When it comes to promoting events, Eventbrite’s Pulse Report shows email is still the number one weapon in the event organiser’s arsenal.

But with the deadline for GDPR compliance looming, you might be panicking about how your email database will be affected?

To find out what the email marketing landscape will look like post-May 2018, we spoke to Tink Taylor, Founder and CEO of dotmailer, a leading email marketing platform. Dotmailer boasts more than 70,000 clients including brands such as Converse, Paperchase and Screwfix.

1. There’s no need to worry about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation reducing your email list size

Freaking out that people won’t re-opt in to your email list? Don’t. According to Tink, those who have been following the best practices that have been around for years will have a highly engaged database. People who are engaged with your communications will respond to your permission pass campaign. Those who won’t are the ones not currently engaging with you anyway; they’re not opening your emails, they’re not clicking, they’re not buying event tickets. Therefore, losing them from your list is no loss – they are unlikely to suddenly start converting.

2. The threat of fines is not the only reason to keep your email lists clean and healthy

Non-compliance with GDPR legislation could mean fines of up to €20 million; pretty scary, but there is another really good reason to only send emails to consumers who wish to receive them. Non-engagement can result in big problems for email marketers because it makes email receivers (ISPs) such Gmail think you’re a spammer.

Tink says that ISPs use algorithms to help ascertain which emails are spam, and one way they judge this is the level of engagement emails from a particular sender enjoy. Interestingly, how the ISPs measure engagement is different from how marketers track them (opens and clicks etc.). The ISPs look at positive and negative behaviours to determine where to place your email, be that in the inbox, a sub folder or spam folder. Lead initially by Gmail, with more ISPs following suit, they will look at recipient behaviour like deleting the email without reading, marking it as spam or moving it to a folder to store it.

So, if your emails are never opened by a large percentage of the people you send them to, you could end up having deliverability issues. Consequently, you should regularly review your email list and remove disengaged individuals. Consider what is a typical sales cycle for your events and therefore what the likelihood is of customers making a repeat purchase after a certain period, this would then be the sensible time to stop mailing unengaged users.

3. Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to collect email addresses

If cleaning your list leaves you with barely enough email addresses to fill an A4 piece of paper, don’t despair. GDPR doesn’t mean you can’t collect more, new email addresses – you should double, or triple your efforts to do so. According to Tink, the US is far more switched on to collecting customer details than we are here in the UK.

In America, it’s usual to be asked for your email address in a store, so the retailer can email you a receipt instead of giving a printed one. At the same time, they also take the opportunity to ask you to opt in for marketing. Tink believes consumers to be inherently open to marketing from brands they buy from and therefore we shouldn’t shy away from trying to collect customer data. Whenever you have contact with a customer (or potential customer), whether online or offline, give them the opportunity to opt in to your mailing list and make sure you do it in the correct way so you have demonstrable permission.

4. Big data and marketing automation can make email campaigns more much effective

For email campaigns to really work they need to engage the recipient. The “batch and blast”, one-message-to-everyone days are over, says Tink. Marketers need to send the right emails at exactly the right time and to do this you need two things – data and automation tools. For example, if you know it’s your recipient’s birthday, send them a discount code as a gift, or if a customer was halfway through a ticket purchase and then abandoned their cart, email them to see if they encountered any issues.

Making your messages as tailored and personalised as possible will increase engagement rates. Segmenting your email lists by everything you know about your customers enables you to only send them highly relevant content.

5. The more emails you send the more chances of conversion you have

With the tightening of data protection rules, you might think you should contact your customers less – Tink disagrees. He believes you should be reaching out to your engaged database more frequently, but only with great, relevant content, of course.

Utilising automation tools and clever segmentation to build content automatically and dynamically, you can be sending out emails all the time with minimal effort. Even though people’s inboxes are full, if you can make your emails stand out, you’ll sell more tickets. If you don’t send emails, you’re missing that opportunity. Tink says you can test your audience’s tolerance for emails, reducing the frequency if you see people unsubscribing, but you might be surprised at how often they’re happy to be contacted.

6. Email should be part of an “omnichannel” strategy

Email is a valuable marketing tool but in a world of communication platforms it shouldn’t be used in isolation. Last November, dotmailer completed the acquisition of COMAPI, expanding the company’s repertoire to include SMS, live chat and social media messaging. Tink says you should reach out to your consumers wherever they want to hear from you.

Millennials, especially, are now accustomed to using live chat facilities to contact customer services, rather than sending an email. When you get customers to opt in to marketing, be sure to unbundle that consent and get permission for all the different mediums you want to use. This will also help you understand the contact preferences of different customer groups.

7. Mobile responsive emails are absolutely vital

Tink says there’s one core reason email marketing remains so effective, and that’s our phones. Research shows we look at our smartphones 150-200 times a day and one of the top activities is checking our emails.

Since it’s highly likely your email will be viewed on a small screen, it is essential to use a design that will adapt and work across different devices. Even if your customers love your brand, if they receive an email that can’t be viewed properly, they probably won’t go through the bother of trying to read it. And by the time they come to be on a full-sized device, they may well have forgotten about it, so design with mobile in mind.


Don’t let GDPR put you off email; with new automation and segmentation tools, there’s never been a better time to focus on this marketing channel.

And remember, when it comes to email marketing, it’s not the size of your list that counts, but your rate of conversion. Divest your list of the disengaged, get your content right and you’ll enjoy unbeatable ROI.

Got more questions about email marketing? Register on EventTribe so you can benefit from Tink’s knowledge and experience. For more guidance on GDPR check out dotmailer’s resources.

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