customer communications

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How to Manage Contact Data and Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

by Joanne Dolezal on 17th June 2019

It’s so tempting to take shortcuts to building your database of contacts, like buying lists, scraping contact data (off the internet) or ‘borrowing’ contact data from other businesses.

When data collection is done properly, though, it makes a huge difference to the quality of your email lists, your marketing budget and the success of your email campaigns.

The money’s in the list.

Or is it. We are told that the bigger the list, the greater the success, because you have a larger number of people you can convert to take action. But think about the quality of the personal (contact) data you have retained. Your mailing list may only have 300 people on it, but you may know them all: they’ve bought from you in the past and were happy with the experience. Every time you go back to them they will buy again. Those 300 personal contacts are worth 10,000 email addresses you obtained from other, more questionable sources.

Of course you can still buy customer data even now, but it will convert at the same low rate it always did (<1%). You can ‘borrow’ or scrape data from other sources, but the media have done a great job of raising consumer awareness of GDPR and the rights of the individual – so expect to get ‘spam’ reports and possible complaints. These could even lead to fines if you’re unlucky.

Alternatively, if you develop a longer term strategy you can build your mailing lists ethically and legally. In the next few weeks we’ll be sharing a variety of online and offline tactics you can use to build (or rebuild) your contact data and mailing lists.

Now for some good news

There is no restriction on emailing or texting “corporate bodies”, just the named individuals who work there. These are the so-called ‘Data Subjects’ and the law is just as strict for B2B as it is for B2C, sadly.

There is no restriction on postal mail (brochures, invitations, nifty branded campaigns) to “corporate bodies”. However, individuals need to be offered an easy way to opt out.

Ways to obtain consent to communications

It’s important to get the foundations right so you will no doubt already have gone through the following actions to bring your data gathering and usage in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Just to recap though:

  • make the request prominent, concise and in plain English
  • Separate it from your Ts & Cs
  • Name your business and any third party recipients
  • Tell Data Subjects (whose personal contact data you have) what you want to do with their personal data and why you want it
  • Emphasise the ability to withdraw consent at any time
  • Don’t use pre-ticked boxes or default settings
  • Keep records – who consented, how and what were they told
  • Review consents regularly and refresh them when there’s any change in use

The ICO – Information Commissioners Office – is overseeing the implementation (and policing) of GDPR in the UK and they have a range of excellent guides on how GDPR should be interpreted and implemented.

If you are a new business or in the early stages of marketing, take some time to get your data management processes set up. There are many sources or free advice and freeware (free software) to help you. Alternatively you might want to work with a marketing consultant or agency to advise you.

If you are a more mature business, GDPR may well be a good opportunity to refresh databases generally and comply with other existing regulations, like the Data Protection Act 2018.

Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

1. Get the opt-in wording right and run it past a legal adviser if you’re unsure (or you are gathering sensitive data through forms on your website).

2. Make the language clear and unambiguous

3. Review the areas on your website that allow sign ups, subscriptions and enquiries – add an invitation to join your mailing list and a link to your privacy policy

4. Check and review your cookie and privacy policies – are they easy to find?

GDPR came into effect on the 25th May 2018 and will be ‘managed’ in the UK by the ICO (Information Commissioners Office). Any breaches reported to them will be investigated.

GDPR – all you need to know – can be found at – no need to recycle their guidelines.

In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.


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Joanne DolezalHow to Manage Contact Data and Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

GDPR Impacts More Than Just Your Email Marketing

by Joanne Dolezal on 10th June 2019

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is certainly on everyone’s mind at the moment whether you have anything to do with marketing, collection or storing personal data or not.

GDPR impacts more than just your email marketing – it will apply to our ‘business to business’ activity in the same way as ‘business to consumer’ communications – if you are gathering, using and storing personal (or sensitive) data you have some new responsibilities.

GDPR comes into effect on the 25th May 2018 and will be ‘managed’ in the UK by the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) and any breaches reported to them will be investigated.

They are going to be very busy.

GDPR – all you need to know – can be found at so I’m not planning to recycle their guidelines.

“GDPR has been called the Data Protection Act with ‘teeth’.”

You are now expected to abide by the law and there are a couple of new changes that may affect the way you use email marketing in the future.

Permission now needs to be explicit, not implicit

Email marketing is known as permission-based marketing, (like mobile marketing). You need to have permission to email somebody, and they need to have shared their contact details with you willingly and consciously, either through a single or a double opt-in.

When you sign up for someone’s mailing list, an email is often sent to you to confirm you want to be added to that list. It’s a good way to check the email address exists and that there are no typos or keystroke errors.

If you’ve ever had to cleanse a database, you’ll know what a total pain keystroke errors are.

