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Three Tips To Prepare Email Marketers For GDPR

Data arms brands with the power to better understand its customers and to build deeper, more effective relationships with them. But with great power comes great responsibility, and as The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looms, marketers need to understand how these new regulations will impact their brand.

GDPR aims to simplify and safeguard how organizations collect and manage customer data. It will also empower citizens to have more control over their personal information -- from their name, IP and email addresses to their religion and ethnicity, among other information. 

This sounds like a win for consumers, but what does it actually mean for marketers?

While GDPR is a European Union-based initiative, its impact will be global. Any organization processing the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of location, will have to adhere to the new regulations, and consumers are ready to take action against businesses that don’t comply. In fact, new eMarketer research shows that 60% of consumers say they will restrict who can email them once the May 25 deadline comes.  

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Now more than ever, power is in the hands of consumers -- and it’s time for email marketers to take note. To adapt to this new reality, brands must eliminate spammy, one-size-fits-all email tactics once and for all and begin to focus on what customers really want -- or they will risk not only losing consumers, but the valuable data troves that go along with them when they unsubscribe. 

Here are three tips email marketers can use to prepare for the GDPR.

1.    Look at Customers as Individuals  

While many marketers claim to have personalization all figured out, often this simply refers to product recommendations based on past purchases. Marketers need to move beyond this dated approach and begin to use a more comprehensive, data-driven strategy to build trust and loyalty among shoppers.

If marketers are only interested in making a sale today, product recommendations and retargeting may be enough. But if they want to create a long-term relationship that results in recurring revenue, they need to say something relevant. Email is an ideal channel to do this, but it’s vital for marketers to invest time and learn more about their customers than just basic demographic information and past purchasing habits. After all, if you’re not learning anything new, you can only offer the same products that the shopper has already seen before.

2.    Show Them New and Different Things

Beyond grocery shopping, it’s highly unlikely that consumers are buying the same products over and over again, and marketers should not approach email that way, either. Marketers can offer more value to consumers if they show them new and different products outside of what they typically buy, rather than only exposing them to what they have purchased previously.

Going outside of the scope of purchase history enables product discovery at a deeper level -- offering items that customers might be interested in but have not purchased yet. Using customer data to pick email themes that will resonate with each individual customer will not only expose more of a brand’s catalog, but will empower marketers to make future offers that align with the customer’s evolving tastes and moods.

3.    Optimize Email Across Channels

Although consumer behavior would suggest that mobile-optimized email should be a base expectation for any marketer’s strategy, many brands aren’t there yet. In fact, a new report from Coherent Path and RSR Research found that of the nearly 140 top retailers evaluated, 60% did not mobile-optimize any emails. This is a particular cause for concern when considering that more than half of emails worldwide (55%) were opened in a mobile environment in 2017 -- significantly more than either webmail (28%) or desktop (16%), according to eMarketer.

The way consumers interact with your brand is just as important as the content you are sharing. Nothing is worse than a wonky email or a website that is not optimized for the device you’re using, so be sure to factor this in when architecting the entire customer experience.

The best way for email marketers to prepare for GDPR is to simply put the customer first. By viewing customers as individuals, showing them new and interesting parts of their product catalog and optimizing the experience across devices, email marketers can retain valuable customers and use that data to create even better future brand experiences for them.

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