Life After GDPR - What to do if you lost all your subscribers

The new General Data Protection Regulations came into force on Friday 25th May and you're probably sick and tired of hearing about them.

Although the changes to the law were announced a long time ago, for many businesses the implications weren't clear until the very last moment - it all seemed like a lot of fuss about nothing, and something that only the 'big boys' needed to worry about. Suddenly the deadline was looming, you were receiving hundreds of opt-in messages a day from other small businesses and everyone was asking you if you were ready or not. Panic set in, your own opt-in mailshot was put together in a hurry, and you reluctantly pressed send fearing there was a good chance that a high percentage of your database wouldn't re-subcribe. 

Hopefully you were proved wrong and were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who are still happy to receive your content, but if not - don't stress - we'll explain how you can turn this into a really positive exercise for your business.

First though, let's be clear about what GDPR is and how it affects you.

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What is GDPR?

The new regulations will move us away from a casual 'tick-box' compliance method, and towards a more structured 'opt-in' policy, with very strict rules around how your data is kept and used. Here are the main points:

GDPR applies to anyone that does business within the EU, so this isn't just covering UK businesses, it also protects your privacy online and overseas.
The new regulations mean much heavier fines for breaches of security - a maximum of €20m (previously capped at £500k).
There is now a much broader classification of the term 'Personal Data' which now includes online identifiers (IP tags etc.).
Terms and Conditions must be clear and easily understood (no more 20 page essays in complex legal jargon and 6pt type) and organisations must have explicit consent to hold your data. There are also more detailed policies about your right to be 'forgotten'.
Measures to protect the security of data are outlined and all personal data must be kept securely and in line with regulations.
Data processing registries are mandatory - you must keep a detailed log of how you use and store data.
You must report breaches of data immediately
If you process large amounts of data, you must appoint a DPO (Data Protection Officer).

By now you will have implemented all of the above and they have probably had quite a big impact on the way you run your business.

One of the big tasks would have involved gaining permission to use the data of your existing customers. You will have needed to send out various 'opt in' messages, either digitally or in print, which is a major exercise and one that is extremely concerning if you don't make regular contact with your customer base.

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Sent out an opt-in email and got a really poor response?

Firstly, this always hurts. There's nothing worse than contacting people you have done business with in the past and getting nothing back, especially if you know they had a great experience with your company and you have no reason to think they want to stop hearing from you. 

So what went wrong?

It's probably a good idea to start by thinking of all of the opt-in emails you received and which ones you responded to - probably not all of them! What was special about the ones you replied to? Did they offer you something particularly special? Did their emails look better than the others you received? Or is their business something you just couldn't manage without? 

Now, take a look at your list of unsubcribers and think about the type of content they will have received from you in the past. Did you wow them every time a message from you dropped into their inbox? Or could you have done something better? It's important to consider your position amongst the masses - were your communications stand-out level brilliance all the time or were they sometimes a little on the ordinary side and likely to have been buried in the inbox? Was your content really valuable? Did it look amazing? 

What can I do now? 

Unfortunately there is no magic 'rewind' button - you can't go back and contact those people again. They have chosen to be removed from your mailing list and you have to respect that otherwise you will be breaching the regulations. However, it's likely those people still follow you on social media, spot your adverts, or walk past your premises on a regular basis, so all is not lost. 

Why not advertise a giveaway with newsletter subscriptions? Run a competition on social media and announce the winner on your blog, right next to a link to the mailing list. Have some data capture postcards in your shop and enter customers into a prize draw if they sign up in store. You could win those customers back into your communications with a bit of hard work and creative thinking.

Analyse and improve

The most important thing you can do now is to analyse where you went wrong in the past and start focussing on how to do better in future. If you only contact customers with sales pushes and ads then perhaps it's worth starting to share advice, peeks behind the scenes or freebies? Customers are much more likely to be on board with your communications if you are telling them something they don't already know and offering them exclusive content that makes them feel like they're part of a secret club. 

Always look your best

It's also worth thinking about the appearance of your communications. If they're not as stylish as they could be or don't reflect your brand in the way you'd like them to, it's time to get it sorted. Investing in the design of your mail shots is a great way to improve open rates and increase interaction. You could also consider supporting your digital communications with a print campaign that you send in the post. It's so rare that we receive great post nowadays that a well thought out mailout can really help you to stand out.

Ask the experts

If you had a rubbish time with GDPR and could do with some support or inspiration, get in touch with our team and we'll help you to figure out your next move. You can also join our mailing list below and we'll share our tips with you.