A couple of weeks back we were contacted by an edtech company that was looking for marketing support. They were planning to contact a number of marketing agencies to find out who would ‘be best fit’ and they had a killer question to separate the wheat from the chaff.
“We want to email 200 headteachers in East London. What will this cost us?”
Can we all just agree this is a really bad idea? Let’s just forget the legal ramifications for a moment (which I will come onto) and think about the request. Having dealt with these sorts of enquiries dozens of times, I can confidently say companies going down this route are likely thinking:
- Our product might be used by teachers, but they don’t make purchasing decisions. Let’s go straight to the organ grinder.
- Our product is great – if we tell headteachers, they are sure to be interested
I can also confidently say, these companies are mostly wrong. Headteachers are inundated with ‘the next best thing’ emails and if they are not the actual end user, then frankly, they don’t care about your product. If they are the end user, they still generally don’t care about your product. The majority of companies purchasing mailing lists do not see value in a marketing funnel or don’t understand the customer journey, and therefore go in with a heavily sales lead introductory message. We refer to this as meeting someone for the first time and asking them to marry you. It’s crazy talk. It rarely works. Even if you’re offering a free trial, you’re effectively saying ‘hello there, you should trial out marriage with me to see what you think’. It’s weird, stop doing it.
So onto the legal standpoint. Not to be another GDPR doom-monger, but GDPR will be coming into play next year whether you like it or not. You simply MUST become GDPR compliant (or alternatively, just remove all details of every single EU based human from your records, and never sell into the EU again. Yes including after Brexit.)
There has been a lot of talk (and a lot of confusion) around what this means for schools, but little around what it means for providers to schools. Let me make this clear. From a marketing perspective, as a bare minimum you MUST be able to demonstrate that every person you have details for has given you express permission to store and use their details for whatever purpose you intend. For instance, if you have 1,000 teachers on your records (in an email system, CSV file or anything), you must be able to audit where these details came from and have evidence that you have been given permission by every single person to store their details and contact them for marketing purposes.
At EdAcademy, we will be offering turnkey solutions to show companies how to get these opt ins, however for now, you must at least be aware of your responsibilities and expectations.
Frankly, I cannot possibly believe that these companies who sell on details of teacher names and emails will be able to survive post GDPR. It stands to reason that the moment they ask their database of 200,000+ contacts if ‘it will be okay for us to store your details so that we may sell them on to third parties in order that they may market to you’, they will be politely told where to go. And that’s a good thing. It’s not that these are the bad guys, but hey, we all need to strive for better quality contacts and better quality leads. Why have 1,000 contacts who never open an email when you could re-qualify just 80 of them that are actually interested in what you have to say?
So back to the story…
“We don’t sell on personal details and we never will. I can give you the names of 3 companies that do, but please don’t expect to be able to do this from next year. Oh as an aside, if your plan is to contact these 200 (cold) schools with your great offer/free trial, at best, expect 40 to open, 4 to click, 0 to convert.”
Put bluntly, if you still think marketing means buying email addresses and sending cold emails about how great your product is, you need to change tact, fast. If you’re happy running this sort of service for the next 6 months, go ahead, but if you’d like to understand how to create great content that appeals to the education sector, how to acquire a captive audience (without buying email lists), how to boost conversions and even drive engagement, then join EdAcademy.co, and learn from our 10+ years of agency experience how to get your products into schools, and keep them there.