HomeBlog How EU Opt-In Laws Can Drive Effective B-to-B Email Marketing

How EU Opt-In Laws Can Drive Effective B-to-B Email Marketing

July 17, 2013 | By Julian Archer

While email is a proven tactic for delivering pertinent messages to a targeted audience, a high percentage of European Union (EU)-based marketers view the laws regarding email, spam and data protection as a serious issue. Organizations need improved data management processes and qualified opt-in lists based on relationships with recipients who actually want to interact with your company.

A recent SiriusDecisions survey called “Effective Demand Creation Techniques for the European Market” asked b-to-b organizations to name their top five demand generation tactics.  Not surprisingly, 43 percent of respondents included email marketing.

Email is a proven tactic for delivering pertinent messages to a targeted audience.  However, a high percentage of the European Union (EU)-based marketers surveyed also cited laws regarding email, spam and data protection laws as a serious issue.  Simply put, b-to-b marketers are concerned about breaking the law.

Each of the 28 EU nations has its own interpretation of the original European Commission Directive 2002/58/EC, which governs email law. These inconsistencies have driven many companies to view opt-in email marketing as mandatory. Does the directive effectively mean the end of email marketing?

SiriusDecisions’ research clearly shows that this is not the case. Rather than spending time bemoaning the situation or trying to find legal loopholes, marketers should seize the opportunity to move closer to a completely opt-in or permission-based email marketing approach.

This shift requires improved data management processes and building qualified opt-in lists based on relationships with recipients who actually want to interact with your company.

Easier said than done, I hear you say. You would be correct – no one said effective marketing was easy.  But there are several approaches that can increase the number and quality of opt-in contacts:

  • An obvious tactic – but one that, sadly, is not always practiced – is ensuring that you can separate customers from non-customers.  Through an existing relationship, you can communicate with customers via soft opt-in.

  • Review your Web site and online campaign pages and ensure email sign-up forms are readily accessible and attached to a valuable content offer. Continue to invest in relevant content that your prospects actually want to consume and offer it in multiple media formats.

  • When attending or organizing events, take steps to attract visitors with an offer in exchange for not only their information but also their opt-in consent.

  • Employ an online preference center to guide your data collection and drive your visitors to opt in to all relevant communication.

At SiriusDecisions, we continue to hear of organizations sending emails to EU recipients without a full understanding of opt-in laws.  The urge to mail to as many contacts as possible in the hope of catching a lead is constant, and the pressure to blindly implement globally led programs is immense.  So, what about you? Are you pursuing the path of permission or simply opting for opt-out?

Julian Archer

Julian Archer is a Senior Research Director of Marketing Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He has more than 25 years of international b-to-b demand creation experience within corporate and pan-European field functions. Follow Julian on Twitter @julianarcher