Email Marketing & Privacy Regulations

Privacy laws are more important than ever - here’s how GDPR and other privacy regulations affect email marketing, and how you can comply with them.
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Since its inception in the 1980s, organisations have relied on email marketing to boost their advertising strategies. However, with the explosion of digital marketing tools and channels, and the variety of ways companies have been using them for the last 20 or 30 years, this technology has become newly regulated and marketing teams need to pay attention to the present privacy laws and changes to GDPR. Sending promotional emails without observing these rules can lead to financial and legal consequences.

Are you looking to maintain GDPR email compliance while spearheading your campaigns? Do you want to know how to comply with GDPR and other email marketing laws? Read on to find out more.

What are The Privacy Rules for Email Marketing?

Numerous lawsuits and complaints continue to arise from the widespread use of email marketing. Regulatory bodies have introduced multiple email marketing regulations to keep usage of this advertising tool in check. Marketing regulations like CAN-SPAM, CASL, and GDPR laws dictate various conditions that guide email marketers’ operations.

These laws help to prevent spammers from accessing email addresses without the owner’s permission. Most legitimate businesses that employ up-to-date email marketing tools through their ESP often maintain compliance with these rules. 

However, it is vital to stay informed about these laws to minimise violations and lawsuits regardless of your best intentions.  

Here are some of the specific marketing regulations:

•    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR applies to businesses that source personal information from residents of EU countries. Companies whose marketing database contains European email addresses should be mindful of this regulation. The regulation requires consumers to provide valid consent before receiving marketing messages. According to these regulations, provided consent should be an explicit affirmative action rather than implied or assumed consent.

Companies, on their part, need to keep clear records of users who verify their consent. When contacting such clients, ensure that you only send information that they consented to. GDPR laws also indicate that revoking consent  should be as simple and accessible as giving consent. 

•    Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Companies that send marketing communications to Canadian residents are subject to CASL regulations. Marketing teams need to source consent before sending promotional emails. Consent forms should include contact information and user identification, then indicate that users are free to revoke consent. The legislation also requires companies to include their name, contact information, and unsubscribing instructions.

CASL laws help to minimise the effects of spam while creating a more secure online marketplace. Marketing teams looking to maintain compliance could consider making internal do-not-call lists and maintain accurate records of clients who’ve given them consent. Corporate compliance programs can also help to guarantee adherence to these laws. Ensure that you involve senior management teams when creating compliance programs. Risk assessment could be an essential starting point when setting up efficient compliance initiatives. 

•    Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM)

The CAN-SPAM laws came into effect in 2003 and shield email users from email spam and unsolicited pornography. These laws mainly apply to US-based businesses that reach out to US residents through email marketing campaigns. Marketing teams need to remain truthful and honest. Ideally, they need to avoid deceptive email addresses, domain names, subject lines, or names. 

Companies should also clearly specify messages that contain explicit imagery or adult content. The law ensures that consumers receive conspicuous unsubscribe options, with a waiting period of 10 days for all their unsubscribe requests. Messages sent to individuals who have not provided their verified consent should contain an ad tag.

How Does GDPR affect Email marketing?

Many companies have had an easy time implementing email marketing initiatives. However, with the advent of GDPR, businesses need to consider this marketing tool carefully. For one, companies need explicit consent from their clients before continuing to send them emails. Subscription processes have now become stricter and include a double opt-in and a simplified opt-out feature.

GDPR summarises dynamic EU laws involving personal data protection. These laws update existing data protection laws to match the current digital age. According to the GDPR laws, email marketers need consent from their clients before sending promotional emails.

Regardless of these laws, companies can still maintain their email marketing initiatives. Businesses that maintain compliance with GDPR laws can easily target clients. GDPR’s influence also extends towards company interactions with third-party service providers. 

The ultimate goal of GDPR laws is to secure EU citizen’s data. Companies that rely on email marketing will need to adjust their strategy to maintain compliance with these regulations. Email Marketing GDPR’s provisions empower users, especially with regards to the collection and handling of their data. 

Users now have the right to consent to data collection and the right to revoke this consent. The laws also require businesses running marketing campaigns to report any data breach timely and promptly account for compromised personal data. 

US companies had an incredibly challenging time implementing the required structural changes to maintain compliance with GDPR requirements. Companies that previously relished the loose data privacy rules now need to pay close attention to the new laws. 

Can I send marketing emails under GDPR?

Sending marketing emails under GDPR law remains possible for companies that seek explicit consent from their clients. Essentially, these regulations do not ban email marketing. 

Can I still send email campaigns to existing contacts?

In most instances, companies assume that clients who recently provided their contact details and have not opted out of marketing campaigns won’t mind receiving more marketing information. However, your marketing team needs to provide such clients with straightforward opt-out opportunities. Also, it would help if you did not extend this rule to any non-commercial promotion like fundraising or political campaigning. 

Ensure that you check your existing email lists and stop any promotional emails to users whose contacts you obtained using GDPR-non-compliant methods. Ask such clients to complete the double-opted in process before you continue sending emails to them. If any clients choose to opt out of your marketing campaigns, you should allow them to do so. 

Do I need permission to send marketing emails?

