We all need to be able to find new customers or clients and market our products or services. However, there still seems to be some confusion about what you can and cannot lawfully do when marketing under GDPR, especially in relation to electronic marketing through email and SMS.
Although, GDPR does change the definition of consent with regard to electronic marketing, the important piece of legislation is the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), which may be updated in due course by the new EPrivacy Regulations.
As a business or an organisation, you must have consent to market an individual by email or SMS (unless you can rely on soft opt in – see below). Consent has already been discussed in the previous blogs. Remember, even if your electronic marketing is business to business, the rules relating to marketing individuals may still apply. For example, an email which follows the format email@example.com will be a business email address because it contains no personal data and the rules on marketing businesses will apply. However, an email which follows the format firstname.lastname@example.org is an individual’s email address, as it contains personal data (their name), and the rules relating to marketing individuals will apply.
That said, if an individual has obtained a service or product from you, then you can rely on the “soft opt in”. This means that you can send them marketing material without obtaining consent, providing you gave them the opportunity to opt out of marketing from the outset of your relationship and you continue to provide that option or “unsubscribe” every time you contact them. However, the “soft opt in” does not apply to charities unless certain criteria are met.
If marketing by telephone, remember to check the Telephone Preference Service and if marketing to businesses, check the Corporate Telephone Preference Service. Sole traders and small businesses could be registered with either.
There are, of course, numerous other methods of marketing including the use of third parties and the use of bought in lists. For further assistance with this, please do not hesitate to contact us.