Marketers positive about GDPR’s impact on email, as ROI increases, DMA reports


2In a year of change for many marketers, email remains the key strategic channel for most marketers – 91% rating it as important. Despite the challenges many felt with the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), most marketers (56%) feel positive about the impact the new laws have had on their email campaigns – just a fifth feeling the contrary (20%). Resulting in a marked increase in the returns from email and other key measurement metrics for the channel.

According to the ‘Marketer Email Tracker 2019’ report released today by the DMA, in partnership with dotdigital, the new rules have had a positive impact on a range of email metrics and, despite the short-term difficulties, the long-term benefits are already being felt. Even though some marketing teams have observed decreases in list sizes, the majority of marketers reported an increase in email open rates (74%) and click-through rates (75%) in the past 12 months. Most organisations also saw a reduction in opt-out rates (41%) and spam complaints (55%) in comparison to previous years, further evidence of the GDPR effect.

“Before the GDPR’s implementation something not unlike panic had set in amongst many. Was legitimate interest or informed consent the best strategy – or both? Would marketing lists be decimated or would a new era of opted-in consumers show those lists to be largely chaff in the first place?” adds Marcus Gearey, chair of the DMA Email council’s research hub & Analytics manager, Zeta Global, “Less than a year into the new regime, marketers appear to have transitioned from wary to hopeful. Perhaps this will change when the ICO make their first big prosecution under the new legislation, but the disaster it was sometimes pitched as a precursor to, looks to have been wildly exaggerated.”

The value of email

The latest edition of the research reveals that almost two thirds (62%) of marketers are now confident in their organisation’s ability to measure return on investment (ROI) – the highest-ever proportion since the DMA started asking the question back in 2012. According to these marketers, the estimate of ROI for every £1 spent on email has increased by almost £10 since the previous study (pre-GDPR) – this is now set at £42.24, up from £32.28 in 2017.

Marketers’ confidence in calculating the lifetime value (LTV) of each individual email address also rose sharply over the last year, with nearly twice as many organisations able to calculate these figures now (41%) than before the new rules came into force (21%). The estimated LTV for each email also increased in 2018 to £37.32.

“Despite the challenges the GDPR have posed to those of us working in the data and marketing industry, it’s positive to see that sentiment towards the changes is already broadly positive,” said Rachel Aldighieri, MD of the DMA, “The good news for proponents of email marketing is that ROI is increasing; marketers are predicting an increase in investment in the channel; they’re also bullish about their ability to measure its effectiveness and their overall competence in the discipline of email marketing.”

Phil Draper, chief marketing officer at dotdigital, said: “What struck me most in this year’s figures is that email ROI has shot up from £32 to £42 – email’s return on investment is undeniable. As such, marketers are measuring ROI more than ever before; many are able to access the tools they need to quantify the impact of email. Moreover, marketers may have benefited from better quality email addresses in their arsenal, post GDPR.”