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How to collect GDPR compliant subscribers

Published: 3rd July 2018

How to collect GDPR compliant subscribers.

GDPR represents the natural evolution of email marketing. Helping to build trust between you and your customers.

It can change how we build our mailing lists. In todays video we are going to look at how you can safely collect new email marketing subscribers post GDPR.

Your Subscriber Groups.

Your subscriber list is likely to consist of two distinct groups: Customers and non customers.


The first one is your past and present customers. Customers who you have an existing working relationship with, you are safe to add to your mailing list. They know you and are expecting your communications. GDPR does not require additional permission to stay in contact with your customers, it does not change anything here.


This is the main focal point of todays video, as GDPR does change how we can and can’t collect the details of users who we do not have a working relationship with.

One of the most common routes is to add a newsletter subscribe form to your website. This is a really fantastic way to build new subscribers. Visitors who land on your website will hopefully like what they see. By adding a newsletter subscribe block allows them to connect with you and your company.

The ICO have published a 39 page guide on building consent under GDPR. While it could be considered a perfect cure for insomnia, it does include some fantastic tips which we will draw upon today.

Freely Given Consent

First off. The ICO state that new subscribers details must be ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’.

In a nutshell, on your newsletter subscribe block, provide a quick statement outlining to the user what they are giving their email address for - for example if it is to join your weekly tips newsletter, let them know this - focus on being open and transparent, it builds trust.

So perhaps add a quick sentence saying ‘tick the box to join our weekly top holiday destination guide newsletter’.

This one sentence explains how often they can expect to receive your email ‘once a week’ and what it will contain ‘your holiday destination guide’. No need to go complicated with legal speak and a 100 page terms of service. That one sentence completely covers you from a GDPR consent perspective.

Positive Opt-In

This then moves onto the next point. The ICO describe what they call a positive opt in. The subscriber needs to complete a positive action to join your newsletter. So that the tick box that we mentioned a few moments ago - it needs to be unticked. The user needs to put a tick in the box to subscribe.

This is something everyone is now adopting, the ICO we see are giving companies a little grace period before having to get everything dead right. A co-worker pointed out the other week when booking with a big hotel chain in the UK - they still had that consent box pre-ticked. But for us all, its a learning period.

Don’t bury consent in terms of service

The ICO in a Radio 5 interview back in April 2018 noted that when gaining consent from your subscribers, playing on their ‘freely given’ terminology, the way that you gain consent needs to be clear.

For example if a user downloads your white paper and to do that they have to give their email address. It is no longer acceptable to automatically add them to your weekly mailing list and place a sentence somewhere in your long legal terms of service explaining that you will do so.

As marketeers, we need to be up front. So when a user downloads your white paper, perhaps place an tick box on the form asking them if they would also like to join your mailing list - touching on the approach that we discussed a few moments ago.

Make it easy for consent to be withdrawn

With any email marketing campaign, you should always make it easy for your users to unsubscribe. If a user no longer wants to be be there - they will not be interacting with your mailer, and they will not be motivated to read it. This ultimately hurts your sender reputation and delivery for every subscriber on your list. If you are carrying loads of dead weight, that dead weight may stop your best email subscribers who are eager to read your mailer from ever seeing it.

GDPR has simply now be brought in line with the best practices for email marketing.

The ICO outline that:

“the data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her consent at any time .. It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent”.

So this means that if a subscriber no longer wants to be there, make it easy for them to remove themselves from your list. If you are an email blaster customer, perhaps this is something which you do not need to give much thought.

Any campaign that you send automatically includes the safe removal block. Giving subscribers a clear and easy way to opt-out.

Keep evidence of when consent was given.

The controller should be able to demonstrate that the data subject has given consent to the processing operation. - ICO

So in a nutshell, GDPR asks us as marketeers to keep a record of when consent was given. So if Bob one of your subscribers phones and asks for a quick reminder how he joined your list, this information you need to be able to provide.

If you are using the email blaster subscribe app and have a subscribe form on your website. Again this is something that the software almost fully automates for you. When a user gives consent through a email blaster subscribe form, a record of content is automatically stored:

Including the date stamp of when the user joined, their IP address and even the Subscribe form used.

Ok, there we go. Thats hopefully demystified how we can safely and securely gain consent from new subscribers post GDPR.

As we touched upon, it does not have to be hard or overly complicated. In most cases you just need to add one simple sentence to your subscribe form. Plus to make life easier your email blaster aims to help with a lot of the heavy lifting, leaving you free to get creative.

Thanks for watching and be sure to pop by next week for more videos in the series.
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