You only have permission to communicate about the transaction in hand

If you are providing a service or selling products, you are free to email and write to the customer in order to deliver or the transaction. You are not meant to just quietly add them to your mailing list and hope they don’t notice…

You need to make it easy to opt in and opt out

This applies to every single campaign that you send – permission-based marketing – so hiding or disabling the unsubscribe link is not a great idea.

We need to be aware of SPAM, because it’s a bad thing, particularly if you’re using email marketing software. If there’s even a whiff of spam, your account can be suspended and your wrists slapped.

Uh-Oh, Unsolicited Email Alert

An email could even be a one-to-one communication, but if the recipient has never heard of you and doesn’t your company name, then they didn’t give you permission. Some examples include first contact, sales or job enquiries.

Bulk Email? Tsk, tsk, tsk

Bulk email is normal email but can include subscriber newsletters, customer communications and so on, where an identical message is being sent to one or more people at one time. Even if you send it to just two people if they feel it’s SPAM and unsolicited then in the eyes of the law, it is.

So what is SPAM*?

a) Pink and nasty processed pork that reminds us of school dinners?

b) Bulk email that is also unsolicited?

c) The number one reason for your email software to be shut down?

SPAM is email that is also unsolicited – people didn’t want to hear from you, didn’t sign up to your list and don’t understand why you’re emailing them. Often the content of the email is inappropriate or irrelevant and you should avoid doing this at all costs.

“Let’s face it, if GDPR can remove or even reduce the huge volumes of SPAM emails we get each day, it will be a welcome change.”

Why are you still buying contact data?

SPAM (unsolicited and junk messages) can get you into hot water if you have bought data or someone else has shared their mailing list with you. You may not have permission to contact them and the data can be really old, or contain lots of keystroke errors in the database. If you upload it into email marketing software and people on the list complain that they’ve been spammed, your account can be suspended pending an investigation. It’s not worth the risk, so be careful and avoid it. 

Also, as every frustrated marketer knows, bought data has a tiny conversion rate – if you’re lucky. And it can get you into real trouble with your email service provider, as well as the ICO.

The game-changer for all users of personal data, post-GDPR

All the guidelines above have been covered by the Data Protection Act and followed by the majority of marketers and data managers for years.

The really scary bit, especially for small businesses who don’t have a dedicated IT manager, is the legal responsibility to store personal data securely (yes, that includes your b2b customers as well).

“We live in an age when hacking, malware and ransomware are an everyday occurrence and no organisation it too big to be targeted.”

The fines if you fail to inform the ICO and all people affected within 72 hours are eye-wateringly huge.

This is why Sony wasn’t fined when they were hacked, but Yahoo was. They didn’t admit it until long afterwards.

If you have any concerns about the security of your software, hardware, cloud-based systems then I sincerely recommend working your way through the UK government’s own Cyber Essentials guidelines and beefing up your cybersecurity.

* Answer: it is a, c. Are you old enough to remember spam fritters for school dinners?

In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

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Joanne DolezalGDPR Impacts More Than Just Your Email Marketing

Why Your Email Marketing is Failing and How to Fix It

by Joanne Dolezal on 3rd June 2019

In this new series, we’ll be looking at the common reasons that businesses get their email marketing wrong, and how you can avoid the making the same mistakes.

One of the biggest problems that businesses have with their email marketing is that they start in the wrong place. We’ve all done it – you’ve got so much you want to say, and your focus is on the email you’re sending out – but you need to start at the beginning.

You need to look at how you’re going to gather good quality contact data and that you’re allowed to use it, and then how are you going to build insights and an understanding of those people so that your email campaigns are things that they really want to receive. They shouldn’t just be you and what you’ve been doing.

GDPR will revolutionise the way that email marketing is done – and the way you build your lists and manage permissions.

So why is email marketing important?

If I told you that for every pound you spend on it you get a return of £40 or more – that might explain it. A recent report from Wolfgang Jaegel on the ROI of Email Marketing was produced from a deep piece of research in 2014 on how email is used worldwide. There were some staggering results, including how many people have email accounts and what they use them for.

95% of online consumers use email, and many of us regularly buy from email campaigns or are encouraged to visit a store as a direct result. UK brand marketers say that email marketing is of most benefit for customer retention. 91% of consumers check their emails once a day, so you’ve got a good chance of catching someone’s attention.

What do You Need to Get Started?

Email marketing is one of the best conversion tools around, but you need a valid email address for the person you want to contact, and ideally a first and last name. It’s difficult to get started without these.

You need a first name if you want to address them by name – if you want to embed any kind of personalisation into your campaigns you’ll need that. It also helps you to manage your data, particularly if you have people who have one or more names in common. You need information (insights) about them too so that you can make your campaigns relevant to them.

An email marketing campaign can be carried out just as easily from Outlook, Mail or the email software you have on your computer, although most of us would use email marketing software, such as MailChimp, as these allow you to send bulk messages to a group of people.

