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Note: This blog post should not be considered legal advice. For any questions regarding the law, please consult an attorney.
Perhaps it goes without saying: it’s simply good practice to understand the laws that apply wherever you plan to conduct business. This includes understanding privacy and other regulations regarding electronic communications such as email.
Marketers should be aware of the potential pitfalls related to email marketing, and that’s the focus of this post.
Pitfall 1: Not Knowing the Laws that Govern Where you Do Business
In the U.S., the law governing email communication is the CAN-SPAM act.
Other countries have their own laws covering email advertising and communications. So the laws you need to become familiar with depend on which country you’re operating in or sending emails to.
The European Union recently enacted a set of privacy rules related to its citizens known as the General Data Protection Regulation. It covers much more than email communications. Essentially, every company that uses personal data from EU citizens must comply. If you’re collecting email addresses and sending email to subscribers in the EU, you have to comply with GDPR—no matter where you’re based. So even if you don’t have a physical location in one of the EU member countries, you still need to follow GDPR.
Laws change, so be sure to do your research and consult your legal counsel.
Pitfall 2: Emailing Without the Recipient’s Permission
The rules around permissions can vary depending on a particular country’s electronic communications laws. Generally, having a business relationship with the recipient allows you to communicate with them. They may be a member of your eClub or online community, purchased goods or services from you, or donated to your nonprofit. Alternatively, they may have given you explicit permission to email them when when they gave you their contact information via your web site or some other method - for example, signing up for coupons, special offers, or a newsletter.
Pitfall 3: Failing to Identify Yourself
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous organizations and individuals who would try to deceive people regarding the actual sender behind a particular email. To avoid issues, be sure to: