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5 Things To Consider To Keep Your Email Marketing GDPR Compliant

In turbulent times like these, it’s becoming more important than ever for businesses to stay protected from bad press, and avoid all the penalties, legal issues, and hefty fines that result from non-compliance with the GDPR. Surprisingly, more than 40% of marketers are still not sure about all the rules and best practices regarding the use of customers’ personal data for marketing purposes. No wonder why more and more businesses are demanding Data Protection Officer services in the UK!

To help your organisation demystify GDPR and ensure that your email marketing campaigns are GDPR compliant, we share in this blog post how GDPR affects email marketing and all the things you need to consider to stay compliant with GDPR.

5 things to consider to keep your email marketing GDPR compliant

The GDPR requires all direct marketers to acquire consent before sending out any emails, texts, direct messages (online or offline), or making any phone calls to potential customers, with the aim of promoting products and services to them. However, this is not required if you are sending out service messages, primarily for customer service (to your existing customers) or for administrative purposes.

To make sure your email marketing is GDPR compliant and the consent you are recording counts as “valid” as per the PECR and UK GDPR, here are some important points to consider:

  1. Consent must be freely given and should not be a precondition for receiving a product or service. Don’t force the users to subscribe to your email list.
  2. It must be clear to the individual what exactly they are consenting to when they’re signing up to your email list.
  3. Consent must be requested for a specific objective only and cannot be bundled with other consent. By taking their consent for sending them marketing emails, you do not automatically qualify to call them, send text messages on their phones, or reach out to them via social media.
  4. The request for consent should consist of clear affirmative action. Using a checkbox in your signup form that’s pre-ticked cannot be counted as valid consent.
  5. Recipients should have an option to withdraw their consent at any time and object to receiving any further direct marketing communication by clicking on an unsubscribe link.

If the consent you have recorded doesn’t fulfil any of the above-mentioned criteria it will be considered invalid and you will risk getting into trouble with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

B2C vs B2B: How GDPR applies to email marketing

Under the UK GDPR act, it’s important to share a lawful basis you have relied upon for marketing activities. In the case of B2C email marketing, the lawful basis would be “consent”, which is why Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) requires you to get consent from your potential customers, before you start marketing to them.

Keep in mind that the rules that apply to B2C marketing are a lot different and stricter in comparison to those that are applicable for B2B marketing. This is why it’s important to distinguish between B2B marketing and B2C marketing, when you are considering the data protection laws and how they apply to email marketing.

If you are a B2B marketer, or perhaps a B2C marketer sending out emails to your existing customers, requesting consent from the intended recipients isn’t really necessary. In such a case, “legitimate interest” can be used as your lawful basis for compliance and you can make use of soft opt-in for marketing to your audience products and services similar to yours. 

With that being said, don’t assume that consent doesn’t play any role in the case of B2B marketing. You still need to make sure that your emails contain a small link or button through which the email recipients can share non-consent by opting out or unsubscribing to your email list, if they ever wished to do that.

It’s also not a good idea to assume that any form of consent you have received is going to be valid forever. Review your email marketing database regularly and remove any contacts who are not actively engaging with your emails, since reaching out to them would qualify as “sending irrelevant information”.

If any of this sounds confusing or if you are not sure whether your email marketing fully complies with the GDPR, it’s always a good idea to work closely with your data privacy and legal teams to further fine-tune your marketing approach and safeguard your best interests.

Wrapping up

The rules for maintaining a high level of GDPR compliance as an email marketer are fairly simple. As a rule of thumb, don’t send an email to someone unless they have specifically agreed to be contacted. If you can ensure this for all your campaigns, then you have done your part in keeping your email marketing complaint with the GDPR.