by Angela Reed-Fox
GDPR - How we made a challenge into an opportunity
On the 25th of May this year, the GDPR rules which came in 2 years ago became legally enforceable. And that has seen companies rushing last-minute to secure data and data practices. Your inbox may have filled up with "Please allow us to keep sending you mail" messages.
We suspected that this might not work. On the one hand, if a company felt it now needed to ask for permission to continue mailing someone - could it be possible that they hadn't asked for that permission in the first place? And secondly - what would make someone receiving the mail think "Yes, please keep sending me stuff I didn't originally ask for" actually click to resubscribe?
We consider that adversity makes us stronger in life and in business, and also that restrictions can be a blessing by enabling us to concentrate our focus.
With any challenge, we follow a 4 step process:
1. The definition
We needed to check and possibly change the way we stored and use personal data (more on that another time) and also we needed to revamp our email marketing system. Although we have always acted ethically and fairly, as there was some confusion over what precisely the GDPR required, we recognised that we may need to delete or destroy some customer data, thus reducing the size of our list.
2. The possibilities
We found this a good time to 'clean house', clean up our email list and customer database, and make sure our processes are watertight, and reinvent strategy, taking our marketing up a level. We considered this a perfect time to improve our strategy and re-engage with those who have signed up with us.
3. Make the issue something that works in our favour
As we tightened our policies and streamlined our processes, we knew that we would be disengaging from those who had signed up with us, but who hadn't visited or engaged with us. We would be improving our email open rate (OR) and click through rate (CTR). We wouldn't have the costs involved in maintaining a larger list. We would have a streamlined list of engaged people who were genuinely interested in us and what we had to offer.
There is a fallacy that the bigger an email list, the more profitable it is. There is another fallacy that the more those on the list are contacted, the more likely they are to buy. These two misconceptions are probably the main reasons businesses find email marketing doesn't work for them - when in reality it's a relatively cheap way to contact those closest to the business, keep them engaged and interested, and show them new things.
4. Test and test again.
It's early days, but we're in the testing phase.
What did we do?
oing back to our boutique cycling studio where we test everything, we knew that sending an email to current registrants (those who had registered to use the cycling studio) and asking them to 'resubscribe' was not going to be successful. We defined success as eliminating disengaged or inactive registrants, and losing no more than 30% of our current engaged registrants.
So what we did was change our marketing strategy radically. Previously we had offers, promotions, discounts going out on all platforms, email, social, paid search, as well as in leaflets and magazines, and in the studio itself. We decided to ditch all of those platforms (not for marketing, but just for offers), we decided that all our offers were going to be accessible from only one place - the registrant's inbox.
Why? Because this immediately added value to the emails we would be sending. If registrants knew that the offers would only come in this way, they'd be more likely to open and read our emails - improving our OR and CTR. We'd be changing behaviour by offering value.
We created a new project. We called it 'JammyFox' implying the fact that only a particular few would be getting hold of our offers.
For new registrants, we changed the online physical activity readiness questionnaire (PARQ) so that there was an option to click to receive offers. Our online booking system allowed us to delete old forms from registrants who had been with us for a while, and when deleted, prompted the registrant to complete a new form when they next logged in. They then were presented with the new PARQ and were able to choose whether or not to receive offers as well.
We launched JammyFox in the studio with large screens telling studio riders what JammyFox and what to do - and when to do it by. We included a cut-off date to encourage people to take immediate action while they remembered. We emailed those on our list to say that JammyFox was a new concept, that we were simplifying our offers so registrants would be less likely to miss out. We told them that after a certain date we wouldn't be emailing them any more, and so if they wished to be included, they would need to join JammyFox.We created a page on our website and a button each major page linking to the JammyFox sign up page. We posted this information to all our usual channels.
We deleted unused accounts, we removed riders from our email list who had not joined JammyFox, and we tagged all those who had joined JammyFox with a special tag as double insurance, to ensure that we wouldn't be contacting anyone without permission by mistake.
We brainstormed a series of different offers to suit different segments of our email list:
How did we do?
In the event 80% of our engaged registrants (those who were current users of the studio) signed up to JammyFox before the deadline, meaning we only lost 20% of our engaged registrants from our email list. (A good outcome.) But since then we've had more signing up for JammyFox, as we stuck to our 'disengagement date'.
Using good graphics, positive language, and a positive policy of changing the way we give out offers created something that people wanted to sign up for, rather than grudgingly answering a request for permission - or ignoring us.
Our JammyFox method was used as a 'GDPR excellence' case study by a large national insurer.
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