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If your business has an online presence, you probably already engage in email marketing. Email marketing is cost-effective and a great way to engage with your customers and potential customers. That said, the law relating to email marketing has changed a lot in the past few years. Additionally, the fines for failing to comply with email marketing laws are substantial. This article will explain what you need to know when using email marketing in England and Wales to ensure you comply with the latest laws.

Permission-Based Email Marketing

The most important rule to be aware of and implement in your email marketing strategy is only to email people who have agreed to receive your emails. If they are already your customer, you must give them a straightforward way to ‘opt-out’ of receiving your marketing emails. As a customer, you have probably seen this when you purchase goods online; there is usually a tick-box or something similar for you to agree (or not) to receive emails from that supplier.

Use Opt-in Messages

The easiest way to ensure that you have permission from non-customers is to use an overt ‘opt-in’ message when collecting their email addresses. For example, you may have a form on your website that gives a potential customer some form of discount in return for their email address. In that instance, it may not be obvious to the person requesting the discount that putting in their email address means signing up to your mailing list. Therefore, it is best to either display a message for them to tick to agree to join your mailing list. Alternatively, you can send them a follow-up email to confirm they want to opt-in to your mailing list before sending them the discount.  

Abide by International Email Marketing Laws

If you sell goods to countries other than England and Wales, they may have specific laws relating to email marketing that you need to follow. Therefore, you should check email marketing laws relating to countries you intend to sell to.

Fortunately, many commercial email mailing list providers such as Mailchimp, Convertkit and ActiveCampaign have opt-in tools to make compliance with different laws easy.

Do Not Mislead Your Customers

Finally, you must not mislead your readers in any way through your email marketing. Your email address must be clear and valid, and your subject line should be relevant to the content of your email as well.  

Unsubscribing from Email Marketing

It is also imperative that you provide a straightforward way for your email subscribers to unsubscribe from your emails on every email you send. The easiest way to do this is to provide an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email you send.

In addition to this rule, note that Canadian law includes a requirement that all marketing emails contain the name of your company. You must also detail your company’s contact information. Importantly, this rule applies to any company, located anywhere in the world, sending emails to Canadian residents. With internet businesses, it can be tough to know where in the world somebody is from. So, if you think there is a chance you may have Canadian residents on your email list, you should ensure that your marketing emails also include this information. It is a straightforward way to ensure you do not fall foul of this law by accident.

Advertising Emails

Finally, if you are sending emails advertising your products, you must make it clear to the reader that it is an advert. You do not necessarily have to explicitly state ‘this is an advertisement’. However, it must be clear from the subject and content of the email that it is a sales email – not a personal email just for that reader. You can usually accomplish this in the subject line of your email. 

You may also want to allow another company to email your mailing list. This could be through a collaboration with them or some other reason. In any case, it is also important to note that you must have your mailing list contacts’ explicit consent. Indeed, you may wish to include an opt-in statement for this, while getting general permission from a person to be contacted.

Key Takeaways

Email marketing is a great way to engage with existing customers and win new business. However, it is vital that you abide by email marketing rules. Otherwise, regulators could hit your business with a hefty fine. The simplest way to ensure you stay on the right side of the law is to:

  • get explicit permission from people who give you their email address that you may email them;
  • make sure you provide a clear way to unsubscribe from your email list on every message that you send;
  • provide precise information about your company and contact details on every email message;
  • ensure you display a valid email address; and
  • state explicitly when your email is an advertising email.

If you need more information, our experienced e-commerce lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I ‘pre-tick’ the consent to join my marketing list checkbox for people giving me their email addresses?

No, it is crucial that the person giving you their email address opts-in by checking the box themselves. Otherwise, the person is not giving you explicit consent to email them.

Do email marketing rules differ if I contact customers by text or social media private messages?

The same rules apply to text messages and social media messaging as they do to email marketing.

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