How to Segment Email Contacts for Performance and Compliance

With the arrival of the GDPR and with CASL in full force, we are legally obliged to document and classify our contacts —either by implied/express consent for CASL and/or by citing one of the six lawful bases for GDPR.

This legal obligation is actually a great opportunity to update and revise those existing relationships.

When was the last time you UPDATED and CLEANED UP your CRM or contact lists?

Like the majority of most professionals and companies, it has probably been some time since your contacts were last updated or cleaned up. It’s a time-consuming task, and often other priorities take precedence. Once a contact has been entered into our address book, our profile tables, our CRM, our databases, it just kind of sits there.

But imagine what it would be like if you took the time to consider how those contacts, how those business relationships could evolve. Suddenly, opportunities come to mind.

Imagine what it would be like if that cold lead became a client for one of your new products or services. Imagine what it might be like if those one-time buyers transformed into frequent shoppers.

If we are more pertinent in our offerings to our contacts, clients, customers, leads, etc., through proper segmentation, these opportunities can become realities.

Here’s how to go about it…

#1 – Classify contacts according to “Legal” status

Because of our legal obligations to CASL and GDPR, you’ll want to attribute either an “implied/express consent” status or a “lawful base” to each of your contacts. It may sound time-consuming but this process is quite easy if you know the law or if you work with a professional (wink, wink).

#2 – Attribute business variable tags

Next up, you’re going to want to add tags or group your contacts based on business variables.  For B2B, this can include company type, size, industry, relationship to your business, etc. For B2C, you can use an RFM matrix model, or add items such as “high spender”, “frequent shopper”, etc.

When you segment emails on these variables, your best opportunities suddenly come into focus, and the time spent on marketing efforts is used more effectively.

For example, instead of sending a general promo to your entire list, you’ll send a more specific incentive to just your high-spenders. Resulting in more overall direct sales at a higher cart value.

# 3 – Attribute personal interests

Lastly, you’ll want to attribute personal interests and preferences to your contacts, so that you can personalize content. This can include language, gender, activities, etc.

For example, perhaps you run a tourism company and offer different excursions. Certain customers are going to be more interested in one type of activity than others. By asking them what activities interest them on sign up forms, or based on past purchases, or links clicked in emails, you can determine which activities interest a contact most.

By doing this, email conversations and communications suddenly become more relevant, pertinent and meaningful to your audience.

Your contacts will reward your efforts with increased open and click-through rates and increased sales and revenue.

Remember, every single email is an opportunity. Imagine all the possibilities.


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How to Write Emails to Get Consent for GDPR (and CASL)

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect May 25th. From that date onwards, an organization must be able to demonstrate they are being lawful and prove compliance with this regulation.

Because GDPR governs data security and protection (unlike CASL with governs commercial electronic messages — for more information on the differences between GDPR and CASL click here) an individual or organization may reference one of the six lawful bases to justify the collection of data of their clients, leads, partners, members, marketing contacts, etc.

Because email is such a key medium for our business transactions and marketing communications, it’s important to note that any organization sending emails to individuals in the European Union is subject to GDPR, regardless of the originating country of the emails.

Now then, specifically for your marketing contacts, you’re going to want to know about Consent as a Lawful Base, to justify the collection and storage of your marketing contacts’ information.

“Consent” as a lawful base is one of the ways, and the easiest for email marketers, to prove lawfulness and compliance in the eyes of GDPR. However, there are strict requirements and you will need to obtain explicit consent (note that there is no such thing as implied consent under GDPRmoving forward from all your marketing communication subscribers or from anyone that fills out forms on your web pages to receive communications from you.

If you use “Consent” as a lawful base.

  • Consent must be specific to distinct purposes.
  • Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity does not constitute consent; data subjects must explicitly opt-in to the storage, use, and management of their personal data. A double opt-in procedure is the best and safest way forward.
  • Separate consent must be obtained for different processing activities, which means you must be clear about how the data will be used when you obtain consent. The opt-in message that is used has to state all the ways you could possibly use the personal data you collect and how you are protecting that data. (ex.: state that you take data protection seriously by including a link to your Privacy Policy, and indicate that a person can access, rectify, or erase their data at any time.)
  • Consent must be verifiable and requires a written record of when and how someone agreed to let you process their personal data.

For those marketing contacts that you already have in your database (that are not clients, partners, members, employees or associates —as other lawful bases are easier to use for those contacts, although you can still send them the following email to ask them for their consent as there’s no harm in being safe than sorry) here is how you are going to want to ask them for consent.

N.B.: For those doing business in Canada, under CASL, if you already have implied consent for your contacts, and if you are still within the allowed time period (ex.: A person, who fills out a web form on your website, is considered to have given you “implied consent”, and you have a 6-month time frame in which you can communicate with them), the following email is valid to obtain explicit/express consent.

From name and subject line

These are the two elements that are the most crucial part of any email, as these items determine whether we’ll open an email or not.

For the “From” name, you’re going to want to make personal (from a real person, because as humans we prefer interacting with other humans) and professional (company name).

Ex. Rebecca Coggan | CompanyName, or Rebecca @ CompanyName, or use your full name and add the company name to the subject line.

For the subject line, you’re going to want to include the words “action required”.

TIP: Typically, when these words are surrounded by square brackets and in all caps, ex. [ACTION REQUIRED], we tend to take it more seriously.

And of course, in the subject line, you’ll also need to add the reason why you are contacting the person.

Example of all the elements together:

Other variations are possible. Be sure to make it your own.

Body copy

The three most important things when it comes to body copy is that it needs 1) to be brief, 2) to clearly demonstrate the “what’s in it me” for the recipient of the email and 3) written using an empathetic tone.

N.B.: By the way, if you respect these three key elements in your body copy, your open rates will steadily increase and your audience will trust you more and more.)

TIP: When it comes to these specific types of communications (updating information, account status etc.), text-based emails tend to be taken more seriously, are read more than scanned, and are acted upon more than ignored.

Example of all the elements together:

The body copy also includes many essential items: person’s name, deadline, the action required, incentive, instructions for future requests, a warm thank-you, and detailed sender information.

Here too, other variations are possible depending on your own situation. You can also send a follow-up email if you don’t get a response or action as quickly as hoped for. Be sure to make it your own.

So there you have it. Simple and easy.