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What Legal Requirements Should be Considered for Email Marketing? 

Email marketing is an effective way for businesses to connect with customers. However, it must be done legally to avoid issues. There are laws dictating how commercial emails can be sent to consumers. Failing to follow regulations exposes businesses to potential legal problems like fines or being labelled spammers.  

This is why it's important to understand key legal requirements. By staying compliant with email marketing laws, you can avoid regulatory missteps. In this post, we'll explore major regulations impacting email marketing globally and how to keep campaigns above board.  

Key Regulations Around Email Marketing 

When sending marketing emails, you need to be aware of several key regulations that impact your campaigns. These laws exist to protect the recipient's data privacy and inbox from unwanted spam. Failing to follow them can lead to legal headaches. 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European regulation that affects how personal data can be collected, stored, and used. Under GDPR, you must have explicit opt-in consent before sending marketing emails to contacts.  

You also need to honour unsubscribe requests promptly and have lawful reasons for processing subscriber data. GDPR sets strict standards around protecting EU citizens' personal information.  

In the UK, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) also apply. PECR states that you cannot send unsolicited emails to consumers without consent. It outlines specific requirements for marketing emails like providing identity details and a valid unsubscribe option. Violating PECR can lead to fines from the ICO. 

There are also anti-spam laws like the Spam Act in Australia and CAN-SPAM Act in the US. These make it illegal to send misleading commercial emails or those without an unsubscribe facility. You could face lawsuits or criminal charges for violating anti-spam regulations. Carefully following opt-in and send requirements keeps your email program compliant. 

How to Ensure Your Emails Are Legal 

There are a few key steps you should take to keep your email marketing compliant with regulations: 

Get opt-in consent before sending emails 

One of the core requirements of laws like GDPR is that you have explicit permission from recipients before sending them your messages. This means you need to provide an opt-in box for them to actively agree to receive your emails, rather than just collecting addresses. Having proof of opt-in consent protects you in case of complaints. 

Provide an unsubscribe option on all marketing emails 

Your commercial messages must always include a clear and easy way for people to unsubscribe or opt out of getting future emails. Usually, this means having an "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom. Honouring unsubscribe requests promptly is required under CAN-SPAM, PECR, and other regulations.  

Don't buy or use purchased email lists 

A common email marketing mistake is buying or obtaining email lists from third parties. However, it's illegal to send emails to addresses that were collected without consent. Only use link where you have permission directly from each subscriber to market to them. 

Honour unsubscribe requests promptly 

When someone opts out of your emails, you must remove them from your list right away. Anti-spam laws dictate how fast you need to comply with unsubscribe requests, usually within 10 business days. Delaying this process can violate regulations. 

Use an appropriate from name and subject lines 

Avoid misleading or deceptive sender names and subject lines. Your emails could get flagged as spam if you "disguise" them. Be transparent by using your business name as the sender and clear subject lines reflecting the content. 

How Can I Avoid My Emails Being Marked as Spam? 

Getting your marketing messages wrongly flagged as spam can drastically reduce your deliverability.  

Here are our pro tips to keep your emails out of the spam folder: 


  • Avoid flagged spam words like “free” and “act now” in subject lines 

Some keywords will often trigger spam filters, even if you are a legitimate sender. Avoid subject lines that look like sales pitches or clickbait. Keep subject lines short, personal, and relevant to the content. 


  • Ensure you have a valid sender authentication setup (SPF, DKIM) 

Properly configuring SPF and DKIM confirms you as a valid sender. This builds your sending reputation and reduces the risk of spam categorisation. Use authentication protocols to demonstrate you are not sending unwanted messages. 


  • Personalise messages with the recipient's name when possible 

Spam filters look for impersonal emails sent in bulk. When feasible, include the recipient's first name or customise the content for them. This indicates you are a real sender targeting individuals.  


  • Segment your lists to send relevant content

Make sure you are only sending emails recipients would find valuable. Overly broad messaging looks like spam. Segment your lists based on user preferences and behaviour to send tailored content. 


  • Monitor bounce rates and remove invalid addresses 

If emails constantly bounce, that's a red flag for spam filters. Monitor non-deliverables and promptly remove bad addresses from your lists. This improves list quality. 


  • Use double opt-in when collecting email addresses

Requiring subscribers to confirm sign-up via email helps ensure valid addresses. This prevents errors from typos or fake addresses from being added, reducing future bounces. 



Email marketing can provide immense value to your business, but only if done legally and with care. By understanding and closely following the regulations around email marketing, you can avoid potential issues while building positive relationships with your subscribers. 

Being aware of and compliant with data protection and anti-spam laws demonstrates respect for your subscribers’ inboxes. It helps build trust that you are a legitimate sender they want to engage with. Taking the time to send email marketing legally shows your brand cares about more than just sales numbers. 

The legal landscape can be complex. Here at SpiderDigital, we have the expertise to guide your email marketing program through compliance requirements. Our team stays on top of the latest regulations and helps craft tailored campaigns that avoid spam triggers. 

Partner with the email marketing professionals at SpiderDigital. Reach out for a free consultation to ensure your next campaign follows laws and best practices for delivery and results.  

Contact SpiderDigital today to get started on your email marketing journey. 


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