There was an old law called the 1995 Data Protection Directive. The GDPR is a law, not a directive. It has a lot more teeth, so to speak. Also, the old directive didn’t apply to all foreign companies. The GDPR applies to every company who does business in the European Union. It’s the biggest effort yet to protect consumer privacy.

What does the GDPR mean for companies who buy email lists?

The GDPR has massive implications for companies that buy email lists. The third-party email list market will be heavily reduced. That’s because the fines for breaking the GDPR are steep- up to 4% of your revenue. If you’re still using a third-party list, you have to make sure that list complies with GDPR. You also may have to get re-permission from some of your older lists.

How does the GDPR affect unsubscribing?

The GDPR insists that you make it easy for consumers to unsubscribe from your email list. There has to be a “simple” and “clearly-stated” way for people to unsubscribe. Moreover, the GDPR says slipping email information to sister companies or friendly companies is totally unacceptable. If any information is shared, it must be clear, straightforward, and approved by the consumer.

Can’t I get around most of this stuff with legal gobbledygook?

No. The GDPR is very clear about this. No longer can you hide a consent agreement in a 10-page privacy notice that no one reads. Everything has to be spelled out in plain language, and if it’s not, you’re in violation of the GDPR. Unticked consent boxes won’t go away, but protracted legal privacy pages are a thing of the past.

What about pre-ticked consent boxes?

The GDPR specifically bans these. To be fair they were never popular, but now they’re officially out the window.

A lot of marketers, particularly B2B marketers, collect emails via goldfish bowls. In other words, companies at conferences often offer a chance at a prize in exchange for an email. Is that still legal, and what happens to old emails collected way?

This tactic has been a staple of businesses for decades. The GDPR tosses it out the window. Right now, all consent must be valid, freely given, informed, detailed, and unambiguous. What does all that really mean in practice?

For one thing, companies often weren’t fair with these drawings. They cheated, and some people who entered the drawing were excluded (although they were still marketed to). This stops with the GDPR. Every prize must be available to all entrants. Perhaps more importantly, consent must be freely given and informed. In other words, an unchecked consent box will show up next to these prize entries. If a customer doesn’t check the box, you can’t market to them. Moreover, if you’re marketing to customers who didn’t freely give consent in the past, you’ll have to reconfirm their interest. This is especially true if they haven’t engaged with you (confirmed their consent) since they signed up.

What can I do if I have more questions?

The GDPR is confusing. Don’t get stuck with a large fine. Bounceless has a team of email marketing experts. We’ll be glad to answer your questions for free- no matter how small. Just send us an email and we’ll get back to you soon.