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How Changing Global Data Privacy Laws Affect Email Marketing (and How AdRoll Can Help)

Chris Van Wagoner

Director, Lifecycle Marketing @ AdRoll

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Prior to the launch of  General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), many were concerned about how they would be able to effectively market to consumers. These concerns weren’t unfounded — in fact, there were reports that some brands lost up to 80% of customers in their email lists. This change forced businesses to rethink the customer experience. In a survey by Smart Insights, 41% of consumers said that post-GDPR, they were feeling better and more confident about how companies got their email addresses

While GDPR and other privacy laws may have altered the landscape, with the right tools and tactics, brands can optimize their email strategies to accommodate the privacy needs of their customers and improve the performance of their campaigns. Here are five email marketing challenges brought on by online privacy regulations, and how AdRoll can help.

In this article:
Email Challenge #1: Growing Customer Email Lists
Email Challenge #2: Increasing Customer Engagement Rates
Email Challenge #3: Meeting Anti-Spam Regulations
Email Challenge #4: Enabling Customers to Unsubscribe
Email Challenge #5: Boosting ROI of Email Campaigns

Email Challenge #1: Growing Customer Email Lists

One of the objectives of data privacy laws is to discourage the unwelcome distribution of promotional and commercial emails to consumers. It’s not just about stopping spam — it's about helping people protect their inboxes from emails they don’t want to receive.

Building email distribution lists for marketing purposes has definitely become more challenging under the various digital privacy guidelines because brands are now required by law to ask customers for permission to add their email to the list. This creates an extra step in the process, which naturally deters many potential customers from becoming email recipients. It also adds extra work for email marketers who need to craft, design, and implement this step every time they ask for the customer’s email address. 

The AdRoll Solution: AdRoll’s Email Capture is a lightweight pop-up that allows interested users to subscribe to marketing emails. The Email Capture solution is customizable and easy to implement. It also includes compliance guidelines outlining the privacy information that must be included within email messages — things like legal statements, and company details. Find out more about AdRoll Email Capture

For additional reading on email lists:

Email Challenge #2: Increasing Customer Engagement Rates

We have all been on the receiving end of cold emails, spam, and phishing attempts, so it’s not surprising that consumers are still somewhat skeptical of promotional messages. With data privacy laws, things actually improved. Consumers were now protected by “opt-in” requirements that reduced the number of suspicious, irrelevant, or too frequently received emails. 

With the global privacy laws in place today, businesses must get the customer’s express permission to receive marketing emails. On the one hand, this creates an extra barrier on the road to building a relationship with the customer. On the other hand, the customer has to make a conscious choice to receive emails, which means they really want to be on that marketing list. Brands no longer need to waste time on half-hearted customers who immediately delete their emails. Rather, the “opt-in” step brought about by global privacy laws is an important key to reaching high-quality, engaged audiences and strengthening their relationship with the brand.

The AdRoll Solution: AdRoll Email provides an “opt-in” function that meets global privacy laws, so brands can easily comply while reaching actively engaged audiences. Depending on which privacy laws are applicable in their country or industry, brands can use single opt-in, which subscribes the customer to an email list in just one click, or double opt-in, where the customer must confirm their initial opt-in with a second click. Read more about using email opt-ins with AdRoll. 

Email Challenge #3: Meeting Anti-Spam Regulations

Email spam has always been a problem, but the news is good. Spam rates are going down every year. In January 2014, spam made up an incredible 70% of monthly email traffic, while in December 2019, it was just over 57%. 

This trend can be attributed in large part to global anti-spam laws that are being enforced and updated all the time. Penalties for non-compliance can be stiff, which means that all brands and businesses that send emails for marketing purposes need to take extra care. And here’s where it gets tricky. Anti-spam email regulations have a lot of stipulations about what actually classifies an email as spam, and these can vary from region to region. 

For example, the U.S.’s CAN-SPAM law requires that the business’s physical address be displayed somewhere in the email. Subject lines can in no way be misleading or deceptive about the promotional nature of the email. Plus, the email body must indicate clearly that its purpose is for advertising or promotion. 

