How to succeed at compliant email marketing

by Julie Knight 19 Feb, 2019

How to succeed at compliant email marketing


Worried your email campaign may not be compliant? Struggling with a legal team that wants to ban all email marketing post General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

If you have considered compliance at all, that’s a great start; but it is always possible to overlook a few key aspects. For example, what happens if you receive a complaint about an email campaign? Is there a privacy policy included on every email? Is anyone delegated to respond when someone asks what personal data you are holding about them and why?

In this blog we will discuss some of the key processes to put in place to create a compliant email marketing campaign.


Avoid the Regulation Rabbit Hole

As we all know, evolving data privacy concerns have changed the landscape somewhat for data marketers. Email marketing campaigns must now comply with both the new GDPR as well as the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (as amended) (PECR).

The former applies to the processing of personal data; while the latter deals with gaining permission to send marketing by email. There is a key difference between sole traders/partnerships and corporates (B2B) when you look at PECR. In a B2B environment there is an exemption for employees of corporates which means you can send a marketing email to these individuals without their prior consent.  As every edgy legal team will tell you – repeatedly! – the penalties for breach are seriously painful, to both reputation and the bottom line.

So, yes, email marketing has become more demanding. But can your business really afford to step away from this fundamental component of the marketing mix? Email is still the dominant business communication platform and ditching email marketing simply for fear of compliance breach is a knee jerk reaction that is hard to justify.


Embed Compliant Processes

It is really important to get some perspective.  By embedding a number of email compliance processes within the marketing model, a huge swathe of legal concerns can be immediately resolved.  For example:

  1. What is the policy for dispute resolution? No one wants to receive a complaint about an email marketing campaign, but it happens. Do you have a complaints procedure in place? Is the escalation process clearly defined and, critically, have you tested it? Problems need to be resolved quickly.
  2. How are you planning to respond to a subject access request (SAR)? Who is responsible for answering the query? Do you know what information is required (what data you hold, where you hold it and how you use it) and how easy is it to find? What’s the timeline for replying and, again, have you tested that the process works?
  3. Have you ensured every email includes a privacy policy? This is a simple but essential requirement, a legal statement that discloses your use of personal information to email recipients. Key points to include are: what personal information you collect; why you collect it and how you use it, including whether any third parties are allowed to use the information. Don’t forget to check this privacy statement is also available on the web site.

Putting these fundamental processes in place will go a long way to proving to your legal team that marketing has a handle on regulatory demands. It will also provide everyone in marketing with that essential confidence that email marketing campaigns are compliant.

With a good compliance foundation in place, you have the chance to refocus on the key performance issues such as campaign timing and targeting. Put the worries aside and get email marketing back on track.

If you want help with navigating email marketing compliance, or advice on using data for better B2B lead generation, download our eGuide.

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