly push and promote why they should be!

What to avoid

There are a few things to avoid when compiling your opt-in email.

Vague, unclear language that will only confuse and put off your potential email recipients is obviously a big no no.

Also, make it obvious where customers need to click to opt-in or opt-out. If your calls to action are somewhat ‘lost’ in your email, that will just limit the chances of your customers making a positive selection.

Similarly, customers appreciate a certain level of respect in matters such as this. Headers let the customer know they are in control when it comes to continuing to receive content are a good idea. Also, having a massive opt-in graphic and then a tiny opt-out option might not go down too well. If your customers want to opt-out they will, no matter how shiny or big the opt-in option is within the email.

Seizing an opportunity

Though GDPR will impact mailing lists, sending out these opt-in emails presents a great opportunity.

Once your campaign is complete, you will be left with a clean, streamlined list of email recipients who are actively interested in your business. They’ve confirmed as much!

That means you can focus on delivering the most effective campaigns and content moving forward to people you know are likely to read what you send. There’s a chance to boost customer confidence and enhance conversion rates.

But this opportunity directly correlates with the amount of customers you can get to opt-in in the first place. That’s why getting your opt-in email right before the 25th May 2018 is so important.

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed in this blog are that of Williams Commerce Limited and does not constitute liability for accuracy and/or legal precedence. This information assumes that you have, or will be, taking the relevant advice in relation to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from the relevant parties.