2018 brings a really interesting change to marketing. A long overdue change in my opinion. Yes, marketing is going to get harder as a result of the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and also we await if there is to many changes to the proposed ePrivacy policy.

All of this means that we are all have to understand what marketing in compliance is going to look like.

Why do I believe this is overdue?

The internet has been a wonderful thing, but the misuse and lack of clarity about what people are really signing up for have made digital marketing quite murky.
Websites that track our every move, social media sites collecting every data point they can and everyone asking to sign up to their list in exchange for something or another. If we are really honest it has got out of hand. Myself included.

This is not about making things harder but transparent. Yes, it does make things harder and may be seen as a road block for new technologies and marketers but that does not mean that this is the right thing to do.

So what does it mean?

It means that all the previous attempts at list building are going to need to be explicit and clear from now on.  It means your current list is going to take a hit as they are likely to not be compliant and will need new double opt-ins before May 25th.  Yes, your current email list may be about to get halved and let me explain why that is a good thing.

Smaller more engaged lists.

Just because someone downloads your guide or ebook does not mean people want to receive your marketing emails. Going forward any email signups have to be explicit and granular. What this means is you have to make it 100% crystal clear what people are signing up for. You cannot add them to any other lists unless its a subset of the original list and means they still receive only content they asked for and are expecting.

This is good for you honestly. For years marketers have found ways to trick people into popping emails into boxes in exchange for pdf and videos other goodies and then add them to any list they can. Trust me when I say they are not impressed when they are bombarded with other sales related emails and more often than not will delete them, ignore them or simply unsubscribe.

All of this contributes to lower open rates, lower click-through rates and a lower opinion of email marketing. Having only a list of people who actually want to receive your emails should result in these numbers being better assuming you are sending valuable and useful content.

So what do you have to do?

Ask yourself the question. Where did I get this email addresses from? Did they double opt-in to a specific and granular email list where they explicitly requested to receive the content you send them?

If they did then you just need to ensure they can opt-out in a simple and easy way ideally the same way as they opted in.

If you don’t have the explicit consent as described above then you need to gain that before May 25th.

How do you do this?

There is lots of information floating around about what you can or cannot do, my understanding is that as long as you document your reasons and can justify why you can set the number of attempts you are going to make to get your existing list to opt-in to continue to receive your amazing emails.

I believe that 3 is a reasonable amount of requests. At this point, it’s important to understand that no reply or activity cannot be counted as consent. Another thing you cannot do is use pre-ticked boxes. That is not classed as a positive opt-in.

My advice is to make it really clear what you are asking them to sign up for, how often you will email them and if intend on offering any products or services via affiliate links or similar. The more transparency the better. You also need to make it clear that they can unsubscribe and leave your list at any time.

Remember unsubscribes are your friend. Having a large list is not impressive if they do not engage. All it does is make your email stats look bad when they do not open or engage at all.

Have I scared you or excited you? Maybe both? This is honestly an opportunity, this hopefully is the end of scam tactics to farm email addresses, the end of poor internet marketing tactics to get you to buy into some perceived high-end product or service with the sole objective of being able to monetise you via your email address with other low-quality products.

Who does this apply to?

You may not want to believe this but if you reside in the UK or the EU then all of this applies to you. Collecting personal email addresses means you are collecting personally identifiable data. This means both GDPR and ePrivacy will apply to you in most cases. I am no expert in the subjects, today both of these are still being debated and interpreted. This is my understanding and my interpretation. Even if I have some areas of this not quite right this is how I plan to market. With full transparency and integrity.

So I have deleted my email lists and any free resources you download from any of my websites will not mean you will receive other emails from me. Yes, I will do website tracking but that will be for the purpose of understanding what people are trying to achieve and ensuring I make changes to help them do this. I will make this clear though.

There are other areas of marketing in compliance that I have not discussed in this blog post that I plan to cover in the next few posts so keep an eye out for that.