Email is great. We love it! I’m sure you do too!
Just like any other marketing tactic, email gets its ROI if properly executed. Yes, we have countless statistics that say email marketing can bring 1000%+ ROI, but this doesn’t mean that return magically happens.
I’m sure you know this. It’s true for everything you do.
However, before you think about catchy subject lines and witty email copy, you have one hurdle that’s not present in all other marketing tactics: compliance.
If your email marketing is not legal or compliant, the ROI might still be there but you’ll spend it faster than you can say “sent” on fines. Data collection (like the kind you do to grow your list) is heavily regulated and it’s expected that more laws and regulations will be introduced in most countries. Let’s see what they are.
The laws below do not affect the entire world. However, it’s important to note that, even if they are applicable to a single country or region, they may affect how you collect data.
For example, GDPR (more details on it below) is applicable to the EU countries only. But if your website is accessible within the EU, you need to abide by it, irrespective of where your business is incorporated. If someone from the EU who subscribes to your email list detects something that is not GDPR-compliant and files a complaint, you will be liable for a fine.
Our recommendation: read through this list of laws and make sure to stay up to date with them. If you feel like some of them are too strict, make your website inaccessible for users from those countries.
GDPR is the most extensive and strict data privacy in the world. It was introduced by the European Union in 2018 and it is applicable to any business that collects personal information from EU residents.
To get a better idea of how strict GDPR is, you need to know that most large companies in the EU (or outside of it, but who collect data from EU residents) have a GDPR department. The only task of that department is to ensure that their data collection and data management practices are GDPR-compliant.
The fines are directly proportional to a business’s turnover. Some of the biggest fines ever paid are:
OK, now that we’ve established that GDPR is no joke, let’s see what it has to say about email marketing specifically:
CAN-SPAM is the oldest of these laws and regulations. It was introduced back in 2003 as a means to limit the flow of spam and unsolicited pornography in users’ inboxes.
CAN-SPAM applies to US businesses, but, just like GDPR, also to non-US businesses that send emails to US residents.
The requirements are a bit laxer than those of GDPR and ultimately boil down to common sense:
As the name suggests, CASL is a Canadian set of laws and regulations designed to protect data privacy. Just like GDPR and CAN-SPAM, it doesn’t only apply to Canadian businesses, but also to foreign ones that collect personal data from Canadian residents.
Here’s what you need to do for your email marketing to be CASL-compliant:
These are the three major data privacy regulation sets that you need to consider in your email marketing.
The first one should be quite obvious, but I know that it’s often easy to get lost in the fine print and forget about the big, obvious picture. So here it is again:
All email marketing platforms worth their salt make this pretty clear: you can’t send emails unless you’ve got consent from each email address owner. However, you also have the option to upload a pre-existing email list to an email marketing platform.
You need that option because you may have changed your email marketing provider or because you may have gathered those emails in another platform, like a CRM.
The trouble with this option is that a lot of people abuse it. You can still find lists to buy online. That’s the best way to put your business on the radar for a hefty fine. So, say it with me: under no circumstances will I buy an email list. It’s illegal and useless anyway because everybody hates spam and unsolicited emails.
Excellent! Now that we’ve got this mantra covered, let’s move on to how you can get consent the right way.
A common practice to get more subscribers is to add an already checked box to a form for something completely different. For instance:
Here’s how SEMrush does it right:
See how both these boxes are unticked? This is the way to go for email marketing compliance!
An efficient way to gain more email subscribers that’s also compliant is a pop-up (or another type of form) window. This form should be specifically created for your mailing list and it should not misrepresent the reason for consent in any way.
Want to sweeten the pot and STILL be compliant? Add one of these things after “Subscribe to our newsletter and…”:
A cool example from Tommy Hilfiger:
You can create a pop-up that triggers in key moments or depends on some criteria. For instance:
Believe it or not, some people accidentally subscribe to your newsletter, even if you leave the box unticked. If you don’t want to irate your users, the best way to avoid accidental subscriptions is to ask them to confirm via email.
Here’s an example of what this would look like:
Sounds like too much of a hassle for you and your subscribers? Perhaps, but aside from making your email marketing compliant, it comes with an additional benefit: you’ll know that every one of your subscribers really wants to be on your list.
This means fewer skewed metrics and more relevant reports.
All the big email marketing platforms add this automatically. In case you’re using a lesser-known platform, make sure to double-check this.
Remember that this option is required in all the laws mentioned above, so it’s definitely a must-have. If you’re worried about how it would look, don’t be. It’s usually pretty inconspicuous:
Our friends at Constant Contact also have a few handy templates to help you learn more about why your users want to unsubscribe. This will help you tailor your campaigns better. A window like the one below can be set to appear when a user clicks on “unsubscribe”:
The laws sound threatening, and the fines even more so. But remember that this is their job — to deter you from doing the wrong thing.
If you can get past the legalese, you’ll see that email marketing compliance is, in essence, common sense. If in doubt, ask yourself: would you like your data to be treated the way you treat that of your users’?
Want to know more about how SyncApps uses and stores your data or how we can help you ensure that your email marketing is compliant with GDPR, CAN-SPAM, CASL, and others? Our support department is here for you 24/7 — reach out!