I know, I know… GDPR is the thorn in all our sides at the moment. Especially GDPR mailing lists. I get it, I really do.
Here at Mummy Mama Mum HQ (that’s just my house, really) I’ve been doing all the research so you don’t have to! If you haven’t already spotted the Ultimate GDPR for Bloggers Compliance Package, head over and have a look. In it, I’ve included templates for all the policies you need, how to’s for making sure your mailing lists are GDPR compliant, re opting your existing list, a checklist for compliance, plugin audit sheets, templates for your opt-in forms and double opt-in email, and lots more! Until next Wednesday 16th May, use the code GDPR40 to get the whole package for just £40!
But let’s get onto mailing lists, shall we?
GDPR Mailing Lists
Before I get onto what exactly you need to do with your lists, I’m gonna start with some questions about mailing lists that have come up quite a lot over the last few weeks.
“I don’t have a mailing list, so I don’t need to worry about GDPR, right?”
Nah-uh. As much as I hate to be the bearer of GDPR news, you need to think about GDPR in terms of your website as much as you do your mailing list(s). Lots of things on our sites fall under the remit of GDPR, and I’ve covered them here.
“I have text on my current sign up form that deffo makes my list(s) GDPR compliant, so I don’t need my list to re opt-in, do I?”
Most of us will need to get our current subscribers to re opt-in. If, for example, your opt-in form says “sign up for your freebie and regular emails” this is not compliant. Even if your opt-in form says “Pop your email address in for your freebie, to be added to our list to receive a weekly newsletter, marketing emails, and product recommendations. We don’t believe in spam, so you’ll never get any from us!” this is still not compliant.
The GDPR requires what’s called ‘granularity of consent’. What this basically means is that you can’t bundle several types of communication into one consent like in the example above. You’ll need to have separate tick boxes for each type of communication (e.g. 1 box for newsletter, 1 for marketing, and 1 for product recommendations). I’ll go into this more in a bit.
“I don’t sell anything, so there’s no point me adding in anything about selling or marketing, is there?”
Well, it really depends. If you want to be able to send affiliate links to your list, then yes you do. If you never want to create and sell a product, send affiliate links, or even non-affiliate links recommending something you use, then no, you don’t.
But my thinking is this; maybe you’ve just started out and the idea of creating your own product feels like a pipe dream right now. Or you don’t plan on ever selling right now, but plans change. Let’s say next year you think “f*** it, I’m gonna write an e-book!” Your issue will be that no-one on your current list will have agreed to be sent info via email about your product, so you won’t be able to tell them about it!
I’d say if there’s even a vague possibility that you might want to in future, add it in now.
“Isn’t this going to decimate my sign up rate? I’ll lose most of my list!”
Yes, probably. Sorry. Actually, #SorryNotSorry. Let me ask you this; what’s your email open rate? If you have 1000 people on your list, and only 12% of them regularly open your emails, then that’s 880 pretty pointless people on your list. When they fail to re opt-in, you’ll be left with maybe 100 people who always open your emails and are absolutely your people.
You’ll have a totally captive audience who want to hear what you have to say. Plus your new subscribers will be true fans, willing to agree beyond any doubt that they want to hear from you. I’d say that’s a win!
Onto the Good Stuff
Okay, if you still think you need to deal with your mailing lists, let’s talk about how to actually get it done.
It’s gonna take you a bit of time to get your new GDPR mailing lists up and running, but once it’s done, that’s it. You’re sorted (mostly).
Most of what I’m going to tell you is relevant to mailing lists no matter which email service provider you use, but in terms of the actual tech and setup, I use MailChimp, so the tech info will cover lists on MailChimp.
Updating Your Current List
The very first thing you need to do is log in to your provider and have a look at all your lists. Firstly, do you have too many? If, like lots of bloggers, you’ve set up a brand new list for every single one of your opt-ins, then you need to have a think about that. I’ll go onto groups rather than lists in a mo.
Decide on which list will be your main list, and head to that list. Click ‘settings’ and ‘list name & defaults’. Make sure that ‘enable double opt-in’ and ‘Enable GDPR fields’ are both checked. Then go into ‘signup forms’ and ‘form builder’. You should now see a section on your main sign up form for ‘Marketing Permissions’. If you click in that area of the signup form and scroll back up, you should see a field settings box on the right of the screen.
You need to add a description and customise the legal text. I have templates for both of these here. Then you need to add all the options for all the types of communication you’d like to send. For example, ‘newsletter’, ‘freebies’, ‘info about my products & services’, and ‘info about other fab products’. These are all the things that your subs may choose (or not choose) to be emailed about.
Using Groups Rather Than Lists
It’s not necessary to have a new list for every opt-in you have. You can achieve the same result by using groups within 1 list, and really by having lots of lists you’re just increasing your workload.
To set up groups for opt-ins within MailChimp, simply navigate to your list, then hit manage contacts and scroll down to groups. Set up groups using radio buttons so that new subs can choose the welcome gift they’d like (one subscriber can be part of several or all of your groups, but they’ll need to sign up to each group). This way, you only have 1 opt-in form, 1 set of GDPR checkboxes, and groups to manage within that list. Each of your group options should be each of your opt-ins.You should only need 1 option within each group, which should be the opt-in freebie.
