Did GDPR Give Email Marketing A Massive Engagement Boost?

Email marketing has always suffered from being the uncool kid in the corner who ends up eating lunch on their own.

To their side, the guys who book influencer campaigns, spend millions on display and buy targeted campaigns on social are the kids to know. The only problem is that -- as most businesses should realise -- email is actually a ninja of a marketing channel.

It's not hard to see why 2018 was not the best time for email marketing. There were those four letters of GDPR that dominated everything, prompting many brands to seek permission to keep on emailing people or suggesting they look at the company's new privacy policy online. 

Everyone knows what happened next. People wondered who all these companies asking to keep in touch were, and unsubscribe clicks went through the roof. Everything about email marketing in the UK went a shade below global averages.

However, in 2019, email marketing fought back, according to new research from Campaign Monitor. Although average open rates fell from 18% to 17.5% between 2018 to 2019, every other metric that matters improved.

The star of the show has to be click-through rates (CTR) which leapt from 0.9% in 2018 to 2.4% in 2019.

That's pretty amazing, right? It shows how engagement is up and then, when we look at the rate of unsubscribes, we can also see that disengagement dropped.

In 2018, unsubscribe rates were running at 2.4%, but were whittled down to just 0.2% in 2019. 

That has to be one of the big digital marketing stories of 2019, but don't be surprised if you don't see it splashed all over the headline because this is, after all, the unpopular kid that is email marketing we're talking about.

It might just mean that those who were positive about GDPR and accepted lists would be slashed in number but would increase in relative performance were right all along.

This is surely what we're seeing here, isn't it? Open rates are roughly at the same rate, but CTR has more than doubled while unsubscribe rates are almost negligible. 

The year 2018 was a hugely painful one for email marketing as regulation hit home hard. However, we're now in a position where engagement has rocketed and disengagement has all but melted away.

Consumers have gotten rid of the brands they didn't want to talk with and they're now more focussed on those that they truly want to hear from.

It was a difficult process but the figures would suggest it has been worth it.

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