Business Email Marketing Is Moving On -- Opt-In Or Ship Out

As the year goes out, a new one is shaping up to be dominated by exactly the same issue -- privacy. Or more particularly, we should say, permissioning. In general news we have the defeat this morning for the Government on its "snoopers charter." According to the European Court of Justice, it is going totally over the top to ask ISPs and email providers to keep hold of every email that everyone in the UK sends over an entire year, just in case there is a clue that could subsequently be found to link two people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

For email marketers, that is a side issue that will be played out in the courts. The big clarion cry from the DMA this week is that they intend to spend next year opposing a draft ePrivacy Directive. The organisation claims to have early sight of a draft copy of the proposed legislation, which widens the remit of opt-in email rules to b2b communication.

Now, many people -- myself included -- would be forgiven for thinking that this is a race that has already been run. When GDPR becomes enforceable through massive fines in 18 months time, anyone using anyone else's data will need explicit, informed and freely given permission for the use it is being put to. That applies whether we are talking about b2c or b2b. The GDPR rules have famously been touted as the end of the goldfish bowl at conferences inviting attendees to win a bottle of champagne, and in so doing, be contacted for ever more by the company putting up the fizz as email bait.

So I have to say I'm a little confused here. More will become clear when the EU releases the full draft of its proposed ePrivacy directive, but the point the DMA is making is that opt-in has been extended from persons to "legal persons," which extends the law from us human beings to the companies we work for. My confusion is that I was presuming this was the position outlined by GDPR when it comes to handling and processing data. Thus, when it comes to opt-in or opt-out, we're pretty much there already and the ePrivacy Directive will simply confirm that is the case. 

In other words, an email address that is clearly a corporate inbox, such as jane@company.com, is currently fair game, under PERC rules, and requires a specific opt-out to not be contacted. However, jane@gmail.com would require an opt-in because it's clearly personal. This is being overruled by GDPR that requires all email addresses to be specifically opted in. It's already the law, but the fines that give it teeth don't come in to effect until May 2018. The new ePrivacy Directive will simply be the icing on a cake that has already been baked. Won't it?

The law has moved on and while regulations and spam filters have helped to clear up personal inboxes, anyone who logs on to their corporate account will know there can be a lot of cold-call type emails and the same goes for real calls on the telephone. This is what lawmakers are trying to move us away from, and when it comes to cold email marketing, I can't see it being too much of a problem that a person's work email is given as much protection as their private address. Can you?

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2 comments about "Business Email Marketing Is Moving On -- Opt-In Or Ship Out".
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  1. Robin Caller from LOLA GROVE, December 21, 2016 at 6:56 p.m.

    Dear Sean, 
    You're entirely on point.

    BYOD is also BYOP and it's been brought on by the elites. 
    Here I am,  tapping away from my personal device, in my personal home, but on a business 'PERSONA'
    We can't have our cake and eat it. 

    We need to stop whining,  and start taking responsibility. 

    The cost of being completely squeaky clean and compliant is not overwhelming. It's far less than most non-compliant operators currently spend on dodging the bullets.

    The DMA have got this wrong, and I think it's because they're funded by a bunch of large entities staffed by a bunch who themselves have got it wrong. 

    It's not hard to be completely compliant.  And it's incredibly exciting to watch the DMA members running scared and deciding to fight, rather than deciding to fix. Opportunity knocks.




  2. Sean Hargrave from Sean Hargrave, December 22, 2016 at 4:22 a.m.

    Spot on Robin, and this is going to the new norm with millennials (there you go, i used 'the' word) who blur work and home and will routinely use a work address for personal use. There seems to be a trend that the younger a consumer is, the more likely they are to set up an account for brands to email them on which is less frequently checked. So, it's the work address which is frequently checked which brands will also want to reach young professionals on. So the same explicit, informed and freely given opt-in strikes me as fair.