Email Data & Legislation

Email Legislation

The first thing to consider with email data is legislation. Do the wrong thing and you are exposing yourself to a potential fine of £5000 – unlikely but possible. With regard to consumer data the law is simple – you absolutely must have an opt-in from the individual before you can send marketing material to them. With businesses however it is not so black and white. Current UK Data Protection law permits you to send unsolicited emails to business email addresses on business matters only and there is no requirement for the recipient to opt-in.

The critical thing however is that this only applies to LTD companies and PLCs, not sole traders or partnerships which are treated the same way as individual consumers. If you want to promote your services to non LTD companies you may do so but only by the use of generic emails i.e. info@, sales@ etc.

Email Data Integrity

If a data subject requests to be removed from your email list, you must remove them and you must not send them emails again. This is a central part of the Electronic Communications Act and is there to protect people from unscrupulous companies who take little or no care over the compilation and updating of their data. To the trained eye these are fairly easy to spot but they may not be so obvious to you.

The tell tale sign is usually the price so if you think it looks too good to be true then you are probably right – as with most things it will be cheap for a reason. They probably won’t be members of the DMA and it is highly unlikely that they will be able to offer any realistic guarantees with regard to accuracy so I think a wide berth would be the best approach. Legitimate users of well researched and maintained lists (like ours) however have nothing to fear from this law.

Some list providers use terms like opt-in, double opt-in, permission based etc but in doing so they are being what could best be described as a touch economical with the truth. It is unlikely that many (if any) actually call the individuals on the list asking their permission to sell their personal email address to third parties. Would you say yes to that question? Let’s face it, that’s not the way it works in the real world.

What To Expect From Your Broadcast

Now what about the email broadcast itself? Well the first thing to bear in mind is that you must expect approximately 10% of your emails to bounce back. This figure does not reflect the actual accuracy of the list as there are a number of reasons why your email may fail to deliver.

If you are not familiar with the terms hard and soft bounces here goes. A good example of a soft bounce would be where the intended recipient’s inbox was full. It could also be that their security settings have been set in such a way that it doesn’t like something in your email and has therefore rejected it. Maybe your IP address requires verification. Either way it is still a legitimate and valid email address and you just have to accept that the reason your email is rejected may not always be obvious to you. The nature of the beast I’m afraid. A hard bounce however means that the email address simply doesn’t exist and there is therefore no point in trying to send to it again.

One last thing… although we don’t offer advice on the creative aspects of your broadcast here are a couple of tips:

  • Your subject line is critical so don’t let it be an afterthought.
  • Attachments are a definite no no so don’t include them.

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