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How to build up your mailing list after GDPR

We ran a survey on our website recently to ask if businesses had reduced the number of marketing messages they send (email, SMS etc.) as a result of GDPR – and 42% of UK based respondents said yes, they had.

A further 42.7% said they’d made no changes, and 15.4% said they were sending more messages.*

What we’ve discovered when talking to business owners and marketers is that people don’t fully understand the regulation, and so are being very cautious. They’ve either reduced the frequency of their messages or reduced their mailing list.

We’ve also seen occasions where this actually wasn’t necessary, and, in some cases, that the excessive caution was damaging their business interests.

So, before we go into what you can do to re-build your mailing list, it’s worth revisiting a common misunderstanding about GDPR.

There are 6 lawful bases which allow you to process personal data under GDPR, and only one of these insists on explicit consent from your contacts. If you have an existing customer relationship, you do not need to request consent to send your contacts promotional messages, as you have a legitimate interest to do so.

You need to complete a ‘Legitimate Interests Assessment’, ensure that you offer (and respect) an opt-out, and be prepared to demonstrate that you have an existing customer relationship if required.

What is the definition of an ‘existing customer relationship’?

You define it yourself – a company who sells annual insurance policies may have a different perception of an active customer than a clothing retailer, recruitment agency or restaurant, for example.

If you objectively consider “under the circumstances, would a reasonable person expect to receive promotional messages from you?”, and the answer is yes, then you are on the right path.

What about ex-customers and prospects?

In these circumstances you do require prior consent to send them messages, and, if you didn’t request consent at the point of collecting their data, it is safer not to send them messages now.

Some lawyers have suggested that if a prospect has already been in receipt of your promotional messages and not taken the opportunity to unsubscribe, then this might be considered an ‘active customer relationship’ – but the safest way forward is to remove these contacts’ details from your CRM system and focus on re-building your lists.

Increase mailing list post GDPR

This can be split into two areas: where / when to ask for consent, and how to make the opt-in compelling, so more people go for it!

When and where could you ask for consent?

  1. On your website, at the point at which you collect personal data (i.e. a purchase, contact form, reservation request etc.), include a field to encourage people to opt in to your mailing list;
  2. If you have a bricks and mortar store, put up signs inviting shoppers to join your mobile mailing list;
  3. Tell people how to sign up for your mailing list in your magazine or directory adverts;
  4. Add a banner graphic to your website and social media pages;
  5. Put your invite on your letterhead paper, invoices / receipts and compliment slips;
  6. If you’re collecting leads from events, ask for consent verbally, and/or ask the visitor to tick a box to opt-in;
  7. Include details of how to sign up for your mailing list in your print adverts and email signature.

How to encourage opt-ins

– Give something away for free
– There is nothing wrong with offering an incentive to sign up to your mailing list. You could offer a discount, free gift, or entry into a prize draw if you offer a service that can’t be easily discounted.
– Be really clear about the value you’re offering

A bland ‘tick here to opt into marketing messages’ is not going to inspire many people to sign up. But if you really believe in the value of the messages you send to people (and you shouldn’t be sending them if you don’t!), tell people what they can expect.

Something like “May we text you when we have a sale on or a new range of clothing which we think you’ll like? These messages are sent 1-2 times per month and you can opt-out at any time.”

Tip: on your website, you can use a free service like Google Optimize to test out different phrases and see which one encourages more people to opt in.

 

Offer something exclusive

This is more long-term than a single giveaway or prize draw, and needs a bit of planning, because the implication is that they will receive high value content regularly.

The sort of things you might offer to customers here include promotional codes, offers or event invites:

  • “Get exclusive news, events and details by joining our mobile VIP club.”
  • “Exclusive offers straight to your mobile every week.”
  • “Receive exclusive contests, event invites and more!”

Don’t forget, 75% of people want to receive messages from businesses via SMS, and almost 1/3 have actively subscribed to mobile marketing (source), so the appetite is there.

Building a mobile database takes time and energy, and some companies give up too soon. But keep consistently promoting your mobile offer with genuine value to subscribers, and they will come.

*Source: 143 respondents from a survey hosted on UK business websites, October 2018.