GDPR Impact on Email Marketing

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) unifies different email laws from across member states. The new law is set to bring greater consistency to how businesses use and store data.

GDPR modifies various critical aspects of email marketing including how the marketers ask, collect and record users’ consent. The unified regulations will enable organizations to maximize the Digital Single Market opportunities by strengthening consumer trust and simplifying the regulatory environment for global businesses. Overall, the introduction of the EU’s new privacy and data protection regulation will have substantial impacts on the email industry.

Organizations that collect email addresses, keep customer details, contact lists, maintain HR records or send emails to EU citizens will be forced to adjust their data collection methods. Regardless of their locations, they must start studying the provisions of the GDPR and align their processes to the requirements. GDPR is clear about the penalties for non-compliance. Organizations that currently fall within the jurisdictional scope of the DPA will automatically be subjected to the GDPR.

The new regulations have different requirements for obtaining a user’s consent. Under GDPR, email marketers will only be permitted to send emails to individuals who have opted in to receive such messages. In fact, opt-in consent will be a must for all marketing communications. It is understood that most EU countries have been observing this provision. However, GDPR strengthens the rules by specifying the nature of consent needed for commercial communications. It will require marketers to collect affirmative consent that is specific, freely given and unambiguously informed.

The law introduces stringent conditions to the signup process. The subscribers will be entitled to information concerning the brands that collect their consent and the purpose for personal data collection. Certain processes that email marketers employ to obtain personal data under the current regulation will be deemed illegal and punishable by GDPR. For instance, using personal data to send marketing messages to users who have not approved it will be illegal. Furthermore, adding their email addresses to the mailing list without the users’ consent will be unlawful.

The best advice to all email marketers at this point of preparation is to ensure the establishment of specialized signup processes for different regions. In this case, EU citizens should have a signup process that complies with GDPR requirements. As for citizens from other regions, organizations could retain their signup processes because the new law does not affect them.

Brands will be required to prove and demonstrate sufficient evidence of compliance with the new EU legislation if they are challenged. GDPR tends to place the burden of proof of provided consent on the company that obtained it. As a result, marketing companies should design consent forms and store them as one of their preparation plans. The consent forms will be useful when companies are obliged to demonstrate compliance when challenged in court.

The days when brands would just send marketing messages to users without permission will come to an end when the new law takes effect. GDPR will not allow organizations to send emails to subscribers whose permissions were not collected as per the standards of the law. Firms will also face repercussions when they fail to provide sufficient proof of consent. This implies that email marketers have an opportunity to update their databases now before the deadline. They can start by ensuring that their databases contain subscribers whose permissions were collected in compliance with the new requirements.

The law is also strict on the protection of email inboxes of minors. Organizations will be forced to obtain parental consent before sending email messages to consumers below 14 years. In addition, firms will be required to be transparent about the information they collect from the email recipients across all ages.