Congratulations – You have found my bait – You must be a very hungry fish!  Just doing a spot of fishing.  It’s been a bit more difficult since GDPR hasn’t it?

During my time with mailingmanager, I have come to realise that behind all the technical jargon and sophisticated systems that make things happen, really there is one simple goal for all. Catch plenty of Fish!

And like our angling counterparts, email marketing is not a simple case of casting in your rod and watching them bite.  There are many things to consider.  Firstly, you should have some idea of what type of fish you are targeting before you set out.

Appealing to a thirty-year-old mother requires different techniques than appealing to a fifty-year-old male CEO.  Just like reel fishermen, you have to understand your email marketing campaign, and not just send emails for the halibut.  Eel stop making out-of-plaice fishing jokes now.

I am sorry – I had to get those puns out of my system.


Choosing the right Waters.

Data is the key to any successful email marketing campaign. Just like knowing which river to fish in for fisherman (sadly we don’t get any salmon here in Northampton!) there are many options available to acquire data in the modern world. But knowing which technique is best from the offset is a handy tip.

Available options for obtaining data:

  • Purchase or Rent Data – this is a technique which reminds me of a large fishing trawler with nets that run for miles and designed to catch loads of fish. Easy right? Wrong! Sadly, with email marketing evidence of people using purchased data indicates that average open rates can be as little as 1% – 2% (Which usually doesn’t even cover the cost of what you have just paid the data company for).


  • Get subscribers – Via a subscription form this is a similar technique to which a fly fisherman would use up in the rivers of Scotland. The less quantity of water does not mean that its easier though, in fact – it makes it harder. Catching a salmon is notoriously hard and requires a lot of continuous perseverance. Eventually though you will get bites. If you were to stay in the river for days, you would eventually catch a salmon.


  • Use existing customers – Believe it or not, your existing customer database can be targeted for different purposes. For instance, retaining customers by keeping them in the loop of new product updates or latest news. Or even trying to up-sell products or services.

Choosing the right bait.

There is no “get rich quick” scheme with email marketing.  Like fishing, it takes a little patience.  Also like fishing, you aren’t going to catch many pike if you are using an onion as bait.  Something needs to lure the fish in.  Email marketing, especially post-GDPR needs subscribers opted in to your lists.  Nice and compliant prospects who want to hear what you have to say.

You cannot just go to the contact tree and shake it until all the fruit falls out unfortunately.  You have to put in some of the hard work.

Acquiring the Subscribers: GDPR style

Now that you know which river to find your fish, you need to start luring them in. There are many different types of techniques used in the email industry known as “Lead Magnets”.  This way you can get GDPR compliant contacts.

Types of Lead Magnets:

Website Subscription Forms:

  • Sign up to receive news – people may want to read your latest news, services and product updates.
  • Sign up to receive latest offers – certain internet buyers are hunters and are looking for excellent deals.
  • Exit intent popups – these are good to help landing page bounce rate and will encourage people to leave their details.

Downloadable Guides/Reports:

  • Cheat sheets – these are good and make people believe there is a quick way to their desired end goal.
  • Handouts – General information that me be of interest to the desired audience.


  • Bundles – these are good and encourage people to believe they may be getting good value for money, they may also throw in useful tools like event calendars and time saving documents.

Free Trials and Software Downloads:

  • Try before you buy – used frequently with food suppliers, see how graze offer you the first and fifth box for free:
  • Samples – see how Blinds 2go use samples as their way to lure you in through the sales process.
  • Free software trial – Like we do with our own email marketing software, you could offer a free trial.

Discounts/Free Shipping:

  • Offers – 30% off – remember 10% off is not cool!
  • Free Shipping – just like eBay, your website can encourage signups by giving away free shipping on first orders.


  • Surveys – Can be good if used well and is relevant to the target audience’s experiences.
  • Quiz – Some people enjoy testing their own general knowledge on certain subjects.


  • Tests/Assessments – Great for qualifying certain prospects (this would be good for data quality testing for an ESP ?)



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Downloading this file will help make sure that your lead magnet will bring those fish to your keep net and you can watch them jump in.  There are eight points to help you design you lead magnet.  For the beginner, some great advice – for the accomplished marketer a handy reminder on how to fish.

Yes, there are a lot of different baits available to use in email marketing. Use the bait which you think will work the best for you’re and your business. If you would like a free consultation on this please feel free to discuss lead magnets with one of our platform specialists: (book a demo)

What to do with the fish, when you do catch them?

Great, so your bait is working and you’re beginning to catch some good fish (well as far as your aware they’re good???)  but this needs clarifying… what is a good lead?

  1. interest in your product?
  2. remains quiet?
  3. hasn’t double opted in?
  4. immediately makes a purchase from your email

Of course, the best lead here is the one that bites first, but you can never dismiss other types of leads . Some leads may be further up the sales funnel and not yet ready to make a purchase – but they have decided to join your mailing list so that it reminds them of you in six months’ time.

From my experience, leads are always best captured from Google Ads or Google search. These types of leads are already in the market for your product  and are likely to bite when they hit your landing page. Its always best to monitor best feeding times, this can help you identify how to load your paid click budget within these times.

Leads from social media advertising are more likely to take more time to convert as they may not be in the market for your product at the current time. (Some fish might not be hungry enough).


Reeling it in

Despite the restrictions GDPR has placed upon data, you should still manage to acquire a keep-net full of subscribers.  Gaining their initial interest is key, but so is keeping the conversation going.  Where the fishing comparison ends is that you neither eat nor release your subscriber.  You nurture it in your fish-tank of contacts and hope to grow the relationship between your business and theirs.  Doing that with your fish would just be plain weird.



Alex and fishing GDPR picture