Cleaning a mailing list for GDPR

We’re helping a couple of clients at the moment clean their mailing lists ahead of GDPR. By this I mean if any of their subscribers didn’t double opt-in, or didn’t sign up inline with the consent rules of GDPR, then they need to be asked to rejoin.

For one client, Graven Hill, we started by merging their various mailing lists into 1 in MailChimp. They only wanted one list but for various reasons they’d started several along the way and this tidy up was the perfect time to get everything aligned.

The plan was to send their subscribers a message basically saying “do you want to carry on hearing from us? Yes/No”. So we used the MailChimp API to create some landing pages on their website - a Yes page and a No page. The Yes page, as you might expect, thanked people for staying with them, and the No page said Graven Hill was sorry to see them go! A further idea considered was the option on the No page of a button to opt in again incase they’d clicked no by accident.

The Yes page also included extra questions so the Graven Hill marketing team could glean a bit more info about the primary interests of their subscribers and so understand why they are interested in Graven Hill. Again, this was just a bit more API work. Clicking Yes from the email instantly secured their spot on the mailing list - answering the questions was a bonus.

Once everything was set up, we sent the mailing from their MailChimp account and at the same time updated their website’s sign up form to be double opt on so that from the point of the mailing onwards all automatic subscribers will be GDPR compliant.

In a couple of weeks we’re going to repeat the mailing to anyone who didn’t respond to the first.

When planning this project there were thoughts around whether it’d be best to create a new mailing list, and add people who click Yes, vs. updating an existing mailing list with a column denoting who has clicked Yes / double opted in. If you go down the route of a new list, clicking No simply doesn't need to do anything to the new list but could mark the person as having resonded to the first email (so you don't bother them again). Or if you're updating your current list, clicking No would remove the subsscriber, and then you can clean out anyone who hasn't replied at the end of May. Which way you go with it will depend on your existing set up.

Interestingly, MailChimp’s recommended way of handling this process is to delete your existing mailing list and email all your contacts from your regular email, asking them to sign up to a new list. That’d work, and is a great solution for clients on a tighter budget, but if you can afford to get API work done the process above is a lot smoother and so, I would expect, more likely to keep a higher percentage of subscribers as no effort is required other than a single click.

For another client, who uses SendInBlue rather than MailChimp, we are having to ask subscribers to sign up to a new list. They are being sent an email asking if they still want to be kept up to date with news from that client, and when they click Yes they’re taken to a branded landing page with the new list’s sign up form on it, where we’ve already populated their email address so they just have to click “subscribe”. We wanted the process to include as few steps as possible, hence auto filling the email address so there’s still very little for the subscriber to do.

If you want a hand with cleaning your mailing list ahead of GDPR, please do get in touch.

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