You might have noticed a slew of odd-looking emails landing in your inbox lately. Desperate subject lines like “please don’t go” and “is it really over” abound.
These thirsty emails aren’t the handiwork of a scorned ex—they’re from brands complying with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation by asking us if we’d like to remain subscribed to their marketing emails.
So, let us all take this opportunity to clean out our poor, detritus-ridden inboxes. Thank you, GDPR, for this enormous favour.
But, before we count all our chickens, let’s just take a second to make sure we know precisely how to unburden ourselves of the scourge of marketing emails. Mashable spoke to GDPR experts to find out precisely what we need to do to be free once and for all.
Why you’re receiving these emails
There’s actually a name for all these annoying emails clogging up your inbox right now. Per Darine Fayed, Head of Legal at Mailjet, these “do you want to still hear from us” emails are called Re-engagement Campaigns. “Companies are seeking to obtain express consent from their customer base,” says Fayed. That’s because, thanks to GDPR, the standards for obtaining consent from customers have “strengthened.” Brands are having to “clean out their customers lists” and ensure “they only contact the customers for whom they have well documented ‘proof of consent.'”
If brands fail to comply, they could land themselves with a massive fine. GDPR expert lawyer Batya Forsyth at Globalaw says that unless you “opt in” marketing departments must remove you from their mailing lists. “If the organisation fails to comply with GDPR they could be fined up to €20 million (£17.5 million, $23.4 million) or 4 percent of annual turnover, so you can understand why there has been such an influx of these emails,” says Forsyth.
Under GDPR, fines are much bigger, too. According to John McDermott, head of CRM at Jaywing, the fines for not following through with unsubscribe requests are “much higher.” “Whilst it’s fundamental to respect your wishes, the costs associated give an even greater reason for the brand to comply,” says McDermott. He recommends waiting until after 25 May before doing a proper clear-out of your inbox as you should notice a marked reduction in the number of junk mail you receive.
Ignore the ‘opt-in’ emails
Now that we’ve established why we’re being inundated with these emails, how do we go about getting our names well and truly off the lists? Forsyth says you don’t need to take any “affirmative steps” should you wish to no longer receive emails or notifications from brands after 25 May, when GDPR kicks in. “If you simply ignore marketing “opt in” emails, the company must remove you from its list,” says Forsyth.
Opt in to what matters to you
There is, of course, the odd brand that we don’t mind hearing from. And, some that we definitely do not want to lose touch with (I’m looking at you, Topshop).
“The ethos driving the GDPR is that EU residents are entitled to know what happens to their data, putting them in charge of what data is collected, who it is shared with and how,” says Forsyth. “So be sure to “opt in” to the mailing lists important to you.”
Don’t do nothing
But, not everyone is in favour of the “do nothing” approach. Harry Keen, CEO of Hazy—which provides a data anonymisation platform that enables businesses to become GDPR-compliant—says we shouldn’t simply ignore these emails. “Don’t just ignore, actively unsubscribe by scrolling down to the bottom of the email and finding the ‘unsubscribe here’ link. Almost all marketing emails have this link otherwise email services don’t deliver them,” says Keen. “This might involve logging in using some age old forgotten password, but it’s definitely worth the 30 seconds it will take.”
No unsubscribe button?
What if you’ve scrolled all the way to the bottom and there’s no unsubscribe button in sight? As Fayed points out, all marketing emails should have an opt-out or unsubscribe button at the bottom. “This is a longstanding ePrivacy Directive obligation (anti-spam laws), notwithstanding GDPR,” says Fayed.
If that button isn’t anywhere to be seen, there are a few things you can do, however. “The customer should then resort to checking their account preferences directly from the brand website and as a last resort they can file an abuse complaint (through their ESP or ISP) reporting the brand for bad practices if they cannot unsubscribe successfully and easily,” says Fayed.
What does all this mean?
Will our lives be transformed? Will your inboxes be finally rid of the pestilence of marketing emails?
Not quite, says Forsyth. “You should see a decline in marketing emails, but not the end of them. Some organisations may not send you this type of email because they may still be legally allowed to send future marketing emails if they already hold your consent (which you may have been given some time ago).” These brands will however need to make sure you have an easy way of opting out of future emails.
Thank goodness for GDPR!
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