The GDPR and Email Marketing

Do I have to ask all my existing mailing list subscribers to opt-in to receive email updates?

This is a very good question, and after waiting an hour and 39 minutes, a very helpful ICO officer called Keira helped explain what the GDPR requires you to do if you have an existing mailing list.

Like most companies, we have spent several years growing a list of clients, prospects and interested parties. Our understanding of the new GDPR legislation was that everyone on our mailing list should have the option to opt-out. As we have used mailchimp for many years, this option has always been standard, so we were happy that this ticked the ‘option to opt-out’ box.

However, after learning a little more about the new GDPR legislation, our understanding changed and it raised the question…

Do we have to get all our exisiting subscribers to opt-in again?

There are 2 answers:

No… If your clients are ‘corporate subscribers’ (with an email address: name then you do not have to ask them to opt back in. They can happily sit on your mailing list with the option of opting out whenever they want. The only requirement is that you, as the sender, must identify yourself and provide your contact details. The subscriber can ask you for any details you have on them and you will have to supply them (for which you may charge a small admin if required).

Yes… Corporate subscribers do not include sole traders, so you will need to email any sole traders with the option to opt-in to your email updates. Sole traders and some partnerships come under the same category as individual clients and can’t automatically be kept on the mailing list.

If you are in any doubt please check this document on the ICO’s website:

Direct Marketing Guidance – Scroll down to point 141 (Business-to-business texts and emails)

You can also call the ICO on 0303 123 1113 (best of luck – the wait is a long one…)

Other useful links:

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