Is it worth still investing in email after GDPR?

Email And GDPR

Cast your minds back to 2017. With the GDPR deadline looming, charity marketers were shuttling back and forth between ICO information sessions and compliance meetings, enlisting online forums and legal teams to decipher ICO wording and work out if we could send emails to our supporters and how we’d even got them onto the list in the first place.

Would we have to delete our whole email list and start again? What does an active opt-in mean? Would this decimate all the data we’ve painstakingly collected on our supporters?

Now, nearly a year and a half after GDPR, the dust has mostly settled. So is it still worth investing in email, now that GDPR has well and truly taken hold? Where everyone thought we’d see ashes of an obliterated marketing landscape… we saw greenery.

Now is more important a time than ever to be doing email. And in this post we’re going to tell you why.

And if you already know that you want to take your email marketing to the next level, skip to the end of this post to find out about our email marketing webinar.

Quality over quantity

Charities were worried that GDPR and its strict reinforcement of active opt-ins would restrict their ability to grow their lists quickly. The key problem with this thinking, though, is that it focuses on the volume of leads – not the quality of them. Charities are putting more thought than ever into why people are joining their lists and what we can responsibly use that data for, whether it’s to ask them for their support or using their email addresses to find more people who share similar characteristics with them.

The really positive side effect of GDPR is that the people who are on your list do want to hear from you – and with GDPR being the word on everyone’s lips last year, the ones who do choose to give you their data trust you to take care of it.

That means happier, more engaged supporters who are already interested in your work and ready to take action.

Email still converts better than… well, every other digital platform

Social media stats get shouted a lot – with over 1 billion active users on Facebook and 255 million on Twitter, why wouldn’t they be?

Here are some email stats to blow your mind. There are 3.9 billion active email users (measured by accounts active within the last 3 months) – more than the number of active social media users worldwide. It even has the largest user base of any age group. 60% of people say it’s their preferred channel for being advertised to. It has a conversion rate three times higher than social – and its return on investment is a whopping 4400%.

That doesn’t mean you should use email to the exclusion of everything else. Every channel in your digital marketing mix, whether it be social, search or email, serves a very different function and has huge advantages of their own – and you need to use all of them together to unlock their full potential.

It’s still (mostly) cost effective

In a world where marketing online is increasingly pay-to-play – with Facebook ads and paid search charging for micro-conversions like impressions or clicks – email is comparatively cheap.

Costs associated with email usually boil down to:

  1. An email service provider – like Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp
  2. The costs of building your list (usually via social media)
  3. Personnel costs, like hiring marketers, developers and strategists

It’s hyper-personalised

Email can be hyper-personalised in a way that no other channel can. The average personalised email drives 18 times more revenue than a non-personalised one.

Not only can you deliver emails personally addressed to your recipient, but depending on how much data you have on them and how qualified it is, you can also deliver single hyper-personalized emails, where the content loaded corresponds to data points like age, gender, location, and other categories or preferences like how they got onto your list, what actions they’ve completed for you, and more. (This does depend on having a very capable CRM that integrates with your ESP – or even better, has inbuilt email capabilities).

It has a long time frame

Unlike social media, which forces you to grab someone’s attention and convert them in a short span of time, or search, which captures someone when they’re specifically looking for something, email has the benefit of a long time frame and countless nurturing opportunities.

Just because someone isn’t ready to make a donation to you now, doesn’t mean they won’t be in a month or even a year. You already have their information – you don’t have to convert them immediately! Instead, use the opportunity to tell them stories about your work, your beneficiaries, and all the wonderful things you do. Get to know them and all the things they like, with opportunities to do surveys or signing up to petitions and campaigns.

Then, when it comes time to convert them, they’ll leap at the opportunity.

Ready for more email marketing tips?

It’s clear that email marketing has still come out on top despite the challenges posed by GDPR – and charities are poised to take advantage of it.

Are you intrigued by all the opportunities offered by email? Platypus and JustGiving have partnered to show you what the foundations of a great email strategy are – sign up for the webinar now to learn how to take your email marketing to the next level.

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Matt Collins is managing director at digital marketing agency, Platypus Digital, and tweets @charitychap