No, I’m not going to opt-in to your email database just because you want me to

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Managing e-mails during GDPR

A law designed to reduce email spam has left me with an inbox full of people asking me if I want to keep letting them send emails to me – but why do so many offer so little in return?

Like so many others, I’m subscribed to a lot of email lists and, as a result, the past weeks have seen my personal inbox bursting at the seams with GDPR ‘opt-in’ emails. Hundreds of emails, all from organisations asking me if I want to grant permission for them to keep processing my data and keep sending them post May 25.

But here’s the problem: Hardly any of them give me a good reason as to why I should.

'Special offers' don’t count.

'Special offers and promotions' has long been a tactic used by brands to build their marketing database. Consumers can be suckers for a discount and so it’s relatively easy to convince someone to hand over their particulars. But such tactics typify the distorted power dynamic that has existing for so long between consumers and brands, whereby the value being offered by one party is greater than the value being offered by the other, and this is arguably why we’re in this position in the first place.

My data is something very specific, very tangible and very meaningful. It has a clear and quantifiable value. The promise of unspecified 'offers and promotions' is anything but. The organisation that I grant my data rights to will be the one that determines the nature and frequency of these ‘offers’, and will design them to suit its own ends. It’s a value exchange that is unduly balanced towards the organisation when, at best, it should be an even relationship.

Are you offering value?

For some consumers, the promise of such offers will be enough to tempt them into granting data rights. It’s amazing what many of us will do when given the promise of 10% off our next purchase. But that doesn’t mean that many organisations aren’t missing an opportunity.

Consumers have never before been so bombarded by branded content, and GDPR has provided the perfect framing device for this in action. We are now in a position where brands are actively pleading with consumers to retain that right to bombard, and consumers now have much greater power to determine whether that value exchange works for them.

Audiences tend to judge valuable content on four broad measures; does it make them happier, healthier, wiser or wealthier? The more of those requirements that you can fulfil, and to the greater extent, the more valuable your content is likely to be perceived.

The days leading up to May 25 will undoubtedly see even more emails land in my inbox, and most of them are going to struggle to deliver on just one of those measures, let alone all four.

GDPR is an opportunity to better understand your relationship with your audiences

Those that fear GDPR are those that aren’t putting enough of their time and energy into understanding audience dynamics.

GDPR represents an opportunity for brands to better understand the relationship that they have with their audiences and how their audiences engage with them. It was an opportunity to use that understanding to make their email marketing much more effective. Instead, too many have simply taken blanket approaches in order to ‘tick the box’.

If I’m engaging with your emails, it’s probably a good sign that I find value in what you are sending to me, so if I haven’t opted in, you need to remind me about what I could potentially be missing out on. If this is the last time that I could potentially be alerted to something that I find genuinely valuable, I’m going to respond to a message that points that out.

If I haven’t engaged with something that you’ve sent me, then that’s probably a clue that your content isn’t delivering on one of those measures of value. Maybe that’s because the content isn’t relevant, interesting or insightful enough, or maybe it’s because it isn’t presented in a way that’s accessible or relatable. Email is a medium where attention spans are short – you need to spell it out for me.

GDPR is your opportunity to properly segment and understand your audiences. If your audiences aren’t engaging with your content, understand why that is. What changed in your relationship where the consumer felt that you weren’t delivering the value that they hoped? Find out as much as you can about what your audiences do and don’t like, and focus on those in your GDPR strategy.

GDPR is a regulation born out of bad marketing, and the net result of all of this is that every party should get a better marketing experience. Consumers will get less of the stuff that they don’t want and more of what they do, and brands have a bigger incentive to be much more intelligent about how they communicate to their audience.

But if you’re going to spend the next week asking me to opt-in to your e-mail database just because you want me to, you’re going to be in for a disappointment.

Michael Hewitt is content marketing manager at Stickyeyes

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