Keeping your email lists ETHICAL

by | Mon 13 May, 19

Bonus material: 7-step email campaign success formulaIt would seem, even almost a year on from the GDPR legislation coming into full effect (and the years of build up to it), I still get the same questions about lists…

  • “Can we use your list” – that’s not how MailNInja works. Our list is built up of people who are interested in us as a company and the services that we provide, our audiences are probably very very different.
  • “We have a list it’s x years old and haven’t done anything with it” – err okay (great that you’ve got a list, not so good you’ve let it go stale). Did you update peoples opt-in permissions in the run-up to the 21st of May 2018? No – Oh.
  • “We have bought a list” (Oh please no) “can we email people with a list we bought and under legitimate interest?” – Yes, but your bounce, unsubscribe and abuse rates will be high, and responses will be pretty low as recipients will have no idea who you are.

From these questions we can understand one key thing, many companies (and individuals in the process of starting up companies) either didn’t pay attention during 2017/2018 or have had some bad advice around the updates being made to the General Data Protection Regulations.

We would love to help you send out emails to your contacts, the bigger the list, the more interesting the results are, but without quality contacts that are interested in you, the send is pretty much pointless, and you would be throwing your money down the drain.

So what can you do? You can build a list, from scratch consisting of interested people. Mailchimp is a great place to start with this, especially as you can start building your list using a landing page and a list for up to 2000 people for free (yes, free. It really is every accounts department dream cost).

How do you do it? First, you need to work out what information you want to gather. First and last names, email address and consent are an absolute minimum when setting up the list in Mailchimp, if you tick the box for GDPR it will ask all the relevant questions to get consent from your audience for you.

Beyond name and email address, it is very much up to you. Personally, I would ask for location information (to assist with geo-targeting and gender for good measure) and any related interests to what you do. Armed with this extra information, you can start segmenting and targeting your messaging appropriately. That’s the list setup, now to start filling it.

Mailchimp has some very handy tools that are available even when using the free version, one of these is the landing page, a very basic webpage that you can direct people to fill in their details. It will also generate a link that you can use to promote the landing page, now here comes the ethical bit, regarding how are you gathering data.

Buying a list, a huge marketing no-no, scraping websites/social networks should not be entertained either and recycling very old unconfirmed data should be avoided too. Yes, they gave you consent 5 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that they still consent now.

To effectively gather data you can start by:

  • Sending out a landing page link to your own contacts in a personal mail out and asking them to sign up
  • Posting the link and a reason why people should sign up on your personal and business social platforms
  • Adding a pop up / signup form on your website
  • Promoted posts on social networks
  • Go old school and add a flyer into your shipping packages
  • Run competitions for sign ups
  • Incentivise sign ups with free gifts / money off
  • Get your current customers to refer a friend
  • Use the audience match postcards in Mailchimp to find a new audience

The list goes on, the main point being, the audience that you are trying to attract must willingly give you consent to contact them. Mailchimp also gives you the option to include different communication methods as part of the consent process.

What to do next – Once you have your list and landing page, you want your audience to know that you have their details, a simple ‘thank you’ email with an extra bit of information will help.

We will cover that in a separate blog though.

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