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GDPR & Email Marketing Consent: Is Your Business Compliant?

Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to reach their target audience, create meaningful relationships, and drive more sales. And in the age of digital marketing, their outreach and inbound marketing efforts are propelled primarily by email. 

But with the added pressure of GDPR compliance, privacy regulations, and consent, email marketing is growing harder.

Direct email marketing involves sending out standalone ads to a targeted list of recipients. These email ads are usually built on rich media or HTML and are designed to elicit responses better than typical text-based email messages. 

However, businesses operating in the EU must comply with GDPR, Privacy, and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) when creating these direct email marketing campaigns. As a result, these data protection regulations transform how businesses incorporate emails into their advertising plan, making it much safer for their prospective customers to opt-in or out of the campaigns and only receive emails they consent to. 

Businesses are mandated to hire data protection services to ensure that their email marketing and consumer data collection meets GDPR and privacy laws. This usually means hiring Data Protection Officers (DPOs) or outsourcing the function.

Let’s understand the relationship between GDPR and email marketing and what your outsourced DPO can do to maintain compliance between the two. 

GDPR And Direct Email Marketing – What’s The Connection?

Direct marketing channels involving consumer and personal data are now required to meet regulations listed by UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. This gives people the absolute right to object to the use of their personal information for marketing. 

There is no reason for marketers not to be aware of these legislations and take appropriate actions beforehand to avoid all legal issues. After all, no one wants to end up on the wrong side of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Email continues to be the most effective marketing channel for businesses across the globe and at home. 

Research on consumers’ perspectives regarding email found that for 70% of users, email is their go-to channel for getting in touch with businesses. So, it makes sense that brands want to be proactive on email and reach out to their prospective and existing customers. 

However, GDPR mandates that you should never send unsolicited emails, and PECR goes so far as to outlaw it. This makes it more critical to ensure that you only send marketing emails to people who have given you their express consent. And failure to comply can result in fines that can debilitate businesses. 

Data Protection Regulations That Apply To Email Marketing

Marketers must make every effort to keep B2B and B2C marketing separate. This is mainly due to diversity in their consent regulations and scope. In other words, B2C involves stringent regulations, and at the end of the day, it’s all about getting consent. 

The B2C email marketing is governed by legal requirements as mandated by PECR. These regulations clearly state that organisations must gain consent from their subjects to market to them, making it a legal requirement, failing to which results in consequences. 

On the contrary, there is no such requirement for B2B relationships. B2B marketing messages rely on legitimate interest as your lawful basis. Still, B2B recipients also have a right to opt-out. So, always offer to unsubscribe to avoid legal chaos. It’s advisable to add it in the footer of the email.

Article 7 of PECR offers the following guidelines for email marketing consent:

  • The consent should be free and unforced
  • The subjects must have a clear understanding of what they are consenting to
  • All the specific marketing consent must be unbundled and specified separately from the rest of the terms and conditions.
  • It should include affirmative actions such as a pre-ticked tick box or an opt-out as prescribed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • There should be an option to be withdrawn at any time desired with an easy access unsubscribe link

Bear in mind that it’s compulsory for businesses to meet the above criteria to be legally free and not risk getting into a tight spot with the ICO. 

Another essential point is that the consent isn’t valid forever, so regularly review your marketing database to remove contacts that disagree to engage with your promotional emails.

Why Is An Outsourced DPO Your Best Way Out?

If you’re still wondering, “why do I need a DPO for email marketing?” the answer is quite simple. It would be best to have a reliable resource to keep you out of legal troubles with the GDPR and PECR. 

An outsourced DPO can help ensure that your data protection, privacy, and consumer consent processes comply with GDPR. They are specialised experts with comprehensive knowledge and bespoke marketing compliance training perfect to meet your organisational-specific marketing consent needs.