Commentary

Why Right Now Is The Time To Switch Email To Customer Acquisition

May 2018 is a massive deadline in the EU for email marketing. That is not just for legislation but also in the opportunity to buy in or license email data. For those who have always wondered what could happen if you approached prospects through a third party list, the next 12 months have got to be the best time to find out.

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) bites and fines of up to 4% of global turnover become a possibility, from May 2018 onwards, organisations are going to have to play it very safe and ensure they are fully compliant. That means every person or organisation they email has given free and informed consent for the contact. All challenges come with a silver lining and for businesses which have yet to use third party data lists to acquire customers, the fact the appeal of doing so may diminish in a year's time makes it a pretty good excuse to dip their toes in the water right now.

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With a quality list, backed up by a compelling email campaign, it should work well. But consider this, in case there are second thoughts. There will still be the same risk, the same need to take a leap of faith on someone else's data in a year's time, only it will be backed up by the risk of a massive fine from the ICO, or another EU nation's data watchdog. We will have to wait to see what happens in thirteen months time when GDPR bites but you can imagine the lengths to which third party data specialists are trying to ensure their lists remain compliant.

Who would pay the massive fine if you bought a list in good faith and a complaint ensued and was upheld will be a question for lawyer, and a data watchdog.

For the marketer, the question may be simpler. Do we want to take that risk from May 2018 going forwards? Or, at least, will we not want to see the lay of the land before we decide on buying in email lists from Spring 2018 onwards?

This makes for a compelling argument for any brands wondering about the power of email to acquire customers to see what lists are on offer. As Forbes recently advised, quality is everything.  You have to be sure a list is currently compliant (less of a hurdle in b2b than b2c at the moment) and really does offer what it claims in terms of targeting. Licensing the list, rather than a one-off blast is a consideration if you want to nurture a campaign over a few months. The key is to ensure you really are getting the audience you're looking to reach.

Act now and it will give you twelve months to see if email acquisition can work for you without the sleepless nights of wondering if someone else's list is GDPR compliant. That's not just twelve months to hopefully bring new customers in to the fold, it's several months to acquire new customers and then, hopefully, get them to sign up directly to your own list. This can be part of a wider repermissioning exercise that many brands will need to undergo before May 2018 to ensure they are compliant.

If this process is something you are going to have to do within a year, why not first try to swell the ranks with new prospects to ensure you not only have the right to carry on talking to existing lists but also some new and exciting contacts. 

It's only going to get potentially riskier after May 2018 so, if it's on the agenda, there's no time like the present to move it to the top.

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