Learn the Rules. And you won’t rub anyone up the wrong way.
At WizEmail, we don’t only want to protect you. We want to protect your clients. And we want to protect ourselves. Which is why we firmly insist that you play by the rules when it comes to all of your email marketing campaigns.
Getting nervous? Don’t be. It’s really straightforward. But before we run you through the relevant laws, have a gander at these four important points about email marketing law:
- It isn't Draconian. You may well get to do a bunch more than you originally thought, while still complying with the rules.
- It exists because people – like you – hate getting spam. So breaking the law is only going to drive your customers up the wall anyway.
- It’s black and white, with very few grey areas. And it doesn't change. Once you know it, you know it.
- It does however vary from country to country. The UK, for example has slightly more liberal laws than Germany. For the sake of this page, we’re going to focus on UK law (for obvious reasons). So if you’re planning to send a lot of emails elsewhere, it might be worth having a more thorough check online to find out all the relevant rules in those countries. (Just a little heads up for you.)
The Fundamental Rules – Pay Attention!
- The commercial nature of your message must be clear to the recipient from the outset. No trickery please.
- You must not conceal or disguise the origin of the message.
- You must give a valid unsubscribe address. And although it’s a headache for everyone involved (so we don’t advise it), a postal address IS legally valid.
- Your email recipients must have OPTED IN to receive it.
BUT – there are two exceptions to this last OPT IN rule:
- You’re allowed to promote your business products (only) to employees of a Limited Company.
- If someone’s bought – or even shown interest in buying – something from you, and given you their email address for this purpose, then you can promote SIMILAR goods and services to them. But you must give them a free and proper opt-out mechanism. Got it?
What about the ‘forward to a friend’ option and viral emails? Good question. We get asked about this a lot. So here are the essentials:
- You must make it clear that your recipient should only forward the email to people they think will be happy to receive it. No one else.
- If you try to encourage forwarding by way of incentive, and your email subsequently gets forwarded to some unwilling recipients, you’ll be liable for it. And you’ll have to pay the price.
- You can’t ask recipients for anyone else’s email address – unless you or they have the specific consent of those individuals. Which is why WizEmail won’t tell you the addresses of any friends who get an email forwarded to them.
What you can do…
- Ask a customer if they mind you PASSING THEIR DETAILS on to a third party organization to promote their products. If they agree, go for it. But make sure it’s a reputable third party who abides by the law.
- Send genuine business-related emails to your existing customers, or people who have left their details with you when making a sales enquiry – as long as they’re about similar products or services. Nothing random please.
What you can’t do…
- Use competitions or surveys as a sneaky way to build a mailing list. Recipients must specifically tell you – in one way or another – that they are opting in to receive promotional emails.
- Claim that someone’s opted-in if you can’t prove it. Even if you've bought lists from third parties. It’s your responsibility to check the source of the list. OK?
What you should do…
- Get a data protection officer to make sure you’re doing it all right. The Sheriff will do his best to keep you in line, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Check out the Office of the Information Commissioner’s and the DMA’s websites for some spot on guidance – and loads more info about the Data Protection Act.