Why it pays to maintain a compliant mailing list

With new privacy regulations like GDPR, CCPA, CASL and NDP, customers are more aware of – and concerned about – their data privacy than ever before.

Many consumers now believe they no longer have control of information about themselves, and it’s fast becoming a key driver in purchasing decisions.  In fact, a PwC research study found that 85% of consumers will not do business with a company if they have concerns about its security practices. 

In order to thrive in the new data economy, companies must put cybersecurity and privacy at the forefront of business strategy, not only to ensure compliance with privacy regulations but to win customers’ hearts and earn their trust. 

Today, GDPR is the premier data privacy standard and provides a useful blueprint for establishing a data governance and privacy protection policy in line with customer expectations. Here’s how you can apply GDPR principles to build and maintain a gold standard mailing list.  

Ensure you have the stamp of approval

GDPR makes it clear that before you communicate with customers you need to ensure you have:

  • Clear, explicit consent from the individual; or
  • Can prove a legitimate business interest based on an existing business relationship with the individual. An existing business relationship can be identified based on the following guidelines:
    • The individual made a purchase within the last 24 months
    • The individual received a quotation, made an enquiry, engaged in a discussion or asked a question regarding a product/service within the last 12 months.

If you’re unsure if this criteria applies to your current mailing list, send an email to your list asking them to opt-in. This has the added advantage of ensuring you have a more engaged list as subscribers have to confirm so you know that the people on your list really wanted to sign up. That should make them more responsive to your emails, and more likely to read and engage with your content.

Tick the boxes

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting consent from a person signing up to your mailing list is the good old-fashioned checkbox.

It’s important to note that signing up for your mailing list should not be part of your other T&Cs, which can be lengthy and therefore somewhat ambiguous. Just a short, simple “I want to receive your newsletter” next to a checkbox is all that is needed. 

You don’t need coding know-how to get these boxes added to your digital offerings either, with online tools such as Campaign Monitor and OptinMonster making it easy to add.

Where is the best place to add these boxes? As to where the best places to include these boxes? There’s no shortage of digital real estate on which to add them. For example, you can include them:

  • Promotional offerings that require email sign-up
  • At the bottom of your blog post
  • When hosting an online webinar with email collection at registration
  • As part of the sign-up for loyalty programs
  • As website pop-ups
  • On customer invoices
  • As part of your online storefront’s checkout process
  • As a link in your email signature
  • On your social media accounts

Using ink for links

Getting people to sign up can also be done the traditional way: by collecting email addresses with a pen and paper. It’s old-school and it works.

Something as simple and obvious as a “sign up for our mailing list” form that people then enter their details into is about as unambiguous as it gets – and it delivers.

If you’ve got a permanent brick-and-mortar presence, take advantage of the foot traffic going through to grab signups. If someone has come to your store it’s because they’re interested in what you’re selling, so give them the opportunity to receive your newsletter and learn more. A simple sign up sheet next to the exit or at the cash register can yield plenty of worthwhile contacts.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a permanent physical presence, make sure you bring along a physical sign up sheet anytime you’ll be somewhere temporarily. For example, trade shows and conventions are great places to find people who are likely to be interested in your offering. Even better is to host your own events – a meet-up, luncheon or info session – collecting email addresses at registration. You’ve got a captive audience so don’t underestimate how valuable that can be.

Captured attention? Good, now keep it!

One final aspect of the GDPR that’s worth keeping in mind is: “The data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her consent at any time.” Someone may sign up for your newsletter in a matter of seconds, but you must let them opt-out just as quickly.

The solution? Make sure your content is so good that people will want to keep reading each time you hit “send.” (And always include “Unsubscribe” links in your messaging.)

If your free newsletter delivers value, is GDPR-compliant and is getting clicks, then your list should stay healthy – and help make you wealthy. Wise? That’s up to you.

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