An email has become an essential tool in today's email marketing that helps engage with customers effectively. However, as email marketers, you must know that managing email marketing strategy means collecting users' email addresses and thus, collecting their personal data. And this process must be done in accordance with specific privacy laws. For example, if your main target audience is located in the EU, your email marketing efforts must follow GDPR compliance.
In our article, we will introduce you to what exactly GDPR is and the main rules for GDPR email marketing. We also will give you recommendations on how to make your email marketing GDPR-compliant with ease.
But first, let's define what the GDPR is.
What is the GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is a set of rules and standards describing how EU users' data must be processed. And it doesn't matter whether your business is outside the European Union. So if you consider EU citizens as your potential customers, you have to make your business GDPR-compliant.
Adding the GDPR best practices to your GDPR email marketing will positively influence the click-through and engagement rates. And on the contrary, violating these rules won't only result in losing your subscribers but in severe fines by the European Commission.
What does GDPR email marketing compliance mean?
The GDPR's main rule is about receiving customers' consent before collecting their data. For email marketing, it means requiring to receive users' consent to send marketing emails to individuals. This consent must be informed, freely given, and provided by a clear user's affirmative action. Usually, to obtain such permission, companies use a checkbox on their websites asking whether users want to receive marketing emails. By selecting 'Yes,' users notify about their eagerness to receive newsletters from your company. Thus, you can start collecting their personal data lawfully.
How can GDPR affect email marketing services?
As we have already told you, conducting compliant email marketing under GDPR means getting consent from users to send them marketing emails. This practice requires some extra steps from your side like:
- Opt-in permission rules for your new customers;
- Storage of proof of consent;
- Collection of the minimum personal data;
- Legal bases for collecting users' personal data lawfully;
- Ability to quickly remove customers' information if asked by a customer.
So, do all these rules make email marketing very complex and challenging for marketers who want to target the EU? Not really. You must understand that the GDPR doesn't ban sending emails. Therefore, conducting efficient email marketing activities is still possible by following some regulations we will describe in the next chapters. Besides, showing your customers your respect and care will positively influence your brand image in the market.
How has GDPR impacted marketing strategies?
The GDPR is all about the data protection of the users. The users get the right to know which type of data is collected, when, and why, and request to delete their information if they do not want to share it any longer. It also requires businesses to immediately report on any data breach they experience and the data that has been compromised.
Marketing departments have to pay close attention to following the GDPR rules as it directly influences email marketing campaigns as well as the rest of marketing activities. This, in turn, makes them fully reconsider marketing initiatives that involve users' personal data. To become GDPR-compliant, you now have to:
- Make all your marketing efforts transparent, clear, and accessible to your customers in the detailed Data Protection Policy;
- Provide customers with a genuine choice of giving consent freely;
- Subject all your customers from the email list to opt-in or double opt-in process to act as GDPR laws require.
In digital marketing, personal data is still the primary tool for digital marketing, and the GDPR has enhanced the users' data protection rights. But, on the other hand, it makes digital marketing more demanding for businesses, as you have to rearrange your marketing activities to stay compliant.
GDPR recommendations for Email Marketing
There are certain GDPR recommendations that must be followed in email marketing. Here, we have collected some of the most crucial ones:
- Consent: you have to receive informed consent from each user before subscription. By informed, we mean informing users that they consent to receive marketing emails through their positive action.
- Access with no opt-in: you can't prohibit access to your content if the users disagree with the subscription, as they can freely give their consent. You can't make it look like it is a mandatory step.
Why should your Email Marketing be GDPR Compliant?
Lately, there have been significant abuses of customers' personal data, which is why today, the European Commission wants to keep track of how businesses process users' data. Mainly, these companies collect customers' personal data without stating the reason for their collection. And even if it is not made for malicious purposes, such companies neglect security and technical measures so that the data can be easily compromised or stolen by online thefts.
So, if you are targeting not only the local market but want to expand your business to EU customers, you must adhere to the rules stated in the GDPR. If not, then chances are that you will be fined with severe penalties for violating the service agreement. What is more, your reputation will be ruined, and most likely, it won't get better anytime soon.
How to Make Your Email GDPR Compliant
Now that you know the reasons why you just have to make your email marketing GDPR compliant, here are some mandatory steps that you have to take to do so:
Right opt-in forms
Having a clear opt-in form is a must for GDPR. What does this mean? It means that you can't create automatic opt-in in your forms with a preselected checkbox. The user is the only one that makes a choice. Besides, it is not enough to ensure that your opt-in forms don't have a positive default selection. You also have to have a clear and specific statement of consent.
You must store a record of proof that you obtained consent from users. This record must include user identity, the date when it was given, and what the user has consented to. Besides, it is necessary to indicate the methods you use to obtain the consent, the information on whether the user who gave consent had later withdrawn it, and the legal bases of receiving the permission from a user.
The GDPR's primary goal is to protect users. That is why you have to stay honest by staying clear about the sender's identity, indicating your actual company address and the nature of the content sent.
There are also some requirements for the content of your email. For example, your emails must clearly state the nature of your message, disclose their purpose, and indicate whether they are promotional emails or not. Besides, it must include the unsubscribe link, which is visible to the readers so that they can easily unsubscribe if they do not want to receive emails anymore (we will talk more about it later).
Another essential requirement is that your email must contain only the content to which users have given their consent. For example, if the user agreed to receive emails about your product, it would be a severe violation of GDPR to send them emails with information about third-party products. If you want to send different types of emails, you must receive consent for each of them. And no, that doesn't mean you have to waste time creating numerous opt-ins. Instead, you can add multiple checkboxes to each email type and let users select which they want.
Third-party companies or apps
Even if third-party companies deal with your email marketing or you use some apps for this purpose, you still are responsible for complying with GDPR as the data owner. Of course, they will also have some legal obligations, but they won't be alone in this. So, do not stand aside and let other companies do what they want with your email marketing.
Easy and immediate unsubscription
Under GDPR, you must give potential customers an option to withdraw their consent by adding an unsubscribe link to your email. Once the user asks to withdraw their consent, you have 30 days to fulfill it. However, if your customers continue receiving emails, no matter if they ask to withdraw their consent one day or thirty days ago, they won't be pleased with them. So, you have to unsubscribe your users as soon as possible. This way, you will avoid frustration and show respect to your users.
Take advantage of the GDPR email compliance apps
Yes, aligning with all the regulations is difficult, so even professionals can fail. But do not panic! If you are worried about staying GDPR-compliant, you can always take advantage of the specialized app like GDPR Compliance by GrowthDot for the Zendesk help desk. This helpful app lets you quickly delete users' personal data according to the EU's and Californian privacy regulations, leaving only the data needed for business reports. So, you do not need to constantly check whether you adhere to GDPR regulations, as the app will help you out.
GDPR is a set of strict regulations on how you must behave with your customers through email marketing, and your main aim is to adhere to those rules. It would be best if you simply stayed careful with the ways you collect and store personal data from EU residents, or you might get fined. Using GDPR, the European Commission aims to get websites that care about email security and data protection of European users.
Read more about GDPR Compliance
Stay aware of how to comply with GDPR