In addition, email providers such as Gmail have their own anti-spam systems to combat unwanted emails on behalf of their users, even going so far as to assign “Reputation scores” for businesses. Businesses who send low-quality or spammy emails can find themselves with a poor reputation score, which means they will end up in spam boxes or even blacklisted. 

While a legitimate business will naturally adhere to most of the anti-spam guidelines as par for the course, there is still a need to stay on top of the various stipulations so that brands don’t run the risk of missing even the smallest detail. 

The AdRoll Solution: AdRoll’s email templates are designed to meet anti-spam regulations by including all the necessary anti-spam data fields by default, such as a business address, opt-in checkboxes, unsubscribe links, and more. AdRoll clients simply need to enter the relevant information, and the email will automatically achieve anti-spam compliance. What’s more, AdRoll is continually working to maintain industry trust by monitoring the quality of email campaigns and ensuring content policies are adhered to at all times. Read more about that here and here

Use our checklist to avoid spam filters:

Email Challenge #4: Enabling Customers to Unsubscribe

As far as customer engagement goes, email is an impressive tool, with average open rates of 17.8%. Yet there’s a downside too, namely the “unsubscribe” link. The average unsubscribe rate for email campaigns is around 0.1%. Interestingly, Tuesdays get the highest customer engagement with emails, but it is also the day that gets the most unsubscribe requests, too. 

Customers unsubscribe from email lists for a wide variety of reasons. They may only be interested in a specific offer, like an eBook download, and don’t want to receive any more emails. Or the email campaign is not segmented enough, so the customer has little interest in the content. Another reason why customers unsubscribe is when a brand sends out too many emails, clogging up inboxes and causing frustration.

According to global data privacy laws, brands are obligated to give customers a clear option to unsubscribe — no matter what the reason. Every marketing email must include an unsubscribe link where the recipient can choose to opt-out of receiving emails. The unsubscribe request must be honored and the email address scrubbed from the list within 10 business days by law

The AdRoll Solution: AdRoll Email provides a built-in “Unsubscribe” feature so advertisers can easily comply with GDPR, CAN-SPAM, and Canada’s CASL anti-spam laws, among others. AdRoll’s solution supports list-unsubscribe, which is a one-click unsubscribe function directly in the email header (great for mobile), as well as a footer option, with the unsubscribe link displayed together with the business’s contact details at the bottom of the email body. Any unsubscribed email addresses are recorded by AdRoll and suppressed for future campaigns. Find out more about AdRoll Email Unsubscribe

Email Challenge #5: Boosting ROI of Email Campaigns

There are many reasons why an email campaign may be less than successful. It could be due to low delivery rates, low open rates, high unsubscribe rates, low active ratio (meaning that the ratio of people who engaged with the email versus those who didn’t is poor), or low post-click activity, when few recipients engaged with the content the email linked to.

Global data privacy laws add another layer of confusion for marketers, who must contend with all kinds of restrictions about how to craft emails and who to send them to. However, there are many ways to optimize email campaigns while still remaining fully compliant with anti-spam and privacy regulations. For example, customers who have actively opted in to receive emails are likely more engaged than random individuals. If any of these customers show further interest by visiting the brand website, they can be retargeted by email with an incentive offer, such as a discount. 

Rather than harming email marketing results, the engaged and interested email audience created by global privacy regulations can be targeted more accurately than ever before.

The AdRoll Solution: With AdRoll Email, brands can import their existing audiences and set up campaign goals to track and optimize email ROI. There are several campaign goals that AdRoll supports, including starter campaigns, cart abandonment recovery, and selling to past purchasers. Read more about them here. AdRoll also supports A/B testing, where advertisers can test several elements of an email, from content to subject line and time of delivery. All these ROI-boosting solutions are simple for brands to execute while remaining in full compliance with global data privacy laws. 

For additional reading around how to maximize your email campaign performance: 

Make Data Privacy Your Friend

As global data privacy laws continue to be a hot topic, marketers should remain thoughtful about how they approach communication requirements. With careful planning and the right privacy tools, data privacy compliance, and the implementation of customer-centric best practices can improve relationships and deliver email campaign success.

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