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How will GDPR affect your email list?

In this blog I’ve often talked about the importance of your email list. Explained why it’s a key business asset. Why building and maintaining it is so important. And why you need to nurture it.

Well – now you need to put it to the test. Because – under the terms of GDPR – you need to have positive proof that everyone on your list has agreed to receive your marketing emails.

Just to be clear, this doesn’t have any impact on your right to send ordinary business-to-client emails. That’s legitimate (though you must be able to show that you’re protecting your clients’ personal data – so do check out your privacy policy!)

That said, this is probably the right time to do a reality check on the list you keep for marketing emails. Because it’s a fair bet that many of the people on it don’t read what you send. Even if you’ve been scrupulous. Even if you’ve ensured that everyone on that list has agreed to receive what you’re sending.

And because that affects us, here at Mill House Media, we’re offering you a way to do exactly that.

But be prepared for a much smaller list once this exercise is over.

A small email list isn’t the end of the world…

As I noted in an earlier article, a good email list is all about quality, not quantity. Recently I took a look at some recommended strategies for growing and managing an email list – from scratch. The advice was sensible – in fact I’d describe it as ‘common sense’. In essence it was:

  • Talk to (say) a dozen business contacts who know you well and appreciate what you do.
  • Ask those people to be your advocates – to sign up to your list, and then talk about it (e.g.) on social media.
  • Their efforts will start to grow your list – organically.
  • And now you can start to turn your new contacts into advocates, too

You can see how that works – but you can also see that it very much depends on the content of your emails! That content needs to be useful, relevant and (preferably) entertaining for the people who are going to read it. And you need to know what sort of people they are, and what interests them, right from the start. Writing that is ‘interesting to everyone’ is probably uninteresting to most people. Writing that is specifically targeted at – for the sake of argument – left-handed organ grinders in South Shields will find a small but enthusiastic following. If it’s done well, of course.

The point is that (fun though it can be) growing email lists doesn’t need to be a competitive sport. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have. What matters much more is how active they are on your behalf. In that respect, at least, small can often be (very) beautiful.

And now you can really start to motor

If there’s one good outcome from GDPR, it’s this. Sensible marketers (like you) will be far more likely to go the extra mile to get permission to send their emails. Meaning that their lists will be far more accurate – and far more effective. After all, it’s no fun to see an opening rate dropping way below 20%, just because half the people on your list don’t really want to hear from you!

It’s generally accepted that a normal human being can (sensibly) keep track of about 150 friends. Yes, I know you’ve probably got more ‘friends’ than that on Facebook or Twitter. But how many of them are real friends? How many are acquaintances? And how many are just people you added because you accepted an invitation to connect, or because it seemed like a good idea at the time?

Make it your goal to achieve that magic 150 – with every one an advocate. It’ll be a great place to start.