At Newsletterhub we insist that our clients comply with the law in relation to managing their database. Doing so protects the reputation of both of us. First of all let’s be clear about why there are laws governing email marketing in the first place. It’s there because people hate receiving spam. So breaking it is only going to upset your customers and potential customers.
Laws are not standardised across Europe – indeed, the UK has slightly more liberal regulations than, say, Germany. For the purposes of this overview, we’ll concentrate on UK law.
What does the law require?
The commercial nature of your message must be clear to the recipient from the outset
You must not conceal or disguise the sender of the message
You must give a valid unsubscribe address or methiod of unsubscription. A postal address IS valid legally
Recipients of your email must have OPTED IN to receive it.
There are two exceptions to this last ‘opt-in’ rule:
You can promote your business products (only) to employees of a Limited Company.
If an individual has bought (or negotiated to buy) something from you, and provided their email address for this, you can promote SIMILAR goods and services to them. Note – you do not have to actually make the sale.
You must supply a valid and free opt-out mechanism.
What about ‘Forward to a Friend’ and viral emails
You cannot ask a recipient to provide you with other people’s email addresses, unless you have the specific consent of those individuals – whether directly to you or via the original recipient. For this reason, to protect you under the Data Protection Act, Newsletterhub do not store the email addresses of ‘friends’ who have had newsletters forwarded to.
Ask a recipient if they mind you PASSING THEIR DETAILS to a third party organisation to promote their products, and then if they agree pass on their details.
Ensure that the third party is reputable and complies with the law (eg with unsubscribes etc).
Send genuine business-related emails to your existing customers, or to people who have previously left their details with you when making a sales enquiry, provided the email is about a similar product.
Treat competitions etc., as an ‘opt in’ way of building a mailing list – recipients must specifically say that they are opting in to receive promotional emails