How will GDPR Affect Email Marketing?

By on March 21, 2018

Less than three months are left before GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will come into action, an EU legislation that will create a sort of revolution in the world of online marketing. It’s going to change the way businesses deal with personal information of the people residing member countries of the European Union. In order to maintain the same level of success, those organizations will have to adapt their business strategies in order to match the requirements set by the GDPR.

So, What Exactly is the GDPR?

GDPR is a measure through which the European Union is planning to add to the protection of personal data of its citizens. Basically, this legislation will prevent marketing agencies to use personal information of individuals in order to promote certain products and services.

This measure will bring back control over personal data to the citizens, thus keeping their privacy protected. As this is a regulation passed by the main governing bodies of the EU (EU Council, European Commission, and European Parliament), it means that each of its 28 member countries will have to abide by it.

How will GDPR Affect Email Marketing?

Once the GDPR comes into action, marketing agencies will have to come up with new business methods if they want to stay on top. They will need to start taking data privacy and transparency much more seriously, otherwise they’re risking huge penalties.

One example of how the new legislation will affect marketing practices is that email campaigns will have to become much less aggressive. Basically, GDPR will put an end to spammy practices. So far, the users were protected from getting unwanted promotional offers through the use of spam filtering. But, once GDPR goes official, email users will have government protection as well.

Obviously, this kind of legislation will improve the users’ privacy and anonymity, but it has potential to ruin the business for marketing companies. Unless the users give them explicit permission, marketing agencies will have no right to send them promotional offers on email.

What Kind of Things will Marketers have to Watch Out For?

New marketing regime brought by the GDPR rules will officially start on 25th of May 2018, which means that the marketers have plenty of time to adjust to the new regulations. Furthermore, the Information Commissioners Office of the European Union has already set up guidelines with an aim to help the marketing agencies to understand fully the change that the new legislation will cause. Here are some of the most important things they will have to adapt to in the near future!

Personal data use needs to come with an explicit consent of the person in question. At the moment, it’s still possible to get users’ consent automatically. For example, some online services assume data use consent as a result of the user creating an account at their website. Instead, the users will have to give explicit permission by ticking the opt-in boxes explaining the matter. The use of pre-ticked boxes will be forbidden.

Furthermore, the new legislation will allow the users to retrieve their consent easily. So far, giving data-share consent meant that the marketers were allowed to use it indefinitely. That’s gonna change as soon as GDPR comes into force.

What if a Data Breach Happens?

The chances are high that a number of marketing agencies will end up breaking the rules after GDPR comes into action. Surely, most of those breaches will happen by accident. Even with just three months left before the official start of the new legislation, a big number of marketers have no clue about what GDPR entails. With not enough information on this subject, the marketers might end up breaking the rules unwillingly.

Of course, you can be sure that there are gonna be some who will break the new legislation on purpose. By ignoring the GDPR rules, they might get ahead of the law-abiding competition. However, this is something that carries a lot of risk, as consequences can be quite serious.

For example, the marketing agencies that get involved in data breach might get a hefty financial penalty of up to 20 million euro or 4% of their revenue. Moreover, intentional breaking of the GDPR rules is not the only case when the marketers might get punished. Unless they properly train their staff to comply with the rules and regulations set by the GDPR, they will have to pay a fine, not to mention that in order to be allowed to keep on with their business, they will have to pay for the training of their employees.

About Alisa Bagrii

A digital marketer, IT lover and life optimist.
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