Blog / 2nd August 2018

Forging stronger customers relationships through highly-relevant communications and automated experiences.

Posted by Alex Klose

GDPR has left many marketers with depleted email marketing databases. It may feel bleak, but all is not lost. Here’s how marketers can adjust their strategy to drive success in a post GDPR world.

It’s been nearly two months after GDPR came to affect and marketers are still experiencing a collective GDPR hangover. With the pre-deadline email frenzy over, it’s time to survey the wreckage – and for many, it isn’t pretty.

Just before the GDPR deadline, 25th May, many B2C organisations diligently asked their customers whether they still wanted to hear from them. But only 25-30% of recipients opened GDPR-related emails, which may seem high when compared to general marketing email performance, many never replied with that all-important opt-in.

The result? Email databases have been depleted, with some companies having lost up to 80% of their contacts. With their reliance on email marketing no longer a viable option, marketers have been left in a bind. The pressure to successfully engage customers hasn’t diminished, but the population of addressable contacts has been decimated almost overnight.

Not only that, on top of the general GDPR demands put on businesses, there is an additional requirement to allow customers to manage their own marketing preferences – in terms of how they want to engage with a brand. But as we know it can be challenging for any large business to align siloed business systems to ensure processes and information is updated in real-time.

So, how can marketers adjust their post-GDPR strategy to not only get back on their feet but also set up and run successful marketing campaigns, while staying on the right side of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)?

Here are my three recommendations: 

1) Explore both new and traditional messaging channels

Faced with a shrunken database, marketers will likely be tempted to think that their no.1 priority is to rebuild it with opted-in email contacts. But their focus should be on other channels, particularly messaging-based ones, like the 2.20 billion strong Facebook Messenger or the good old mobile number, which in today’s mobile-centric communication approach becomes ever more valuable to updating and engaging customers.

Despite electronic means of marketing coming with their own set of regulations (PECR), GDPR has created a great business case for exploring and investing in these channels. They are used excessively by consumers as part of their day-to-day lives and increasingly being adopted for B2C communications – 75% of all Millennials would rather communicate via text about appointments, deliveries and coupons.

Dependent on which channels you deem a priority (Need help deciding? Check out our Messaging+ eGuide), a different approach is needed for gathering consent via OTT and traditional telco channels. For SMS, consent can be gathered for message-based marketing by an opt-in CTA (Call-To-Action), like a customer texting a keyword into a short code, or to be even safer a double opt-in, such as a tick box combined with a short code reply to verify a customer’s mobile number.

With channels like Facebook Messenger and Twitter, it’s the customer who must initiate contact first. Therefore, the challenge is giving a reason for a customer to start using these channels to engage with a business and then give consent through them. It can start with an appointment reminder service or a simple customer service chat – but the idea is to bring them into the channel, provide a valuable service, transparently gather consent, and then start to create the marketing experiences that prove the value of being an opted-in customer.

2) Increase the value of communications to encourage and keep customers opted-in

As mobile messaging channels are favoured by customers, marketers can take advantage of the continued investment in channel capabilities, layered with the automation potential of a cloud communications orchestration platform, to create highly personalised, relevant customer communications. Not a generic subject line in a crowded inbox that simply provides a link somewhere else.

RCS (Rich Communication Services), an evolution of SMS, is the perfect example. The channel offers real-time two-way messaging, rich media, buttons, carousels, deep links, and AI-assistance, to create marketing communications that WOW customers.

The image below shows an RCS banking experience example we have created and showcased at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. Store visit data is used to identify that a customer has recently visited a branch to pay a bill, this then can trigger a relevant communication based on that customer’s action – in this case about the mobile banking app that helps to streamline billing services. The customer can then interact with the message to find out more information, fulfil the billing process, or download the mobile app to make future payments directly via the app.

Barclays RCS marketing use case

The same approach can even apply to email. Take a utility bill, for example. Previously, a customer might expect to receive notification of a bill via email, with a link to view it. But while this might be great for click-through rates, it’s not a valuable interaction for the customer. Including useful data in the email such as energy consumption stats with personalised tips for reducing consumption, instantly turns it into a communication that customers are more likely to open.

3) Consent must be managed in real-time across the business

Many enterprises have introduced consent management systems to help automate the management of customer preferences. However, enterprises already face huge challenges with aligning and connecting business systems, with a single view of customer data difficult to achieve due to disjointed marketing, operational, customer service, and CRM systems.

Combine this with multiple departments engaging over multiple channels, and there’s a real risk of introducing unintentional compliance breaches. A customer unsubscribing from a marketing email, for example, will naturally think their preference has been automatically updated. But if the consent management system isn’t updating their data in real-time across the business – a customer could get sent an email from another part of the company, leaving them at risk of a fine.

An orchestration layer, a central hub for linking business systems across an organisation and enabling real-time data management can avoid is communication crossover. Such an orchestration layer will also allow marketers to centrally manage and integrate communication channels across back-end systems to enable multi-channel preference management and create a single customer view of customer consent across the entire business.

GDPR, an opportunity for marketers

I believe GDPR is an opportunity for marketers to improve how they use mobile and digital messaging channels to forge stronger customers relationships through highly-relevant communications and automated experiences beyond email, the marketing workhorse of marketers. If you’d like to find out more about how you can start using new digital communication channels, AI and customer journey orchestration to get more from your marketing in a post-GDPR world, get in touch.

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