You’ve probably familiar with GDPR, the CAN-SPAM Act, CASL, and California’s CCPA.
All these regulations have been introduced in different countries over the past decade in order to protect their citizens from receiving unsolicited and unwanted emails.
That’s the reason you need to be very careful when it comes to ensuring your email policies are compliant with the current laws of the countries in which you’re conducting business. Otherwise, you risk getting fined.
Besides making sure that you’re reaching out only to email recipients and customers who have given you their explicit consent to receive electronic messages from your company, there’s another factor that you should take into consideration when it comes to email communication – protection of your company’s and recipients’ sensitive information. Cybercriminals can easily intercept your emails and get hold of credit card numbers and other confidential information.
Here are a couple of tips that will help you become and stay email compliant.
1. Make Sure to Obtain Permission to Email People on Your List
Regardless of how you obtained your contacts, it’s crucial to ask them for permission to send them email messages.
Generally speaking there are two kinds of consent:
- Implied permission. This kind of consent refers to the people you already have an existing business relationship with. They might be your customers, someone who subscribed to your newsletter, or an active member of your community.
- Express permission. In case you don’t have any relationship with a potential email recipient, you’ll have to ask them for express permission. You can do this by creating a subscribe form on your website in which they will enter their email address, for example.
It’s very important to mention that you should be able to prove how you obtained somebody’s email address. GDPR is very particular about collecting only the data you need for a marketing campaign, as well as handling it appropriately.
For example, if you come across someone’s email on LinkedIn, you should state this in your message, and let them know that you’ll stop emailing them and delete their information in case they ask you to. This means that besides unsubscribing them from your email system, you should also delete their personal information from all the places where you stored it.
2. Archive Your Emails in Compliance with Industry Standards
When we’re talking about the concept of email archiving compliance, it’s essential to establish that simply backing up your business emails won’t suffice.
Compliance regulations refer to the protection and preservation of enterprise data, and that includes electronically stored information such as emails. The purpose of these legal rules is to prevent unauthorized access and ensure that this information is stored for a predefined amount of time before disposal in case they’re required for a legal proceeding.
And this can be achieved only with the help of reliable email archiving solutions. Given that email is such an important channel of enterprise communication as well as a credible business record, you should archive your emails in a manner that allows you to store them in their original format and quickly locate every message in case of a legal dispute, audit, or investigation.
Given that it’s crucial to hand over your emails without any delay in such cases, email archiving can save you a lot of money as the penalties for failure to comply with these strict regulations can be huge.
3. Include an Opt-Out Button in Your Emails
Even if your recipients have given you their express permission to email them, they can change their minds and decide to withdraw it.
And you should make it easy for them to do this.
Placing a visible opt-out button in your every email is a must if you want to stay compliant. You need to allow your recipients to opt out of receiving your email messages, but it’s equally important for this mechanism to be simple so that even those who are not especially tech-savvy can understand and use it.
Similarly, every opt-out request should be honored promptly. For example, according to CAN-SPAM, an unsubscribe has to be processed within 10 business days. Also, no opt-out fee should be charged. The same law says that you aren’t allowed to ask for any personal information from your recipients other than their email address, or demand they take any step other than sending an opt-out email or visiting a single opt-out page.
4. Safeguard Your Recipients’ Data
Practicing good data security plays an important role in staying compliant.
Regardless of whether you’re subject to GDPR or any other data protection regulation, you should make sure only authorized people have access to your recipients’ data, as well as that you store it properly, keep it only as long as you need it, and share it with somebody else only with your recipients’ consent.
If we bear in mind that there’s a cyber attack every 39 seconds, it’s clear that your devices and networks have to be protected. Install antivirus software and
Also, educating your employees on how to avoid cyber threats and having a cybersecurity policy in place can be important steps in safeguarding your data.
For example, weak passwords can compromise the security of your network, and it’s crucial to ensure that all your employees use two-factor authentication.
4. Don’t Mislead Your Recipients
Using misleading header information such as a subject line that has nothing to do with the copy of your email, or an incorrect “from” name is against email compliance regulations.
Don’t try to trick your audience into opening your emails as that will not only have you marked as a spammer but also result in an increased number of unsubscribes.
It’s OK to use a teasing subject line that will come off as intriguing but not deceptive. The same goes for the “from” field – your recipients should know who the message is before they decide whether they want to open it.
Finally, using a no-reply email address maybe isn’t against compliance regulations, but it’s much better to use the one that allows your recipients to respond and get in touch with you directly.
Following these four simple steps will help your company remain email compliant and improve the success of your email marketing efforts.