You Can Send Unsolicited Emails. Just Follow the Rules.
“Our compliance team says that marketing and sales can’t send emails to contacts without their active consent.” How many times have you heard or read this? If you’re in B2B marketing, I am guessing quite a few. This is a common misconception. Take a second to think about it. If cold emails were illegal, companies wouldn’t be investing a whole lot of money and resources into driving successful email marketing campaigns worldwide.
In most cases, you can send unsolicited emails for marketing purposes but with some important caveats. Let’s break down what’s allowed and how to ensure your marketing campaigns comply with anti-spam laws.
In the US, the CAN-SPAM Act, enacted in 2003, regulates commercial email messages. Under the act, you are able to send unsolicited emails so long as you follow the regulations laid out. Some key points:
- You must provide a way for recipients to opt-out from receiving future emails from your company and you must honor this request within 30 days. Most email platforms automatically add unsubscribe a link to your emails that will automatically do this for you.
- You must clearly identify who is sending the email.
- You must refrain from deceptive subject lines.
- You must include your company name/address.
The good news, the Act covers best practices that your marketing team is likely already following. You can send cold emails—you just have to make sure you’re following the guidelines set out. The CAN-SPAM Act, of course, applies only in the United States. If you are sending emails to people who reside in other countries, you need to make sure you understand the laws of those countries.
Canada and Europe
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that you show that you believe that the recipient has “legitimate business interests” in receiving an email from you (i.e. that your email content is relevant to the recipient’s potential business needs). The GDPR does not define what factors to take into account when deciding if your purpose is a legitimate interest. However, having a legitimate interest means that you must have some clear and specific benefit or outcome in mind, so make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve by sending your email. A targeted email with thought leadership content that’s relevant to your audience typically satisfies this requirement.
Canadian laws are a bit more particular about how you send commercial emails. Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) regulates that you can send email without consent, as long as you are not sending a direct solicitation to participate in a commercial activity (i.e. a coupon or a product offer). You are allowed to send content such as an invitation to a webinar or to download a free whitepaper.
If you have a reliable provider of contact information, like RevenueBase, along with quality marketing content and a solid reputation, unsolicited email campaigns can be a very effective way to generate leads. If you don’t have an outbound strategy, think about it. Sending relevant messages to the right people works. Just make sure you follow the regulations.