email marketing

All posts tagged email marketing

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

Content Marketing and the Inbound Funnel

by Joanne Dolezal on 14th March 2018

Continuing with our series on why your sales team holds the key to content marketing, we’ll look more closely at the content or inbound marketing funnel. We focus on what customers need to find (see, read, watch, listen to) to move them on to the next stage in the customer journey.

Marketers are seldom customer-facing and don’t get to spend time with clients the way the sales team does. Or customer services, account managers, service engineers and so on. There has never been a better time to work more closely together.

Sales and Marketing and the Inbound Funnel

The content or inbound marketing funnel is different to the traditional sales funnel, but will be familiar to most of you.

The traditional model of customer acquisition is: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

This mirrors the traditional sales funnel: Suspect, Prospect, Lead, Customer.

But with the inbound funnel, we’re just as focused on what we do for the customer after they have converted, as the journey that leads them to that point. At each stage of that journey, we’ll be developing the relationship, gathering data and hopefully building insight.

ToFu – Top of Funnel

Content Marketing is used for brand awareness (the top of sales funnel, people haven’t heard of you or only vaguely know what you do). This was previously the main function of advertising. Customer Acquisition – getting people to convert – is the next function of content marketing. These people are ready to buy from you.

inbound marketing funnel

inbound marketing funnel is made up of ToFu, MoFu and BoFu


Content marketing is little, regular provocations: a post on LinkedIn, an infographic, a piece of content (such as a video or eBook) which you share on Facebook or a download from your website, and is designed to help you to keep in touch with the customer at every stage of the buyer journey.

It’s also about nurturing the customer to become a promoter, an advocate for the brand’s products and services. Working with you has made them happy, so they tell everyone else. Not only that, but if you create good content, they will share it for you.

There are different types of action you want people to take as they go through the funnel (or journey), and therefore you need to create different kinds of content for them.

If you’re looking to attract new people to your website, you will want to invest time and money in blogging, video, social media, email marketing and keywords, with a well-optimised website and good landing pages.

When someone visits your website, do you make it clear what you want them to do? Do you have good Calls to Action on your pages and dedicated landing pages designed to convert them into a sale or to sign up for something.

Sharing great stuff with them – great content, social media and email marketing – means you can sell more to that customer and encourage them to enlist new customers by becoming promoters.

MoFu – Middle of Funnel

When it comes to closing the leads, some of this may take place online, but this is often where the sales team comes in – either via email, on the phone or in person.

“The sales function is vital, and this is often how people will sign on the dotted line or make a purchase from you.”

Equally important is customer engagement. It costs businesses twenty times more to bring in a new customer, so bear in mind those costs, and the value of keeping the customers you’ve already won. It’s not just the on-sell, up-sell and lifetime relationship, but also the value of referrals.

“What’s REALLY important is the stage at the bottom of the inbound funnel.”

BoFu – Bottom of Funnel

In traditional marketing, when someone becomes your customer, the personal insight the sales person has gathered from them imay not captured anywhere. (Don’t forget, any data you store on a customer must be shared with them if they ask – this is a legal requirement).

This customer insight, how they think and feel and what makes them tick, or why they chose you over everyone else, isn’t always fed back by the sales team to the marketing team.

“Do you know what’s keeping your customer awake at night?”

The customer journey has changed

People skip through TV ads, they don’t like direct mail and are likely to unsubscribe from your company email. If this is what they’re doing, then we need to find a way to appear in their online journey at some point, with a variety of content.

The balance of power now sits very firmly in the hands of the customer.  Online reviews, on sites such as Trip Advisor, Which and Trust Pilot, help to build ‘social proof’. They are frequently visited when people are deciding on making purchases for themselves, their homes and their businesses. We all do it, and ask friends for their opinions too before making a decision.

Customers have a lot of choice and are empowered to leave reviews. This can become a spectator sport, with people making complaints without really wanting a resolution, they’re just trying to get a rise out of you. Aim to enlist your customers as promoters.

How will they know they can trust you?

Think about your customer and the kind of information they want – they want you to be more transparent and open. Everyone has been burned by something they bought online, which looked great but was disappointing in real life. Building trust is harder than ever.

You need to answer their questions somewhere, ideally on your website with a piece of content or on social media. If customers can’t find the answers, they’ll move on immediately and probably won’t be back.

Shifting sands

This power shift between consumer and brand has changed the way we do business and marketing, but it’s also had a huge impact on the way we manage sales. The sales team is in pole position, because their insights and customer experience help bridge gap.

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 tour 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 Mike Enerio on Unsplash
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Joanne DolezalContent Marketing and the Inbound Funnel