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Sound familiar? If your inbox is anything like mine, it’s probably become deluged by every brand you ever had so much as a fleeting relationship with.

Some emails have been dull, but some have been wonderfully eye catching, or even downright bizarre. The Barbican, for instance, sent out a pun-tastic Brutalist update (“Make your preferences concrete”). Glimpse sent us a note entitled “The most boring email ever” (reverse-pscyhology clickbait). Our absolute favourite, however, was Coppafeel, who tenuously linked GDPR to 90s pop with an image of N*Sync and “Bye Bye Bye”.

Subject lines aside, there are three really interesting learnings I’ve taken from my inbox. They’re all techniques I’ve seen from the commercial sector that I think are completely applicable for charities too.

  1. Put the recipient in control

GDPR itself arose from the wish to give individuals better rights and control over their data, so the brands who are giving customers control back have got it right. ASOS are a great example of a brand who’ve empowered their customers to do this. Starting with an email campaign, they gave options for what to hear about it, complimented by clear videos and digestible data principles on their website. Most recently, for the final push, they’ve taken to Instagram Stories to be where their audience is. It’s a great approach, and one that builds trust in its transparency.

The pitfall here is overdoing it. South Western Railway, sent out an early email with the subject line: “The power is in your hands”. For businesses, the prospect of losing database volume might be worrying, but for customers, it’s just another email.

  1. Make it seamless

Updating your preferences is clunky at the best of times, but having to do it for all the emails you’re subscribed to in one week? Forget it. The best brands have found ways to make this feel really simple. A great example is the Guardian, who added a homepage banner to their site with a quick one-click option to refresh consent. Others have offered simple icons to help guide you, and developed one-click solutions, registering the update straight from your email, without the need to fill out any forms.

  1. Think about giving your audience something back

Consider what more you can do for your audience. Going back to those brilliant subject lines, the one thing they share is that they made us all laugh. At the simplest level, it’s about providing value, rather than just keeping nagging your audience.

There are some other great examples where this has been taken further. Manchester United have been referenced within the sector as being a little overzealous: fans arrived to matches to find all possible advertising spaces in the stadium covered in opt-in messaging. However, what works is how they harnessed GDPR as an opportunity to reconnect and reaffirm the loyalty of their fan base. They handed out signed photos of players at matches and created a player-led update video. In short, they reconnected their fans and affirmed their identities as supporters.

On “GDPR-eve” it feels all to easy to dust ourselves down and put our feet up after long-planned campaigns. Yet with those exploding inboxes, we’re waking up to a new era with charity supporters who feel much more empowered to ask questions about, and manage, their data. It gives us a brand new opportunity to connect with them and offer supporter experiences that are more transparent, seamless and give something back.