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Could GDPR be an opportunity to boost sales?

Liam Hartley-Wright, email marketing manager at catering digital marketing specialists Fat Media, says: “In the wake of GDPR, you may be concerned about your email marketing activity, especially if your database has reduced in size after deleting old contacts. But, rather than a penalty, GDPR should actually be looked at as a great opportunity – your database may be smaller, but it’s now filled exclusively with people who want to hear from you, and with a little nurturing, can become a loyal and frequent customer base.”

Liam offers his top tips to grow sales from your database:

Opt in options

“A great way to grow your subscriber list is to give users options when they sign up. Do they want to hear about special offers, events, or company news? By using simple check boxes, you can allow people to indicate their preferences, which means that they are more in control of the content they will go on to receive. This is turn means they will be more engaged when you do send campaigns to them – so it really is win-win.

“Using a preference centre like this, rather than having a simple in or out choice, also means that you are more likely to keep users for at least some of your messages. For example, a user who feels they are receiving too much contact may opt out of two of the three lists you have. If you only have the one master list, they would simply unsubscribe altogether.

“A note of caution, there is such a thing as too much choice! While it’s very beneficial to give a couple of options for people to choose from, no-one wants to scroll through a huge list of topics, especially if they are responding on their mobile. Think about how you can broadly group your campaigns, giving your subscribers a short list of clear and distinct choices.

Get personal

“To keep your subscribers engaged and interested in your email campaigns, the key is personalisation. That doesn’t mean that you have to collect hundreds of pieces of data (in a GDPR-compliant manner!) about your subscribers. The chances are, you probably have enough information to create thoughtfully personalised campaigns as it is.

“For example, if you have postal address data, you can personalise by location and promote a user’s local branch or venue. Or, use their purchase history to promote similar products they are likely to have an interest in.

“Many email service providers will give you the option to use dynamic content, meaning you can assign different text and image variations to show to different members of your audience. It’s a great time saver as it means rather than duplicating your campaign for each audience segment, you just set the variations and it does the rest for you, for example altering the address details to reflect their local outlet.

“Personalisation is key to generating results and it is a tactic that has proven its worth time and again for our clients.  For example we recently did some work with the Daffodil Hotel and Spa to promote their rooms and hospitality offers through direct mail.  The e-shots were ran post Christmas using the hotel’s consumer database, targeting customers looking for special post Christmas break offers with tailored content which combined enticing imagery along with key words.  The results were huge, a 29% open rate and a 2,500% return on investment. The campaign won best email campaign of the year from industry body Adestra, however it was based on a simple tactic, personalisation combined with engaging content.  We targeted specific customers at a specific time post Christmas with the tailored messages and imagery and the tactic paid dividends.

Test and learn

“You may think you know what your subscribers want, but A/B testing continues to be the best way to know for sure. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s where you create two versions of an email, and send each to a portion of your database. Your email service provider then sends the best performing version to send to the remaining portion of your database. It is most commonly used with subject lines, though that is just the start of the possibilities.

“A/B testing can also be used for things like call-to-action colour or placement, the images you choose, copy variations – in fact pretty much anything!

“We’ve used A/B testing widely with clients like Hipping Hall and Hillbrooke Hotels, it’s a simple way to really refine your direct mail, and make sure it has the impact.  One thing that’s key though, is to just test one thing at once! If you test a layout, copy change and button placement, how do you know which is the element driving the improved results? By testing one element at once, over the course of a few campaigns you will soon know the optimum composition of your emails.”

If you get can the recipe of content, testing and targeting right, then direct mail is both one of the most cost effective and high impact tools to generate sales. So consider GDPR an opportunity to get those databases working to their maximum potential!


by Liam Hartley-Wright, email marketing manager at catering digital marketing specialists Fat Media

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