How to Navigate Email Marketing Privacy Rules

By Madison Taylor
October 8, 2022

Online consumers have become increasingly concerned about how their information and data are stored. As a result, more laws are emerging that limit the amount of information marketers can access. Amidst GDPR laws and a major change to Apple Mail, email marketers are forced to adapt their content delivery. This entails staying compliant while creating customer conversions and generating a return on investment from their marketing endeavors.

It’s crucial for email marketers to know about these latest changes in privacy policies. In addition, they need to know how to stay compliant and evolve their practices, so they can continue collecting data critical for successful email marketing programs. Through strategic reprioritization, the idea that email marketing is dead becomes a myth. There is still much success to be had with this tried and true marketing channel.

Email Marketing and Data Privacy

Data and digital privacy laws protect the users’ rights to know and control how their data is used. These laws dictate how companies can collect and use customer data and require that companies communicate upfront about how their information is being used. Digital privacy laws affect almost every aspect of online activity between a user and business, and email marketing is no different.

Digital privacy laws apply rules to how email marketing can be delivered to a user, how a company can collect a user’s information, and the ease with which a user can unsubscribe from marketing communications. Additionally, iOS15 is jumping on the data protection bandwagon, further increasing the barrier to delivery.

Why Online Privacy Laws Matter To Businesses

At no great convenience to anyone, new privacy laws require businesses to ensure they are compliant with their data collection, use, and storage practices. Companies that fail to remain compliant and adhere to digital privacy laws risk hefty fines. Violating GDPR laws carries penalties up to 20 million euros or 4% of a company’s annual revenue.

Additionally, with increased consumer awareness around online data activity, a violation of laws and regulations could damage brand integrity and reputation. Violating privacy laws is closely tied to consumer trust in brands. When trust is broken, this could put a company into a downward spiral from which it will find it difficult to recover.

How GDPR Affects Email Marketing

Thankfully, email marketing is one of the easier domains of online activity to keep in compliance. To stay compliant with data privacy policies, including GDPR, email marketers need to:

  • Present users with a simple and easy way to opt-out of emails and newsletters
  • Provide an obvious opt-in box on all subscription forms with language stating something to the effect of “I consent to receive email and marketing messages”
  • Keep the data you collect to a bare minimum, limited by only what you need
  • Never sell or share your users’ data
  • Be straightforward and clear about your data practices
  • Perform due diligence on any third-party handlers to ensure they are privacy policy compliant

iOS 15 Privacy Changes and Email Marketing

In September of 2021, Apple introduced new privacy features for their users, leaving email marketers worried about the outlook of email marketing. These features affect content marketing and deliverability. It also impacts companies’ ability to view previously key metrics when determining the efficacy of their email marketing campaigns, such as open rates.

The privacy features include:

  • Mail privacy protection that masks IP addresses
  • iCloud + subscription VPN-like capabilities

Though companies have reported being affected by both the iOS 15 updates and GDPR, there are ways to evolve your approach to email marketing. This way, you still receive valuable insights into your performance.

How To Evolve Your Email Marketing Strategy With Data Privacy and iOS 15 Updates

Despite the concern the iOS update and new policies have caused, enough time has passed that marketers have discovered it is not the end of email marketing. Email marketing is still alive and well; success just depends on some shifts in strategy.

Look at different KPIs

Instead of abandoning all email marketing efforts, marketers have found that reprioritizing KPIs provides vital information. Not being able to depend on open rates as a KPI anymore is certainly frustrating. Consider focusing on the following to discover key information about your database:

  • CTRs
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Bounces
  • Email shares
  • Conversions

Aside from that, analyzing data from other sources contributes to the big picture of how all pieces of your marketing strategy are working together and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Examples include:

  • Email data from non-Apple users
  • Website activity
  • Social media analytics

Increase email deliverability

Aside from avoiding damage to your brand reputation and hefty fines, data privacy compliance has the benefit of increasing email deliverability. Easy unsubscribe and clear opt-in options will increase the likelihood of your email landing in your users’ mailbox in the first place. Also, personalizing emails, writing compelling subject lines, and keeping a healthy, high-quality email list will all benefit your business and the user in the long run.

Change to an established practice like email marketing can be daunting, but the nature of marketing is constantly evolving. By simply educating yourself and being willing to adapt your strategy, there are still plenty of opportunities to benefit from the power of email marketing even with industry changes.

Final Thoughts

Technology is an always-changing domain, and at times it can be frustrating for marketers. Just when you think you have a strategy nailed, a change in policy or algorithms can force you to recalibrate. However, marketing is about reinvention. When you approach challenges with creativity and curiosity, there is almost always a solution waiting on the other side.