2016 was a turbulent time for email marketing although perhaps not as concerning as the pundits suggested it would be. We went from tragedy to, at worst, tragedy put of.
Brexit terms are unlikely to be settled for some time and uncertainty is the enemy of commerce. We have had suggestions, promises and pointers, but definitive replies are something for the future. We have to plan without facts.
There have been those in authority who have been brave enough to put their thoughts out into the open. Elizabeth Denham, the new Chief of the Information Commissioner’s Office, in a speech in July stated that whatever the outcome of the negotiations, the rules and regulations that apply to email marketing and online sales at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, will probably still apply.
She did hint that those companies that restrict their sales to the UK might have different regulations to follow but it seems clear that the specifics would be a long time coming. In other words, it will go on much as before.
With the installation of Ms Dehham we had something of a change of emphasis from the ICO. It became not so much reactive as investigative and with that came an increase in fines and an apparent willingness to impose them. This mirrored the stance of the EU both centrally and with the regulatory bodies of some individual countries.
That the USA was forced into something of a climb down by the EU over Privacy Shield was something of a positive, but on the other hand we were given the little changed alternative of Safe Harbour, which is Privacy Shield with a few checks.
2016 was evolutionary rather than revolutionary for email marketing. We have had minor increases in consumer rights, and Brexit doesn’t seem so bad as painted, nor as good. We can plan with some confidence in the knowledge that there will not be a sudden change of direction in legislation. The General Data Protection Regulations is not something of passing interest.
We will cover what is likely to come in 2017 for email marketing in later articles.