Email Marketing: How To Stay Compliant?

With an average return of investment of 42$ for every dollar spent on email marketing, no wonder this method is a top 3 distribution channel both for B2C and B2B marketers. It is a great technique to keep in touch with customers and the most reliable way to let them know about the new products, special deals, and offers.

As the email marketing tools are constantly improving, marketers can now create diversified email campaigns with almost no manual work. 

Using various tools for analytics and automation, they can segment their customers with great precision and deliver tailored and highly personalized emails to varied audiences.

However, regulatory legislation in this area has advanced as well.

The Importance of Staying Compliant:

Legal issues can arise when sending out marketing emails, especially in anti-spam law and data privacy. 

These laws impact how companies can market to customers, target them, and the responsibilities around handling the data they collect.

Since email campaign recipients may reside in various parts of the world, to stay compliant and in line with the law, marketers must understand the legal requirements beyond those in their home countries.

General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR:

Adopted in 2016. GDPR came to force in the EU and EEA in 2018., paving the way for many other privacy laws that followed.

With the primary purpose of giving people more control over their personal data, in email marketing, this regulation requires the explicit consent of the individual for receiving emails. Without proof of such consent, the company is in breach of GDPR.

To be compliant with GDPR:

  • You shouldn’t market to persons who have not opted in,
  • You must ensure opt-in is straightforward,
  • Your web forms have to make it clear what prospects are agreeing to,
  • You shouldn’t pre-tick or pre-select opt-in confirmation in your web forms.

Email archiving solutions can be of great help in staying legally compliant, as they keep a secure and reliable record of the communication in accordance with data retention laws and can later be used in any legal case. 

California Consumer Privacy Act – CCP:

When it comes to the US, there is no overarching law for all citizens. With its rules and purpose similar to GDPR, CCPA primarily grants rights to persons residing in California. 

When it comes to email marketing, this law requires that the company discloses:

  • what kind of info it gathers,
  • how information is shared,
  • how the customer can review and change their info,
  • The policy effective date and any changes the company made.

Due to this law, you can’t cold email persons living in California, as you need to have their specific consent to collect their email addresses.

To be compliant, the company also needs to create a privacy policy that covers all the important issues, such as:

  • the data it’s collecting,
  • the reason behind data collection,
  • the purpose of the information collection,
  • how it will keep information secure,
  • when the company may release data and to whom,
  • how the customers can amend or correct information,
  • how a dispute is managed in case of disagreement.

The way information is processed and stored is also significant. Even a data breach can be pretty costly – companies can be ordered to pay statutory damages between $100 to $750 per California resident and incident or actual damages.

CAN-SPAM Act:

Despite its name, this US anti-spam act covers any commercial email, not just the messages sent in bulk. Non-complying to CAN-SPAM may be costly, as a breach can be subject to a fine of up to $43,792.

However, its requirements are straightforward, so following them shouldn’t be a problem:

  • Use correct header information. 
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. A subject line should reflect the content of the message.
  • Disclose your message as an ad.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located and include a valid postal physical address.
  • Give recipients a chance to opt out of receiving future emails from you.
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly, with a maximum of 10 business days.
  • Control what others are doing on your behalf. Hiring another company for email marketing doesn’t contract away responsibility. 

Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations:

The UK anti-spam law requires that a commercial email be an honest and truthful description of the product or service. The company’s identity that markets its products should always be disclosed, even if they have someone else doing it on their behalf.

In most cases, persons need to opt-in explicitly for receiving emails. Still, there is also a soft opt-in for certain circumstances. To be covered by this exception, the company needs to follow specific rules:

  • the email address needs to be obtained in the course of a sale or during the negotiations. 
  • you can send emails to these persons only for similar products and services.
  • the person needs to have a chance to refuse to allow their information at the time they were initially provided.

How to Stay Compliant?

Even though the laws and regulations in this field differ from one geographical location to another, certain themes are common, giving marketers a chance to develop compliance programs and meet the requirements of multiple regulations.

Some of the most common elements are:

• Opt-in conditions: whether a company needs a pre-existing opt-in to send marketing emails to a person or unsolicited emails are permitted.

• Opt-out methods: requirements for a method to opt-out or unsubscribe. 

• Opt-out request processing: defined timeframes within which opt-out requests must be processed.

• Sender identification: Multiple regulations require that emails must identify the sender accurately. 

By understanding and meeting these requirements, you can stay compliant with relevant regulations. However, before starting your email campaigns, it’s always best to consult your legal team.

Nirmal Sarkar

Nirmal Sarkar is a Biotechnologist from the city of Joy, Kolkata. He is the founder of this blog and covers a wide range of topics from Gadgets to Software to Latest Offers. You can get in touch with him via nirmal@hitricks.com

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