See email marketing as an opportunity to get into somebody’s inbox and get their attention at that particular time and day. Unfortunately, it has been badly abused, characterised by a lot of spam email. Over the last five to eight years there have been considerable changes, seeing greater sophistication in how we apply marketing. The uptake of content marketing has also had a positive impact, especially to the customer.

You want to get as close as you can to what the customer is asking for, answering their questions and considering their needs and desires.

Email marketing can support other online and offline marketing campaigns and is the perfect ‘call to action’.

 What we will look at in this series:

·     why successful email marketing starts with quality data

·     the best ways to build your email lists ethically & legally

·    strategies for collecting contact data online in line with GDPR

·     best ways to collect data offline to build customer insight

·     why your segmentation strategy needs a reboot

·     the power of personalisation to increase your conversion rates


In the next article, we’ll explore the many ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

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Joanne DolezalWhy Your Email Marketing is Failing and How to Fix It

Why your Buyer Personas Need the Sales Team’s Customer Insight

by Joanne Dolezal on 29th March 2018

Are your customers just a blur of names and data? In the latest blog on how your sales team can support your content marketing, we look at the importance of buyer personas and the valuable customer insights your customer facing teams have as the first line of contact with them.

So, what exactly goes into developing your Buyer Personas?

Selecting the right dimensions or shared characteristics to include can be hard for the marketing team. In many organisations, the marketing team never gets to meet the customer and has very little sense of who they are.

Customer insight + relevance = customer value + £sales.

This is where the sales and customer facing teams come in. They may have better information, insight, because they’re in contact with your customers daily and hear what they say:

  • What is your target customer’s desired experience?
  • What do they want the outcome to be: a relief from some kind of irritation or the holiday of a lifetime?
  • Are you trying to solve a problem, or fulfill their dreams and desires?
  • No less important: who are they buying for?

B2C Buyer Personas include…

In consumer marketing (B2C), you may be selling to the purchaser in the household, but not the actual user, e.g. toiletries for younger teens, but bought by mum! You need to know who they’re buying for and why, what they value about their purchase and what the pressures are on them in order to buy.

When you develop personas, you can think about typical challenges or issues the person is facing, or a day in the life of. Think about their information sources: are they mobile users, active on social media or do they prefer print ads?

It can be helpful to get some magazines and pull out pictures of the kind of things this person would like, the brands they would like or even a picture that looks like them.

Then, think of their common objections – what reasons do they give for not doing something?

They may say things like: “I would, but…” or “We haven’t yet, because…”

Sales people are fantastic at surfacing and then dealing with these objections, because that’s what they’re really good at.

B2B Buyer Personas include…

With commercial / enterprise customers (B2B), you may need slightly different information, because largely they’re buying for the organisation. You may be marketing to one of the buying ‘team’ – not always the end-user. Depending on how big and important that purchase is, it may leave them feeling anxious and exposed, particularly if they’re in a project management role. They’ll worry about everything that could go wrong, that colleagues will hate it or find fault once they start using it.

We’ve all been in that position, where we’re project managing something new and championing it, but you may be feeling exposed. Everybody in the organisation who’s using or paying for it will have an opinion.

Either way, developing buyer personas will help you to reach the hearts and minds of customers just like them. This will help you to create content that is personal, relevant, honest and reassuring.

If there is no sales team…

You may not have a sales team. You may be the sales team, along with marketing and every other business function.

You may need to work around the sales team, for whatever reason. Overstretched, poor communication, or needing that extra dimension.

Because if it’s a past customer, you also have the opportunity to go back and ask:

“What problem did we solve for you?

How has it impacted your business?

What are the positive changes you’ve seen?”

We know what is involved in developing buyer personas. They take time, research, testing and repetition before they ‘stand up’ but it’s important for marketing to move away from assumptions, hypotheses, “business as usual”.

What is the reward?

Your customers have never had so much choice, and so much information at their fingertips.

Do they choose you?

Or do they choose a competitor who speaks their language, shares their interests and publishes content that looks and sounds like them?

Our online course, Content Marketing Conquered, takes you through everything you need to know about developing Buyer Personas. We also help you develop your online value proposition. Oh, and there’s a deep audit, content generation framework and guidance on how to build a a ‘proper plan’ around it.

One that reflects you. And your goals.

We’ll be looking at how to involve the sales team more in your content marketing in this series of blogs.

What key insights can marketers learn from the sales team?

It’s not easy to get sales and marketing working in harmony but we share tips and real life examples from the sales and marketing teams we’ve worked with – saving you time, money and heartache.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Why Your Sales Team holds the key to Content Marketing. Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

Or if video is your preferred content type, click here to view the recording.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.


Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash
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Joanne DolezalWhy your Buyer Personas Need the Sales Team’s Customer Insight

Earn Money While You Sleep, with Content Marketing

by Joanne Dolezal on 30th January 2018

Habit #6: Earn Active Passive Income with Content Marketing

In the previous blog in The Seven Habits of Successful Content Marketers series, we looked at the many benefits of applying the 80/20 rule to your content marketing. Curating and sharing other peoples quality content will serve your audience and keep you sane.

Now we will focus on how you can achieve passive income with content marketing.

The 6th habit is to monetise your existing services to make more money from online products.

Quote by Warren Buffett,

Depending on your sector, business size and how big your goals are, you may be thinking of developing an income stream from content marketing. It can be done and done successfully. It might be an extension to what you already do, or it may be the business of the future for you.

Somebody who has managed to completely wiped the floor with this is Pat Flynn. He’s a young man and has had a podcast for four or five years, titled Smart Passive Income. He’s interesting, because he does a daily podcast interview which he’s managed to monetise by having advertisers and sponsors.  By turning aspects of it into online training and other products he can sell to people and earn passive income.

Pat Flynn calls himself the “Crash Test Dummy of Online Business”, which is clever, because it makes him really approachable, rather than suggesting he’s an expert that people need to listen to.

He shows us that he has experienced things directly and can save us time, money and heartache. This is what we want from our online teachers.

Pat experiments with all sorts of things, but has worked out how to make a business from this. He also gets the people who come onto his talk show to explain how they’ve made money out of passive income.

What is Passive Income?

Passive income is “income resulting from cash flow received on a regular basis, requiring minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain it.” Wikipedia

Passive income is anything that you sell on your website or elsewhere online that makes you money, whilst you sleep. It’s a way to scale what you do and reach a wider audience, either geographically or conceptually.

What’s really clever about Pat Flynn and a couple of the other big podcasters is that they share their income, a transparent approach and very inspiring.

Anyone would be impressed by someone who’s made $1.629m in the last 12 months out of basically, a talk radio show.

Which content formats could work for your business?

You can write and sell ebooks, and many of my clients have done this. A printed version can be costly, but the online edition can be sold via Amazon all over the world. People can download your ebook onto a Kindle or a reading device and enjoy it anywhere and at any time. Net income per book may not be massive, but if you really make it big, you can earn a great deal out of it.

With podcasts, some are free and some are subscription based. If you grow a large audience you can attract sponsorship and advertising income.

Are you a natural teacher?

Online courses are an option if you are a trainer or you know how to do something that others will pay to learn. This is a fantastic way to scale what you do and take a successful product to a bigger audience. Our Content Marketing ~ Conquered online programme sets out how, in 6 easy steps, to can succeed with content marketing.

Virtual coaching can be offered via Skype or Google Hangout. You can coach people anywhere in the world in their own timezone. Online payment systems mean you can be prepaid for a series of coaching sessions and earn hundreds of pounds per hour.

Webinars are a great if you need time to educate and build trust in your marketplace.  Whilst often free to attend, some are paid if there is a training element. Sometimes the webinars are the on-boarding process for a new purchase or are an integral part of the sales process. If you’ve looked at or invested in any software in recent years, a webinar was likely to have been part of that process.

Webinars are ideal for show and tell, and can be used to demonstrate all sorts of things, from presentations to product demos.

Those produced by Dolezal Consulting are free and educational, but also work as lead generation. I’m a teacher and a trainer, I love sharing marketing knowledge and tactics and have found that webinars are a fantastic way to reach people wherever they are. We now have clients all over the UK and a network of contacts worldwide. We also have invaluable insight into the challenges real businesses and marketers are facing, via the Q&A sessions.

And for the more serious content marketers

Online subscriptions and member organisations, like the Content Marketing Academy, have gated content, where those who’ve enjoyed the free products and know they like what you do will invest further. The subscription cost may be low, but it’s a way to build the numbers and earns you income from something already available.

Another great example is e-commerce, if you have lovely products you want people to see. Content marketing will help you get the messages out there as well as building people’s trust – trust online is at the lowest ever level. Demonstrating that your products are good and showing that customers are happy are all part of content marketing.

What are the “Seven Habits of Successful Content Marketers”?

Tips and real examples from people who’ve inspired me over the last five years. They demonstrate, by using Content Marketing, how it has worked for the businesses they run.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 7 Habits of Successful Content Marketers. Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1.  Tell them what they want to know – often
  2.   Follow the plan and pick the right tools
  3.   Be efficient – reduce, re-use, recycle
  4.   Master social media, especially TWITTER
  5.   The 80:20 rule: 80% theirs: 20% yours
  6.   Earn Active Passive Income with RITE content
  7.   Find your niche… the smaller, the better
  8.   Measure your content marketing, often

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

For more Content Marketing tips and tricks, grab your free eBook here.


Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalEarn Money While You Sleep, with Content Marketing