How GDPR brought email marketing to new heights

A lock representing the privacy of data

By Chris Hyde, Vice President of Technical Operations, ValidityBetween summer 2016 and summer 2018, marketers of all stripes found themselves in a worrisome position. After a series of high-profile data breaches and scandals involving the mismanagement of co

Between summer 2016 and summer 2018, marketers of all stripes found themselves in a worrisome position. After a series of high-profile data breaches and scandals involving the mismanagement of consumer data by businesses, public and governmental attention was turned towards the value of personal data. GDPR, to be launched in May 2018, was the inevitable result.

What troubled these marketers most was the fact that GDPR highlighted just how much they relied on customer data to do their jobs. If GDPR was to accomplish what it set out to, the data well might soon run dry, and they’d have to figure out a new way of working.

For email marketers in particular, the perceived threat to their valuable email lists was grave. GDPR enforces a requirement for subscribers to opt into email marketing correspondence. If they do not, they’re automatically opted-out. The end result was email marketers taking chunks out of the sizeable email lists they’d spent years building up.

Understandably, there was an air of anxiety. Many were nervous their marketing programmes were going to be severely hindered by the tighter regulatory standards.

Interestingly, these worries seem to have been unfounded. Research by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) reveals that email marketers adapted to the regulatory change better than even they might have expected. According to the DMA, by May 2019, only a year after GDPR’s introduction, email marketing initiatives have seen a marked improvement in efficacy.

Other regions and countries are beginning to emulate Europe’s example, putting in place their own data protection regulations , such as Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). With this in mind, now seems like a good time to investigate how GDPR has positively impacted email marketing initiatives, so that email marketers outside the EU might learn some lessons of how greater data privacy doesn’t mean lesser marketing.

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