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[Webinar recap] Getting your existing subscriber base ready for the GDPR

So what attention do you need to pay to existing subscribers in the run up to the General Data Protection Regulation? As we discussed on a recent webinar with LGcommunications, you need to ensure you have GDPR-standard consent from all subscribers already on your email and SMS mailing lists. Chances are you don’t, so action needs to be taken now to get it.

Do you have to delete all subscribers who you don’t have proper consent for and start your mailing lists from scratch? The simple answer is no. Do not do that! But there are certain steps that you will need to take to get your email marketing account in shape.

[This is our GDPR webinar recap blog 3 of 3. Please note Granicus’ comments on the GDPR are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Please consult your data protection advisor or a lawyer for guidance on your obligations.]


Preparing for the GDPR is an opportunity to cleanse your communication lists. In fact, this is a necessity.

  • Re-engage “sleepy subscribers”
  • Remove unengaged people who don’t respond to your re-engagement efforts
  • Cross-promote other subscription topics subscribers may not yet be aware of
  • Move forward with a highly engaged audience base

There are three types of subscribers who pose a threat to your organisation’s compliance with the GDPR. You’ll need to create an action plan for these groups, as you attempt to secure GDPR-standard consent to continue communicating with them after 25 May 2018.

The fact that you have any “at-risk” subscribers at all shouldn’t give you a reason to panic, just a reason to start thinking about how you are going to re-engage with them.


In the words of our very own Lorna Perry who mimicked the sound of Bruno Mars on a recent webinar:




The subscribers you need to tend to now:

  1. Zero-Topic Subscribers – are subscribers who are not assigned to any topics. This can happen for two reasons. They may have tried to sign up to communications but exited the window before opting into any topics – this would create a floating account that is present but not receiving any communication. Or, they may have signed up to a topic that has since been deleted. You will need to run a re-engagement campaign for these subscribers to give them the option to opt in to topics. If they don’t respond after a series of messages, delete them from your account.
  2. Uploaded Subscribers – are subscribers who originally entered one or more of your mailing lists via an upload by someone in your organisation. For some of you uploads will form a high proportion of your subscribers since when you launched your email service you probably collected various mailing lists from across service areas and assigned them to the relevant email bulletin topic. This is not a reason to panic. Most likely you rightly uploaded them because they had at some point signed up for comms on a particular topic, e.g. when they joined a library, they ticked a box on the form to receive news about your libraries. You will need to find the evidence of their original consent (paper forms on file are fine), but if you do not have proof then you will need to include these people in a re-engagement campaign and ask them to reconfirm their preferences.
  3. Unengaged Subscribers – are subscribers who have signed up for topics but may not ever have opened emails or haven’t engaged with you in a long while. There is no set time for how long these people have to be “sleepy” for you to deem them “unengaged” and in need of nudging – you’ll need to make a judgement on what is a reasonable time-frame. These people will need to be included in a re-engagement campaign, and if they don’t respond, do remove them.


To deal with these at-risk subscribers, start with a few simple steps:

• Find out what volume of subscribers are in these categories. (Remember it is not unusual to have a high proportion of uploaded subscribers)

• Review your topics – close unused topics, rationalise topics where you can, and create any new topics you have a need for, ready for cross-promotion in a re-engagement campaign.

• Plan your re-engagement campaign templates, messaging, calls-to-action, and the (relevant) questions you’ll need to ask as part of the subscription process to match each mailing list.


Lorna’s top tips for your re-engagement campaign/s:

• Think about what you are already sending people – include links in existing comms asking them to continue their consent for that communication. Using campaign banners would be a good way of doing this.

• When asking for consent to continue, give them the option to easily opt in or out of other topics (e.g. take them to their subscriber preferences page).

• Ensure you include unsubscribe links.

• Over time your re-engagement mailing list should be getting smaller. Do not repeat send to people that have already clicked “yes” in some way to say they confirm they’re opting in. Th GovDelivery Advanced Package for Communications Cloud by Granicus will update your mailing list automatically, whereas you’ll need to edit the mailing list manually if you’re using the basic Communications Cloud.

• Get creative – use new templates – grab people’s attention.

• Stay on-brand, but also be brave. You’re fighting for attention in the inbox!

• Keep it simple and mobile-friendly – one column.

• Use a clear call-to-action button inviting people to confirm they’re opting in (include an unsubscribe link nearby).

• Think about your heading text – keep people interested.

• A/B test – sending the most impactful subject line, imagery and messaging will help boost your results.

• Decide how many emails you are going to send to try and re-engage people and call time on it after X many attempts.

• Tell people the deadline for opting in and stick to it.

• When delivering your final email include alternative points of contact so people can still reach you after the deadline.

• Don’t “spray and pray”, segment your audience. Think carefully about who needs re-engaging in each mailing list and what your messaging should be.



Does this sound too much like hard work? We can do it for you


Granicus is offering all its customers a GDPR preparation service where we’ll do the hard work for you. We can manage your re-engagement campaigns and get your account GDPR-compliant, giving you peace of mind. Reach out to learn more.