As I noted in a previous Email Insider, marketers have two choices: Go country by country to create email templates and permission guidelines that meet each set of laws where they send email or do business. Or, develop a hybrid single standard that establishes the organization’s global minimum requirements but with room to accommodate local variances.
Create a Global Standard
If you meet the law in the seven areas below, you will either meet or exceed regulations governing promotional email in the vast majority of the 77 countries in the report:
1. Consent: Get it in advance, even if local email laws allow unsolicited commercial email. While less straightforward, not allowing pre-checked opt-in boxes could be one of your global standards to ensure consent compliance in countries like Canada, China, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. Or you can take a hybrid approach and allow pre-checked boxes in a country like the U.S.
2. Real-time opt-out: Ninety-one percent of countries -- the greatest mandate -- require an unsubscribe link or dedicated email address to process an unsubscribe request.
What's not as clear is how long you have to process the request: from "immediate" to "as reasonable." Given customer expectations, though, moving to real-time processing instead of five- or 10-day windows will cover you in every country.
3. Postal address: Eighty-six percent of countries require this for promotional email, and 78% for transactional messages.
5. Preference center link: No country requires this for promotional email. One (Hungary) legislates it for transactional emails, and the rest are either unclear or say it's a best practice.
Marketers love to debate the value of preference centers. But if you have one, link to it in your email footer and give subscribers alternatives to opting out.
6. Link to corporate website: Seven of the 77 countries (8%) require this in both commercial (promotional) and transactional email message. The rest are either silent or unclear, or they consider it a best practice.
Once again, I wonder why anyone wouldn't want to provide an easy-to-find link back to the website.
7. Contact information: Only Canada and Turkey say you must include at least a telephone number or email address as well as the postal address for contact information.
Seems like another no-brainer. Some customers prefer to pick up the phone to get help. Here's your chance to exceed the law and provide a customer service at the same time.
Takeaway: Aim high to meet and exceed the laws
Guides like the EEC's help marketers understand and navigate their way through a complex set of global regulations. They're important to know, because you might be doing business in countries like Serbia or Canada, which require you to translate content into the local language (in Canada, French for residents of Quebec).
Focus on the countries where you do the most business, and try to identify outlier regulations. You might have to create some unique email policies and templates to accommodate regional needs, such as including your business registration number (Australia, Ireland, Guernsey and England), but it's less onerous than going country by country.
Until next time, take it up a notch!