If you have lots of opt-ins, I’d really consider narrowing them down. Ideally, you want one or two epic opt-ins for each ‘segment’ of your ideal reader (for the master of ideal readers and reader buckets, head here or head here – Aby explains it waaaaay better than I ever could!)
Once you have your groups, you’ll need to change your welcome series so that it is generic (“your freebie is on its way”, rather than “your GDPR compliance checklist is on its way”). Then there are two options; you can either turn off your final welcome email altogether, or use it to provide some other value (links to amazing content, your story etc) before your new sub receives their freebie (or welcome gift – I’ll explain more in just a sec 😉 )
To send the right freebie depending on which group your new sub has chosen, you need to set up an email campaign (one email or a sequence) for each group.
Sending Emails to Separate Groups
Once your groups are set up, head to ‘Campaigns’ and ‘Create a campaign’. Choose the ’email’ option, and change the type to ‘automated’. Choose the pre-set automation ‘Welcome New Subscribers’, and name the campaign using the name of your first opt-in (if you have more than 1).
Select your list from the drop down and hit ‘begin’. Then you’re going to need to edit the trigger and change to send ‘immediately’ when a user subscribes to your list. This will make sure your freebie or welcome gift sends as soon as the new sub has completed the sign up process.
Finally, you want to edit the segment of subscribers that this email will send to. Click ‘edit segment’ and ‘choose segmentation options’. Make sure you change ‘subscribers match any of the following conditions’ to ‘all‘. Then add the first option, which should be ‘Marketing Permissions’ and choose one of your GDPR options (I recommend calling one of your options something like ‘freebies’). Add a second rule and choose the group that relates to the opt-in you’re working on.
Save the segment, edit the email, and add your freebie or welcome gift link into the email. That’s it. Now what happens is when someone signs up to your list, agrees through the GDPR boxes to receive freebies, and chooses to be sent your opt-in #1, this workflow will be triggered and send them this email with the opt-in in it.
A note on opt-in freebies or lead magnets; GDPR says that data processing (e.g. collecting emails) will not be considered compliant if the action or service could have reasonably been done without collecting the email or data. You can give away a freebie by linking to it on your site. Simples. What you really want is for people to sign up to your list, so you need to be open & honest about that. Signing up to your list is then what people are choosing to do, and you’re giving them a ‘Welcome to the list’ gift out of the goodness of your heart. Aww, ain’t you lovely!
Creating Saved Segments to Use Later
Moving forwards, you’re probably going to want saved segments to make sure you’re always sending the right emails to right people. So I’d recommend setting up some saved segments. There will be lots of options based on your marketing (GDPR) permissions and groups, depending on how many opt-ins you have, so I’ll just run through setting up a freebie segment and saving it. The principles will be the same for all the other options.
Head to your list, choose ‘manage contacts, and ‘segments’. Click ‘create segment’ and make sure you change ‘subscribers match any of the following conditions’ to ‘all‘. Then add the first option, which should be ‘Marketing Permissions’ and choose one of your GDPR options (I recommend calling one of your options something like ‘freebies’). Add a second rule and choose the group that relates to your first opt-in.
Hit ‘preview segment’ and don’t worry if you get a Goose Egg notice. All this means is that you don’t have anyone in your list who’s agreed to those two options yet. Click ‘save as segment’ and name your segment something like “GDPR Confirmed <freebie name> Welcome Gift”. This will make it easier to recognise each of your segments in future.
To send campaigns to saved segments, all you need to do is follow the steps to creating a campaign above, until you get to ‘edit segment’. When you get to this stage, simply click “subscriber is a member of saved segment” and choose your saved segment.
I’d recommend setting up all your segment variations in advance, simply because it’ll make your life easier in the long run, but you don’t absolutely have to do that right now.
Re Opting-in Your Current Subscribers
The bit we all want to know! So now you’ve set up your list to be GDPR compliant, have all your saved segments ready for sending emails, now you need to ease your existing subs into at least one of those segments.
MailChimp has a couple of options to get this done. The chances are you will lose subs in the process, but as we established earlier, that’s actually okay.
Your two main options are;
- Set up a brand new list following the steps above to ensure it’s GDPR compliant, then start emailing your subs the link to the new list and asking them to sign up to it. Explain that they’ll get an epic welcome gift, and why you need them to switch over.
- Send your subs an update profile/preferences link & request. Again, explain why and big up that gift. In MailChimp, the way to send a customised profile update link is to add this merge tag where you want the link to show *|UPDATE_PROFILE|* What this does, is inserts a link which is unique to each subscriber and takes them to a page where they can update their details and choose your new group and GDPR options. If you go with this option, you’ll want to customise the profile update form in the form builder, too.
In my opinion, the update profile option is best if you have a medium to large list that you really want to keep. The link that’s inserted isn’t pretty, but it does the job. If you don’t have many subs yet, or they’re not very engaged, then maybe opt for a brand new list.
Still Have Questions About GDPR Mailing Lists?
I recorded this live to help to answer all your GDPR questions. Click the video link above to set your reminder. Also, feel free to comment your questions on the scheduled live video now, so that I can answer them later, If you can’t make it tonight, don’t worry the video will be available on replay.
Alternatively, feel free to leave your questions in the comments box below, or check out my other posts about GDPR.
Don’t forget, you can grab the Ultimate GDPR Compliance for Bloggers Package too, which is only £40 until 16.5.18 when the price will go up. The package includes all the templates you need to get your site and lists ready for GDPR.