Taking stock post-GDPR: Shouldn’t my customer base be more engaged?

Following GDPR, the expectation was that we’d be left with all our loyal, highly engaged, high-value customers. Although we may not have the deployment volumes we did before, like-for-like communication engagement metrics should paint an overall brighter picture. What if this ISN’T the case?

This leads us to consider, well, everything that may impact the success of your communications. Broadly speaking, it’s probably easiest to think about this in terms of CHANGE. More specifically, what is THE SAME, what has STEP-CHANGED and what is EVOLVING? Stick with me on this.

Question: What is THE SAME?

Answer: Marketing methodology

The basic rules to marketing method are unchanged and unchanging – the principles of the approach to generate and nurture relationships with customers are still what we’ve been barking on about for months, years, decades (for some of us, I’m one of the younger ones!)

I will summarise this in three points:

  • Focus on the customer-brand relationship. It’s called CRM, emphasis on the relationship. Consider the customer need and the business objective at every step. The value exchange in this relationship should always be front of mind. It’s like a see-saw.
  • Always, always, consider context. The best way to understand the relationship from the customer’s perspective is to get into the customer mindset. To understand the context of any one communication, take yourself on the customer journey and put yourself in the customer’s shoes at each step.
  • The rest is about HOW you achieve the above. The data, the tech, all the clever stuff. These are our ENABLERS.

But don’t get point 3 confused with points 1+2. If you’re not seeing results, make the effort to really get to know 1+2. 3 will always come along for the ride.

Question: What has STEP-CHANGED?

Answer: The make-up of your contactable customer database

You have *ahem* ‘recently’ experienced a transition brought about by GDPR. This is a step-change. After all, the shape of your contactable database changed overnight, right. If your engagement metrics haven’t skyrocketed, consider the following:

  • What rules did you use to inform continued contact post-GDPR? If you carried out a pre-GDPR data audit (you did, right?*) this will have informed who was already compliant for continued contact, who required to be reconsented and who needed to be placed carefully in the rubbish. These groups were defined and enforced using selection rules. The question is, what were these rules? For example, if you decided to keep only customers showing recent and frequent engagement – then clearly you should be left with a contactable base reflecting this behaviour. If not, you may consider revisiting those rules and the subsequent knock-on effect on data treatment impacting engagement metrics.

*Contact Edit here to find out more.

  • Are your communications aligned with your contactable customers’ profiling? If you’ve ditched some of your customer data, then this will impact upon your total pool of customers that can be profiled. Let’s say before GDPR you profiled the demographics for your entire customer base and this profile informed the positioning of the creative and messaging in your communications. There are two things to immediately be wary of here. Firstly, your communications are being sent to your contactable base only, so for application to the creative and messaging, you should conduct your profiling on these customers only. Secondly, post-GDPR the profile of your contactable base may look different, so it makes sense to analyse how this has changed and align your communications accordingly.

Question: What is EVOLVING?

Answer: Customer attitudes

Customers’ expectations are always on the up. Blah, blah, blah.

But customers are also on increasingly high alert. That step-change we just talked about, apparently, 92%** of our customers are aware of those 4 letters. But, it was found that over 1/3** of customers believe companies have used their personal data without their consent since the introduction of GDPR, such as continuing to bombard inboxes without consent. And guess what? Customers don’t like it.  There are a range of influences contributing to consumer wariness of sharing their data. Your brand has a real opportunity to differentiate and stand out!

So what’s the new formula for your customer-brand relationship’s happily ever after?

Just before GDPR, we talked about the 4 Rs for customer engagement, this is now more relevant than ever and comes down to reassuring nerves; recognising who calls the shots; delivering true relevancy, and reframing to install action. See the full blog post here.

I’d like to pull out 2 of these Rs to ignore at your peril in our evolving new world!

  • Reassuring nerves. To combat data anxiety, brands must demonstrate transparency from the start e.g. when customers register for email updates or newsletters. Making sure that you’re speaking to them in their own language, and explaining the value exchange as they part with personal information, can make the thought of entering your marketing funnel less daunting.
  • Recognising who calls the shots. Most people understand that signing up for marketing communications will result in them regularly receiving information from brands. However, the balance of power has shifted towards customers and will only keep shifting. Customers are now more selective in terms of brands they want to engage and share data with. Brands would do well to avoid falling into the short-term trap of driving sign-ups to hit sales targets, as this isn’t always effective to nurture meaningful relationships and repeat purchase.

**Source: Marketing Week/Toluna survey of 1,000 consumers


If we’re honest, we all breathed a sigh of relief on ‘getting through’ GDPR. The temptation is to go back to business as usual, thinking nothing more of it. But have you got a nagging feeling that you should be doing more?

To make things a little clearer, a helpful starting point is to think about CHANGE.

This post gives you some key building blocks to apply within your marketing strategy and help lift the way you communicate with your customers. Rather than just business as usual, focus on identifying and actioning the new usual.

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