GDPR Health Watch: Firms Are Recovering Their Data

Has GDPR destroyed brand databases? Hardly, according to a study by Yieldify.

UK companies, which saw databases declines of 23% shortly after GDPR took effect last year, have recovered 93% of those losses, although the initial impact on email marketing was a shock to 32.4%. 

“The news gets better,” writes Romain Sestier, vice president of product and data at Yieldify. “Retail marketers staged the most successful recovery of any sector, having actually increased database size to 101% of pre-GDPR days.”

In contrast, the travel industry has recovered only 73% of last year’s database size. And its loss was the biggest — 37.5% on average. IT & telecoms lost 32.5% and finance lost 28%. 

How have these sectors recovered? Media saw a 92% recovery, while finance saw 88% and IT & telecoms 87%. 

Overall, larger businesses lost more — 29% of their contacts on average — but they have recovered more quickly than small firms.



How? “There appears to have been no single silver bullet for recouping GDPR losses,” Sestier writes.

But the big companies, unlike small ones, diversified their lead-generation tactics. That included “incentivizing email newsletter sign-ups, optimizing content marketing, loyalty programs and competitions,” Sestier says.

He adds that “the bigger the business, the more of these tactics were employed — and the better the overall result.”

Of the businesses polled, 46.9% encouraged account registration and opt-in at check, 41.8% offered newsletter sign-ups with no incentive and 39.3% fielded incentives.

Sestier believes that “even if your database isn’t yet back at the levels of last year, you can probably bet that those contacts that have remained are giving you better engagement.”

Of those surveyed, 58.2% lost data because they deleted it themselves in the interest of compliance. But 41.8% said the main reason was consumers opting out.

Drilling down, the study found:

  • 11.2% lost between 1% and 10% of their databases
  • 18% lost 11-20%
  • 16.8% lost 20-30%
  • 33.4% lost more than 30%

On the positive side, 21.6% didn’t lose any of their email databases.

Yieldify surveyed 250 marketers. Of these, 25.5% said the impact on acquisition was better than expected. 

However, “it seems that GDPR was simply uncharted legal territory for marketers, who are still coming to grips with the fine-detail implications,” Sestier says.

He adds that “this was never just a question of opt-ins and checkbox compliance; it’s about being more transparent with your audience. Faced with less data, you find better ways of using what you have.”




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