Golf Marketing University

5 Ways GDPR will help your clubs marketing

For most clubs in Europe the start of the high season kicked off with a frantic and stressful rush to get data in order ahead of the recent May 25th GDPR deadline.

Re-engagement campaigns, new  procedures, updates to privacy policies and trying to follow the every changing GDPR legislation have taken their toll on Golf Clubs all across Europe and beyond.

What a headache!

Many have been left in a state of shock heading into the high season with a database that has taken a HUGE haircut.

I’ve heard reports of some clubs only receiving a 2 or 3% optin confirmation response to their re-engagement emails!

If your club is in this situation and your database has been massacred, take a deep breath.

Before you hit the panic button and give up on email marketing all together you should ask yourself the following questions…..

1. When was the last time you did an audit of your existing data?A large portion of the data you store for marketing purposes could be out of date and emails may not be being delivered. It’s common that databases that are not regularly cleaned contain up to 10-15% of email addresses on contacts that are out of date.

2. What was your average open rate?If your average open rate was 25% or more your email list is pretty engaged as far as email marketing engagement goes. That does mean however that on average 75% of your database is not engaging with the emails that you were sending in the first place.. 

3. How many of your contact asked or gave you permission to email them in the first place?Did people actually sign up to hear from you or were you just emailing them because they were on your mailing list? If you were emailing people information they don’t want it was doing you more damage that good in the first place.

4. What were you sending to your email list? Do you send promotional sales emails and newsletters and nothing else? Be honest, would you like to receive this on a regular basis? Would you open it and read it?

5. Is there Legitimate Interest? If you’re sitting with a list of thousands of contacts that have not responded to your re-engagement optin emails all may not be lost. A very “Grey Area” under the legislation called “Legitimate Interest” in a nutshell gives permission to email contacts provided you can prove you believe they are Legitimately Interested in what you are sending. “Legitimate interest” may be among the most confusing concepts written into the GDPR, but it is an area worth looking into. More information is available on the ICO’s website related to this. If you are going to go down this path we STRONGLY recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you are practicing within the compliance guidelines.

Having asked yourself these questions, two thing should be clear…

1. Not all is lost and as bad as it might have seemed

2. The large database you may have had before the GDPR regulations came into force may not have been as valuable and engaged as you may have thought….

So what do we do now? Is email marketing dead…?

Definitely not! The introduction of the new data practices and legislation under GDPR is a hidden blessing for your golf clubs email marketing if you know how to take advantage of them.

Below are 5 ways in which you can leverage these changes to drive in more sales and a greater return from your clubs email marketing even with a significantly smaller list to email.

1- Leverage transactional emails

Under the GDPR regulations you can email customers when they’ve made a purchase with for example a purchase confirmation or booking confirmation email.

In this email along with the details of their purchase you could ask them to join your mailing list or subscribe for something of value and get their consent to receive email marketing from you for that particular purpose.

2 – Scrap the “Subscribe To Our Newsletter”

“Subscribe to our Newsletter.” Combined these are 4 of the most bland and uninspiring words you can use to get people to subscribe to receive marketing communications from you.

Ask yourself the question, would I subscribe to our newsletter? Be honest….

If the answer is no, you’re probably right. I mean, who wants another newsletter in their inbox? Unless of course it has some real value…

By repackaging your “Newsletter” as something of value like a “XYX Club Insider” who get exclusive offers and promotions on a monthly basis including first release tickets and bookings to club events you start to create something that is very attractive and valuable to sign up for.

Alot of the content for your newsletter you would have already been producing anyhow so delivering it this fashion is a simple change.

3 – Be proactive about collecting data

Since most European Golf Clubs  will have taken some sort of hit on their database numbers now more than ever essential to start collecting data for marketing purposes.

Here are 3 easy ways to start doing that are your club:

#1 – Run a monthly or quarterly prize draw

Capture names and email on paper, by business card or electronically by tablet or iPad in a simple Google form. The iPad could be secured to the Pro Shop counter or you could even take it walk-about to the putting green or the driving range and get people to enter as you go. And on your website, web-forms are super easy to set up and achieve the same end.

