The constant online presence of the customer, coupled with high efficiency at low costs and direct customer communication, has resulted in almost no companies that don't distribute information via email to their recipients.
In the realm of email marketing, there's a legal framework that advertising companies must adhere to. This framework protects the customer from unsolicited advertisements and thus ensures their focus remains on relevant and desired information.
In addition to these legal mandates, it's also advisable to scrutinize the utility each campaign offers the customer and, as much as possible, to define a narrow target audience for your mailings. Studies indicate that when customers receive information they deem irrelevant, their perception of the advertising company is negatively affected. Therefore, the benefits to the customer should always be central to any marketing considerations.
To whom can I send email campaigns?
Once you obtain the recipient's consent and ensure there's an option to unsubscribe in every email, you're safe. Without the recipient's agreement, emails can be sent to no more than 50 addresses. However, this is only legally compliant if such emails don't serve as direct advertising for products and/or services. Emails can be sent to customers under specific conditions and when there's an active customer relationship.
How can the recipient's consent be obtained?
Consent isn't bound by any specific form and can be provided in various ways. The recipient can grant permission in writing, through email, verbally, or even by checking a consent box on a web form. In this case, the recipient must initiate the action, and the box shouldn't be pre-filled. Any other form of implicit consent from the recipient is also permissible, but from an evidentiary perspective, it's recommended only when there's adequate documentation. Regular communication in active business relationships can be seen as giving consent.
In Europe, due to the GDPR, the Double-Opt-In process is required to obtain consent to receive mailings.
With the Double-Opt-In, after submitting their email address, the interested party receives a message asking them to click on a link. Only after clicking on this confirmation link is the email address added to the sender's distribution list. This process ensures that email addresses aren't used without the recipient's consent. This method fully meets the legal requirements for consent.
It should be noted that the confirmation email can only be sent once to the recipient and shouldn't contain advertising before confirmation. If the link isn't confirmed, the recipient shouldn't receive any more emails urging them to click on the link.
In Austria, the Double-Opt-In method is the legally mandated form of consent to send mailings to an email address. This can vary based on the country's specific legal situation. The principle generally adhered to is the "recipient country principle," i.e., senders must abide by the legalities in the recipient's country.
Recipient Country Principle
Regardless of the sender's country, email campaigns must always adhere to the legal conditions of the recipient's country. Before sending to an international audience, it's essential to review the legal situation in each country targeted to find common ground. This means the strictest conditions should be met, selecting a method acceptable in all targeted countries.
When should the recipient's consent be obtained?
Consent from the recipient must be granted even before the first distribution of an advertising or mass email. Due to the need for evidence, written consent is advised.
There must always be an option to unsubscribe!
Both at the European level in the Communications Data Protection Directive 2002/58/EG and in the TKG 2003, combinations of Opt-In and Opt-Out were established as legal frameworks for regulating the issue of unwanted advertising.
Every email broadcast must contain an option for recipients to unsubscribe from the newsletter. Although this isn't tied to any form, the option must be immediate, free, and straightforward. It's therefore recommended in practice to automatically integrate an unsubscribe link into every mailing. After clicking on this link, the recipient is added to a blacklist, and the email marketing software ensures that this address will not be targeted again in the future.
In addition to country-specific data protection laws, the GDPR serves as the legal basis for email marketing in Europe. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) plays a pivotal role in email marketing. It protects the privacy of EU citizens by setting stringent rules for processing personal data. In email marketing, this means companies require explicit consent from recipients to use their data. The GDPR demands transparent data protection guidelines, clear consent declarations, and simple unsubscribe procedures. Companies must ensure data is stored and processed securely, and they are liable for breaches. The GDPR has pushed email marketing by improving the quality of communication and bolstering privacy protections. Still, it also necessitates diligent compliance to avoid penalties.
In Germany and Austria, similar information duties apply to email newsletters due to EU-wide data protection regulations, especially the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The main requirements include:
1. Sender Identification: The sender of the newsletter must be clearly identified. This includes the name of the company and contact information.
2. Purpose of Data Processing: It must be made clear why the recipient's email address is being collected and how it will be used.
3. Consent: Recipient consent (Opt-in) is required. This means that recipients must actively agree before being added to the distribution list.
4. Withdrawal Option: Every newsletter must provide an easy way to unsubscribe (Opt-out). This option must be readily accessible.
6. Logging: Companies must keep records to prove recipient consent.
7. Clear Information about Rights: Recipients should be informed about their rights regarding their data, such as the right to access, rectify, and delete.
These information duties apply in both Germany and Austria and serve to protect privacy and comply with data protection laws. Companies must ensure that their email marketing practices meet these requirements to avoid legal consequences. Please also consider country-specific laws regarding data protection and information duties.