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Susie Hood

The role of the retail email newsletter in the GDPR age

The introduction of the EU’s GDPR in May 2018 was apparently going to signify the end of the email marketing list for businesses. It’s easy to understand why that was the perception. In the past, all kinds of email collection methods were used by businesses: from the transparent and up-front opt-in approaches, to the widespread selling of personal data and shady collection tactics. Then came along the GDPR changes, and suddenly brands had to take responsibility for how they came to have people’s data, possibly years after they first acquired it. We all remember the flood of ‘please re-subscribe to our newsletter’ emails that we all got in the lead up to May 2018. Many retailers who previously had email lists including tens of thousands of people or more, suddenly found their lists reduced to a tiny percentage of that. More than a year on, we see that many brands have not really moved on from there, with their email marketing activity perhaps relegated in priority behind other channels with a wider audience potential.

However, rather than looking at the GDPR rollout as a way of limiting retail sales growth and restricting what was traditionally a great conversion channel for many retailers, the opportunity that the GDPR has given to email marketers to look at email marketing afresh can actually bring about some really positive and potentially lucrative results.

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An email audience post-GDPR changes is now super-engaged and interested in what you have to say

Let’s face it, anyone who bothered to click on a ‘re-subscribe’ button around the time of the GDPR roll-out is likely to be someone who is genuinely interested in and engaged with your brand. Otherwise, why would they have made the effort? Your overall list may be considerably smaller than it once was, but the chances of the recipients you now have being open to making new or further purchases are better than ever.

Maximise revenue by showing the love to your email recipients

Showing your email audience that you value them by offering incentives - such as special offers, exclusivity periods to buy new products before everyone else, unique discounts and even flash sales just for them - will mean you stand a better chance of keeping them as subscribers long-term. This approach not only offers value to your existing list but also gives new potential customers a great reason to opt-in to your marketing emails. Make sure you shout about all the great things you do for your email newsletter readers on your site and social media. People need a good incentive in return for giving you access to their email inbox these days.

Segmentation is key to maximising email-driven purchases

Delivering the most relevant offers, products and news to your email recipients is vital to maximise your revenue from this channel. Depending on the functionality of your CRM, it should be fairly straightforward to set up segmented customer journey-led emails that anticipate your customers’ needs, depending on what you already know about them.

Joined-up email messaging can make all the difference to retail revenue

This will look a little different from retailer-to-retailer, depending on what you sell. Having a persona-based narrative planned out for email recipients who have previously bought specific products can help ensure you send the most relevant messaging to them to promote further purchases. For example, someone who has bought a garden furniture set is unlikely to want another garden furniture set in the same year or two, so showing them more of the same is likely to be fruitless. However, showing complementary items to their original purchase, such as a matching parasol or loungers, especially with a time-limited discount, could hit the nail on the head in terms of prompting return custom.

Segmenting people who have made a purchase via your site and joined your email list that way can be relatively simple. However, for email sign-ups that occurred without a purchase taking place originally, it can be a little more difficult to work out who that person is and what they might be interested in. You’re not completely in the dark though; by digging into the date they joined, you can potentially trace the sign-up back to your other marketing activity at that time. Did they sign up on the same day that the only activity was that you pushed out a social media post about joining your newsletter list for an exclusive flash sale of your latest holiday wear collection? Bingo! You can probably fairly safely assume that this was the motivation behind the sign up.

Give your email audience the power to choose what kind of content they receive from you

A great way to find out more about your audience when they sign up to your newsletter is by asking them to tell you what they are interested in up front – rather than you and your CRM having to discover this over time. A few tick boxes or buttons to select on the sign-up page can give you a head start on segmentation, without making the process too taxing for the potential new customer. This could be anything from themes like ‘work wear’, ‘active wear’ or ‘occasion wear’ for a fashion brand, to ‘home makeover tips’ for a home accessories brand.

With intelligent segmentation, personalised messaging and offers, you can take advantage of changes forced by the GDPR to ensure your email marketing strategy is as customer-centric and as effective as possible.

If you want to know more about how we can help your retail business grow using multiple channels, get in touch today.

If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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