One thing to keep in mind with a draw, the prize should be worth winning and maximise the number of entrants. Remember one new member could be worth 99k.

#2 – Wifi Hotspot sign-up

If you offer free Wifi at your facility, this is an absolute goldmine. Don’t miss the rush. There are lots of companies that will set this up for you allowing you to pick up data when visitors want to access your internet. You might have done this a few times yourself in cafes, airports or hotels.

#3 – Website Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. They are also called: Signup incentives. They come in many different forms but a good starting point for golf might be some sort of Technical Guide or 10 Top Tips which leverages your knowledge & expertise. The can also come in the form of a special offer that the visitors needs to fill in their details to claim.

To make sure you stay GDPR compliant you must be very clear on what telling them how you are using their data and if they opt in for marketing, what they can expect to receive.

4 – Segment and Personalise

Let me ask you a question…which “type” of email sitting in your Inbox are YOU most likely to open almost immediately?

An email from your family or a good friend perhaps? Why is that?

Because you know they’re writing to you personally, the message contained in it is specifically for YOU.

By contrast, which type of email are you most likely to ignore or delete? Probably some generic, faceless, boring corporate email you know has been sent to thousands of other people.

Segmenting your database enables you to keep your emails looking and feeling personal more than “corporate” and “generic”.

How does this sound for the start of highly personal and segmented email…

“Good morning Mary,

As a single figure handicap golfer, I thought you might appreciate this YouTube video I came across on …”

Think about how much personalisation has gone into just two lines there…the morning greeting, using Mary’s first name, acknowledging her standard of golf and use of the word “YOU” as well.

There’s no jargon, no formality and best of all, it’s super quick and simple to write. My rule of thumb is “Don’t use words or phrases you wouldn’t write to someone you know” – Emails to your Customers should look exactly 
like the emails you send to the people you know

How different and easy is that compared to the standard impersonal, boring, corporate-feeling newsletter?

Sure, you might have to write a few more “segmented” emails but you’ll probably save time overall – not having to stress about graphic designers or getting tonnes of material together for that weekly newsletter deadline AND you’ll certainly be achieving a higher response rate. In order to achieve this segmentation you’re going to need a CRM or database to manage your data which leads me to number 5….

5 – Manage & control your data

One thing I strongly recommend is to collate ALL your data into one system. A central database that sits in the heart of your business. This is known as a CRM, a Customer Relationship Management system.

For marketing purposes, a CRM should be your central data hub, the place where you feed and maintain all data. Given the number of disparate ways data comes into your business, it’s impossible to maintain everything in sync. In the real world, it just won’t happen.

So the easiest way to avoid data overload, is use one CRM where you direct all your inputs and where you focus all of your “maintenance attention”.

What’s more, a CRM will allow you to “group” your contacts together. What do I mean by “group”? Well, remember earlier in the course we talked about Segmentation?

Most CRM systems allow you to create “segments” of contacts which is fundamental to how you’ll want to communicate with them because…

Best of all, most CRMs include the functionality to email groups, your “segments”. And the very best CRMs will also allow you to automate your email process.


Everyone has taken a hit on the numbers of contacts they can email from their databases since the GDPR regulations came into force.

Keeping engaged those subscribers you’ve managed to retain and growing your list really should be your key focus when it comes to your email marketing.

You’re definitely better off having a smaller, more highly engaged database enjoying high open rates, high click through rates, zero bounces, zero spam complaints and zero unsubscribes.

In other words, go for Quality over Quantity.

I hope you find this post helpful!

If you’d like to have a chat about your email marketing and are looking for any advice drop me a message on linked in

Disclaimer – If in doubt about GDPR, we advise you to seek legal advice as this content is not intended to constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought before taking or refraining from taking any action in relation to the matters outlined in this post.

John King

John King is the Co-Founder of Golf Marketing University, a dedicated marketing training platform for commercial golf clubs. After spending nearly a decade marketing facilities and venues within the golf and hospitality industry, John has harnessed how to effectively guide his clients to increased sales in today's competitive and ever-changing market.

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