How To Make Sure Your Email Marketing Strategy Survives GDPR


Disclaimer: This article is not meant to replace legal advice for GDPR compliance. Instead, Skaled’s expertise in Sales and Marketing helps provide you with a better understanding of how the new EU privacy laws might impact your business. We ask that you do not rely on this as legal advice, or as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding.

If you are responsible for your company’s revenue, then no doubt you’re thinking about GDPR’s impact on sales.

As GDPR enforcement looms ahead, making sure your sales team and strategy are well-prepared should be at the top of your list.

In previous articles we covered how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will impact the way you collect data and build lists, and what non-compliance could lead to. Considering email is a go-to sales and marketing channel for many sales teams, in this article, you’ll find out how GDPR will specifically impact your email marketing strategy.

What Does GDPR Mean For Email Marketing?

Quite a lot actually.

In a nutshell, under GDPR’s requirement for consent, whenever you handle personal data from anyone within the EU, you will need to get permission to use it, clearly specifying why you want the data and what you’re going to do with it.

In terms of your existing database, most companies will work to re-opt in users before the May 25th deadline, but many expect a 20-60% decline in their mailing list.

As you can imagine, GDPR will also affect how you collect personal emails moving forward, so before we get into the details of rebuilding your email list, let’s review the right way to ask for consent and collect data under GDPR.

How to Obtain Consent and Gather Emails Under GDPR

Moving forward, if you want to add someone to your email list, you will need to:

  • Request authorization to use their email
  • Express your request in simple language
  • Explain your purpose for obtaining the data and how you plan to use it
  • Maintain proof of consent

In addition to this, you will need to differentiate between how marketing and sales plan to use the information and get permission for all of these uses.

Even once you obtain consent, the data owner can withdraw it or request that you erase their data at any time, which means you’re required to provide clear opt-out procedures. For example, make sure your emails contain an unsubscribe link, along with a link to edit and manage data preferences.

GDPR Email Marketing Best Practices:

  • Specify purpose for email address collection
  • State privacy policy in your opt-in forms
  • Implement double-opt in process (not a GDPR requirement, but definitely a good idea)
  • Make sure data will be used only for the purpose stated in the opt-in form
  • Include clear instructions on how users can opt-out or delete information
  • If user requests to delete information, double-check it was promptly deleted from your list
  • Keep track of when and where the information comes from


Read on to find out the type of challenges GDPR could present to your email strategy and how other channels can help you generate leads.

GDPR’s Impact on Your Email Strategy and How to Rebuild Your Pipeline

As you’ve seen, GDPR consent requirements affect how you seek, collect and record personal data.

After May 25th, your team will only be able to reach out to those who opt-in (or re-opt in) to your mailing list. Considering that 60% of Europeans said they would opt out of receiving emails from companies, your mailing list will probably shrink.

Needless to say, you’ll want to have a lead generation plan in mind to leverage other strategies and channels to rebuild your mailing list with engaged subscribers.

Social Networking Sites

Networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook include ‘implied consent’ covered by the terms and conditions in their sign-up process. Although GDPR will have some impacts on LinkedIn and Facebook, for example, members will have more control over how their data is used for ad targeting, you will still be able to generate leads through these platforms.

Direct mail

Since GDPR regulations do not require companies to gain explicit consent for post mail, direct mail marketing could be making a comeback. Though you will still need to show that the person receiving the mail has a legitimate interest in your materials and “would not be likely to object.” 

Physical and Online Events

Businesses will have to get even more creative to attract new, engaged users. For many, a good strategy will be to direct more attention to online and physical events. Online events, such as webinars, offer a valuable way to capture leads as do physical events including exhibitions, trade shows, and conferences.  

With online events, you’ll want to make sure your registration forms are GDPR compliant; request only the data you will use and specifically ask attendees to opt in for your marketing emails. And in both cases, even if you capture someone’s information, you have to clearly explain what it will be used for.

Cold Calling

Calling will remain “opt-out” rather than “opt-in” which means call channels will heat up again and become an even larger part of an outreach strategy. However, keep in mind that the medium may become saturated and quickly lose its effectiveness.

Of course, your investment into these other mediums will depend on how much of your mailing list opts-out and how prepared you are once GDPR enforcement comes into full effect.

The bottom line, is that GDPR can be an opportunity for you to match your solutions to engaged customers through a process of guiding them, providing support and building trust. In the end, this will prove to be more effective.

Skaled can help you optimize your sales and marketing strategy so your Sales team can drive results in the GDPR-age. For more information, write to us here.

This blog post is part of our series of articles examining the impact GDPR will have on your Sales and Marketing strategy. Read more here:

eBook: The GDPR Guide for B2B Executives and Sales Leaders

How Failure to Comply with GDPR Will Impact Executives

How GDPR Will Impact The Way Your Business Collects Data and Builds Lists

Top 6 Issues Executives Need to Know About GDPR’s Impact on Sales


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