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27 Jul

GDPR - 10 things you MUST KNOW if you email your customers


On 25th May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulations (officially (EU) 2016/679) comes into action.

This is kind of a big deal for all companies who send emails to their customers with news, offers, events, promos – well, any sort of email communication!

It’s pretty serious too – maximum fines for non-compliance with the GDPR is 20 Million Euros or up to 4% of a business’s annual worldwide turnover, whichever is the greater.

So – you’ll agree that it’s worth making sure that your business is GDPR complaint when it comes to communicating to your customers via email, right!?

Where to start!

If you’ve already started looking into this in preparation for next May – well done you! If like us, you started off by looking at the content on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website then you probably curled up in a ball and hoped you were having a nightmare! Yes, it’s not exactly light reading is it!

So, after trawling the net and reading some excellent third-party resources, we’ve put together, in our opinion, the most important 10 things you need to know about GDPR relating to emailing your customers and contacts.

Got a cuppa at the ready? OK, let’s go!

1. Your email contacts must of double opted-in to your lists – oh yes!

Under the new GDPR regulation, all the contacts you have in your email database for communication and marketing MUST of double opted-in to your lists. So, that means they actively ticked a box or selected an option and then, checked their email and clicked on a link to confirm (that’s the double bit…). This then ensures that the owner of the email address absolutely 100% want’s to receive emails from your company – no question.

2. You need to tell subscribers what they are signing up for and what they will be receiving

This is important! You need to let people know what you will be sending them and how often this is likely to be. Be as clear and transparent as you can. Give people as much control as possible when they sign-up to your marketing list. Perhaps you send customers offers, news and event promos – why not let people choose what they do and don’t want to receive when they sign up – give them full control!

3. You have to keep a record of consent from the email contacts you have on your database

This is a biggie! So, under new GDPR rules you need to be able to prove that you have had consent from each person to use their email address – and, this needs to include a statement that explains to them what you will be using their email address for. Key data to collect here would be Name, Permission Statement, Date, Time and IP Address – but, the more the better. Make sure that this data is not only collected but is securely stored and can easily be called upon if/when needed.

4. GDPR also applies to existing data. Yep, afraid so!

OK, so if you thought you can continue to use the data that you’ve already got and that you just need to play by the book form now on – nope. If you have email addresses in your database for which permissions have not been collected according to the GDPR’s rule book, or if you can’t provide any firm evidence of consent for your contacts, then you can’t use them

5. You need to make sure your Privacy notice is GDPR compliant

So, you’ll need to make sure that when a user signs up to your website, blog, offers page or whatever they are interested in – you need to be telling them exactly what you are going to be sending them, what you are using the data for, how you are storing the data etc etc (there is lots to include).

6. Permission to use an email address for marketing cannot come from silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity

No more sneaky tricks to get people subscribed to your email database. We need to be clear, transparent and put the control 100% into the hands of the email address owner. So for example, tick boxes for email newsletter sign-ups can’t be pre-ticked and we can’t just ‘assume’ they want to receive emails because they’ve bought loads of products from our shop or given us a nice review.

7. Make sure you have a procedure in place to detect, report and investigate any breaches in personal data that you hold

Do a review of the contact data that your company holds and make sure that if someone complains about the misuse of their data that you can quickly find out why this happened and importantly, quickly resolve the issue to make sure it never happens again.

8. You can’t hide data collection and privacy policy information in your main terms and conditions

When providing people with sign-ups to your mailing lists, you can’t just hide this information in your general terms and conditions any more – you need to make sure you have a separate statement specifically for how you are going to use their email address.

9. Get it right, as it’s not worth the risk. Fines could reach 20 Million Euros!

Although, in our opinion, GDPR will only really hit the ‘big boys’ if they don’t follow the rules, it’s important to make sure you have a legal and responsible email delivery procedure at your business –after all, it’s going to be EU Law from May 2018!

10. There is still time – what are you waiting for?

Don’t panic – we’ve still got time to get our email data up to scratch and legal. Why not start with a new ‘Email Consent’ campaign to target all your contacts (whilst you still can) and ask them to sign-up and double-opt in to continue to receive awesome emails from your business. You should give them as many options as possible, including an option to opt-out… you may as well, after all, this is the whole point of new GDPR regulation – if people don’t want to receive emails from you – they shouldn’t have to!


You’re probably thinking – oh no. That’s the end of our large email database then!... well, not necessarily. At the end of the day, if you’ve got a sound database of contacts that do want to hear from you – you’ve got nothing to worry about, right? It’s only those contacts who don’t want to hear from you that you’ll lose – and to be honest, if they don’t want to know what you’re up to – the marketing impact on those people will be minimal. Think of this as way of cleaning your email marketing data and ensuring the people you are talking you, love to hear from you.

Please note, the above content is simply 'our take' on best practise with regards to emailing your clients under GDPR legislation. We strongly recommend you learn more about GDPR here and how your business needs to prepare for it, as every business is different!


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Dolia Design Ltd
The Old Coach House
The Avenue, Farleigh Wallop
Basingstoke RG25 2HT

01256 536 080



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