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Is GDPR killing email marketing?

On May 25, 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation entered into force. This Regulation was prepared and debated for four years until it was finally approved by the European Parliament on 14 April 2016.

Now, all European companies - or ones that operate in the European Union - have new obligations and requirements for the processing of personal data. The main goal of this new regulation is the standardization of Data Privacy rules in European territory, avoiding abuses and cases of misuse of citizens' data.

Thus, throughout the month of May, inboxes around the world were filled with messages from companies asking users to accept to continue to be contacted via email. However, this flood of emails may have had harmful effects on companies that use email marketing as the centrepiece of their marketing and digital communication strategies.

According to Transparency Market Research data, the email marketing industry is estimated to be worth around 22 billion euros in 2025.

However, against these figures are the results of the most recent study by Huge. Digital marketing agency Huge conducted a study analyzing the opening rate of RGPD-related emails sent by companies. Findings are alarming for brands that rely on newsletters to win and retain customers: only 25-30% of users who receive these emails open the messages. Moreover, in the US, 23% of the users who opened the emails took advantage to stop subscribing to the newsletters of the companies.

If people are not reading the emails, let alone giving permission to continue to be contacted, a central sales channel is lost, which can cause huge losses. According to a CNBC study, there are organizations claiming to have lost up to 80% of their mailing list since the introduction of new European legislation.

Although the legislation only applies to the European Union, many companies have opted to update their privacy policies for users globally as it becomes quite expensive and complex to operate two completely different rulesets in a globalized environment such as digital.

Is the RGPD killing email marketing? It may be too early to ask this question, but there is no doubt that companies should start rethinking their email-centric strategies and thinking of new ways to increase their contact lists so as not to conflict with General Data Protection Regulation.

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