As we led up to GDPR, I noticed some quite different approaches to how companies were contacting me about it.
Some companies I’d never even heard of were getting in touch to stay in touch – delete.
Other companies were getting it pretty much right, albeit with fairly black and white info on GDPR. Others added a bit of wit.
And then, there were the other bizarre ones coming through right up to the wire on 25 May – seriously big companies leaving it until the last minute!
Go big and go early
GDPR was completely new. So, it’s not surprising about the different approaches.
For me, our approach was to go big and go early.
We didn’t mess about trying to save every precious email.
First, we had a lot of accounts which had at one point been uploaded or attached to an old list in our database but were shown to be inactive accounts. We deleted them, about 30K. Bye, see ya later.
Next, we took everyone who was showing as uploaded to our account (e.g. those who opted in via another system) and started a prolonged campaign to educate about GDPR and ask to re-opt-in, around 41k subscribers.
We put all these emails into one topic so it was clean and we had a baseline to measure it.
We went early to the GDPR party. With the first emails going out at the start of April.
They were a bit wordy, giving chapter and verse on what it was all about. But, we knew starting early, we’d have numerous bites of the cherry.
Each time we sent an email, we’d then check a few days later, delete all accounts which bounced and remove accounts who opted in from the topic in need of re-engaging.
We also did some subtle split test campaigns. This means sending two similar emails to 20% of your database (10% each version), and then the winning email (highest open / click rate) gets sent to the remainder of the database.
On one such test, the only change we made was one email going out with an emoji in the title.
The title with the emoji had a 3% higher open rate. That’s quite a difference and means that when the main email went out we reached around 700 more customers.
What else did we do?
We also had a sustained period of activity on social media to support the emails going out. We did a short video explaining what GDPR was and why we were emailing you.
Here’s the video link on our Facebook page. We also used this video on Twitter too.
With just a few days left, we went with a really blunt message. Opt-in again or delete your own account. This put the real emphasis on the customer.
In one way, I’m glad we left it this late to do give the STOP emailing me option. It was a long process to get people on board.
The end result was that we deleted 19K emails from our database of customers who did not respond. That reduced are overall database by around 20%.
But am I bothered? Nope. They were either dead accounts or customers who just don’t want to hear from us.
So now, post GDPR D Day we have a sparkling clean database, can hold our heads up high and start from fresh.
To Mr GDPR, at first, you’d never be welcome at my door, even to borrow a cup of sugar. But, now, I’d lend you it and maybe even invite you in for a beer. Because, in the long run, you’ll hopefully do a good job of getting rid of spam and have pushed us to really clean our accounts out.
Alan Ferguson leads on Central Bedfordshire Council’s digital community engagement work, including the management of email marketing campaigns powered by the GovDelivery Communications Cloud by Granicus. For more info about how to grow and segment audiences, use A/B testing to maximise engagement rates, and deliver automated targeted digital comms that comply with the GDPR, please get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.