Companies can only send marketing texts and emails to clients who give their consent to receive such messages. You can also extend such information to existing clients as long as you allow them to opt out whenever they feel necessary. 

GDPR requires companies to implement double opt-in features to confirm that users are keen on receiving emails. These regulations help to weed out accidental or fraudulent requests. Users can now go into their email to ensure their subscriptions after providing their email addresses. 

This requirement can serve your business as a safety net when you send marketing or promotional emails. Essentially, people subscribing to your emails should do so freely without feeling like you are pressing them to subscribe. GDPR also requires your marketing team to let your clients unsubscribe from your emails with no repercussions. 

Will GDPR affect engagement and click-through rates?

Typically, companies that use their market campaigns to target users who present explicit consent often experience increased engagement and click-through rates. Marketing regulations often drive change within marketing teams which begin focusing more on customer experience and building customer trust. Your company could also leverage AI technology to personalise emails and analyse data to reveal campaigns that don’t perform well.

While businesses were initially sceptical about these data regulations, marketing organisations are embracing these laws to improve their performance. Companies can now quickly monitor their campaigns in real-time and make adjustments that will enhance their initiatives. Essentially, digital marketing works well when your target audience is interested in your services or products. 

How can you send targeted or personalised emails under GDPR?

With the advent of GDPR, businesses need to have a data controller and a data processor. A data controller collects personal data and determines its purpose, and the data processor analyses the data. Companies often rely on third-party services for data processing. If your third-party provider fails to comply with GDPR, you may be held liable.

However, GDPR requirements ensure that you run comprehensive data audits to maintain compliance. Observing these regulations help you organise personal data effectively and run efficient email marketing campaigns. Your team can monitor your data sources and identify the most effective targets for marketing initiatives. 

GDPR and Email Cookies

Most businesses rely on cookies to get insights regarding their client’s online presence and activity, although the prospect of a cookieless future has increased interest in cookieless targeting solutions. Cookies can store vast amounts of data, which can fall under personal data concerning GDPR. According to GDPR, cookies qualify as personal data when companies use them to identify users. Companies will, therefore, need consent from their users before processing their data.

Email marketing privacy regulations also affect how businesses can use email cookies. These regulations create more robust protections for metadata, keeping in mind the constantly evolving cookies. Companies can use cookie banners to allow users to accept certain cookies for activation. 

To maintain compliance with regulations governing cookies, companies will need to:

•    Request user’s consent before using any cookies

•    Document provided consent

•    Allow users to withdraw consent and keep using their service

•    Provide specific information about the data they’ll track with each cookie

Informing your users and clients about your cookies ensures that you maintain GDPR compliance. In the case of email marketing campaigns, you may need to include a disclaimer regarding your cookies in the email’s footers. Inform users that they can configure their cookie settings to match their preferences on their mobile devices or computers. 

Remember to indicate that they will set up cookies when they click on the email links. Also, provide alternatives for clients who prefer not to accept cookies on your promotional emails. Such clients can paste such links into their browsers and access the pages without accepting cookies. 

Maintaining Compliance with Email Marketing Laws and GDPR

Choosing to satisfy email marketing regulations can help organisations avoid legal allegations and potential lawsuits. Here are essential steps you can take to comply with these laws. 

Obtain valid consent

Most email marketing regulations require companies to obtain and store consent records before exploring email marketing initiatives. Ensure that you provide your users with the explicit ability to provide consent through clear, affirmative action. Use open, straightforward messages to help the user know what they are signing up for. Regulatory bodies may fail to consider consent as valid if the information is not clear. Store all the obtained approvals in an easily accessible way. 

Repermission contacts with no record of consent

Set up a repermission campaign if you don’t have all your consumer’s consent records. Send out emails to your customers requiring them to confirm their consent on specific marketing communications. Ensure that you send out your message clearly, reminding your clients that they are free to unsubscribe at any time. Delete all customers who fail to opt-in to your campaigns. Taking such steps ensures that your business maintains records of client’s valid consents while minimising the risk of potential privacy complaints. 

Display proper contact details

Your marketing team should ensure that your email signup forms contain your business street address and any additional contact information. The footer section is an ideal point to include your company’s name and physical address. 

Keep communication honest & clear

Compliance with email marketing regulations requires companies to avoid using misleading names, domain names, or email addresses. Truthful and plainspoken marketing communications ensure that you remain compliant with multiple spam laws. For emails with sexual or explicit content, CAN-SPAM requires companies to include this information in their subject line.

Enable easy opt-out & unsubscribing

Email marketing laws provide users with the ability to unsubscribe from receiving marketing communications. Your marketing team should make this information clear whenever your clients first sign up for your marketing emails. The opting-out process should also be as simple as the signup process.

Use double opt-in procedures 

With double opt-in procedures, companies can require users to confirm their concept using two steps. After filling the initial signup form, companies will send a confirmation link to their client’s inboxes which they should click on. This procedure reduces instances of accidental signups or users who use false information to sign up other people. 

Keeping these steps and initiatives in mind can help you satisfy all regulations about email marketing. Prevent privacy complaints and spam reports with these simple yet crucial steps and keep safely and effectively using email to drive results in your marketing team.  

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*By submitting this form, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with our GDPR/Privacy terms.

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