4 tips for building your email database after losing your subscribers

GDPR. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stand for Gin, Disaronno, Prosecco or Rum... even though it may have driven a few of us to it. Cheers!

 But what does GDPR mean for marketers, and in particular, email marketing? In brief, GDPR is reinforcing what should have already been in place across organisations - that marketing emails are sent to those who want to receive them, and that subscriber information (in particular personally identifiable information - or PII) is kept safe, and stored in a secure location.

It sounds simple, but email lists often build up over years and years, and it can be hard to trace consent (especially if subscribers are obtained from taking business cards at an exhibition, or other non-digital formats). The need to get consent, via the recommended double opt-in process, has caused email marketing lists to dramatically reduce in size. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing - if they’ve not resubscribed, would they have likely been influenced to take action by your content anyway? Perhaps this disengaged list was causing your consistently low click-through-rate that you feared presenting every month?

Nonetheless, a loss of subscribers is disheartening.

To put some momentum back into your email marketing strategy, we’ve put together 4 tips on rebuilding your subscriber list (and it’s just a coincidence that these tips begin with G,D,P, and R). Over time, the methods outlined below will grow your list organically and create an engaged readership.

G - Google - organic search

Everybody is searching for something. To grow your list of subscribers, the content produced for your website should be written to answer common problems that your audience face, or answer FAQs relevant to your product, service or offering. Ultimately, it should be written to meet the search intent of your target audience. But how do you find these questions? The following methods reveal valuable search insight to be exploited by your content creators:

  • AnswerThePublic.com - built by the company behind Coverage Book, this tool provides a visualisation of search data. Give it a go! If you sell pet food, for example, type in pet food and many questions and propositions surrounding this term will appear. Weave these search terms into your content, meet search intent in your copy, and hopefully, enjoy increased organic traffic.
  • The same data can be obtained by typing in keywords into Google’s search bar (and collecting the drop down data) as well as using the information in the “searches related to” section of the search engine results page. 

In your new targeted content, encourage readers to subscribe to your newsletter as the primary call to action, with the promise of more great content geared towards solving common problems and tapping into areas of specific interest. You are the expert in your field - capitalise on this knowledge in your content marketing.

D - Design - evaluate your newsletter sign-up form 

Don’t bug your website’s visitors by setting up intrusive pop-ups designed to coerce people into signing up, or by employing emotive language (read: slightly passive aggressive language: “No - I don’t want more leads”). The people that sign up this way are more likely to unsubscribe later on, and contribute to an embarrassing click-through-rate. Read a fantastic blog on this subject here. Manipulative practices such as this have played a small part in the need for GDPR in the first place (for example, by using strategies based on “forced consent”), and the lack of trust some people have in digital marketing.

Present a simple sign-up form and make it clear on what data you’re collecting and why. And while you’re thinking about the process of data capture across your site, is it time to consider if your entire site needs a redesign? Is your current design reassuring users that they have landed in the right place, and that you’re a trusted source?

P - Paid social media advertising

Drive relevant traffic to your website and home in on your target audience using paid social media advertising (read this guide on what GDPR means for social media strategies). Publishing social ads is often a cost-effective method of reaching a large audience. A targeted social strategy enables you to target an audience based on factors such as:

  • Job titles
  • Interests
  • Location

Driving highly targeted traffic to your site, and presenting the great content marketing you’ve already created as part of your new SEO campaign, will rebuild your database over time.

Tip: If your target audience is likely to be at a specific exhibition, publish an ad to appear on the Instagram or Facebook feeds of users in this locality.

R - Reflect and research

Take the time to reflect on your marketing strategies to date if your email marketing list has diminished - your previous list was disengaged, and this is absolutely not going to happen again. It’s time to research what your customers and potential customers want to read about. Speak to the members of your team who engage with customers on a regular basis and ask them the following - what common problems do our customers face? What are their pain points? How can we re-engage them? Combined with your new search insight data, craft your future email marketing strategy around this research and enjoy improved click-through-rates and a growing list. 

Although GDPR has resulted in a catastrophic blow to many lists, it's time for marketers to seize the opportunity to create a more engaged audience, as well as encourage better data hygiene in terms of its relevancy and security from this point forward.