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Understanding consent to email

Do you have consent to email? Understanding the 3 types of email consent

In today’s world of GDPR compliance and anti-spam laws, it can be difficult to navigate the legal system and understand who you can and can’t email. This is especially confusing when you get trade show leads and you want to follow up efficiently.

We’ve done the wading, and are breaking it down in plain English for you here. The long and short of it is: Yes, you can send emails to people using the email address from their business card that they’ve provided during the trade show. Or any business event for that matter. If you’re strapped for time, you can leave now. If you want to know why – read on.

Do you have permission to send marketing emails to anyone?

Knowing the rules governing email marketing in New Zealand can be helpful when planning your business’s email strategy. For example, you are not allowed to simply send a marketing email as it is considered spam also known legally as unsolicited commercial electronic messages in this country, meaning that any emails you send that are not advertisements will likely fall into this category. Additionally, you must gain your customer’s consent before sending them Communications of a Commercial Nature (COCNs); otherwise, these could be considered Spam and punishable by law.

One that aren’t considered spams are Transactional Emails, Transactional emails are e-mails you send to your customers either following up on a transaction that they have made through your website or in order to notify them about the changes and updates to your product or service. So, you might be asking how am I supposed to send marketing emails if this is the only acceptable form of email? Through trade shows of course.

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity for your sales rep to make connections with potential customers, as it allows you to get 3 types of consent to emails. 

3 types of consent to email

Under NZ Law there are three types of consent someone can give you to send an email:

  1. Express Consent
  2. Deemed Consent
  3. Inferred Consent

But why is it OK to email people after a trade show?

Express consent 

This means someone ticks a box that says “Yes, please send me more information”. This consent can also be given verbally in a conversation – either in person or over the phone. If you’re standing there chatting to someone at your stand you can simply ask – “Is it OK to send you some more info via email?” And that will give you express consent. 

You can also ask them to fill out a form with their details and include an email opt-in box so that you can keep in touch, receive marketing emails or if they agree to receive newsletters from you. In addition, you should also provide them with the option to opt-out to the email address they’ve provided if they don’t want to receive emails from you. You should make it as clear as possible for them how they can unsubscribe from your emails, so that they have no trouble doing so if they need to.

Again, this gives you express consent. The only problem is if the issue of consent is ever brought up, it’s up to the sender to prove consent. So, a conversation at an expo might be difficult to use as proof.

This brings us to inferred consent.

Inferred consent refers to when someone engages you, they might expect you to follow up. Say they purchase something, there is a reasonable expectation you will send some emails. Inferred consent doesn’t apply to trade show leads.

This leaves us with deemed consent.

According to the DIA “Deemed consent is when someone conspicuously publishes their electronic address (e.g. on a website, brochure or magazine) in a business or official capacity.”.

And this is the consent you will most commonly be able to use and provide proof of. All you need to do is make sure the data is time stamped when you upload and make a note which event you connected with the lead. This should be a part of your process anyway as it makes following up simpler. And it also serves as proof of deemed consent.

It’s all about compliance

It’s important to understand and be compliant with any rules and guidelines that may exist, as this can help reduce potential risks associated with your email campaigns. By staying up-to-date on official regulations governing email marketing in New Zealand, you’ll be able to run a safer operation and avoid any penalties or fines that may come your way.

In summary: at trade shows or business events, when someone gives you their business card there is a reasonable expectation that you will be in touch with them. The message should still be relevant, and you shouldn’t send too many emails. But if you keep a time stamp and know which event you connected on, then from a legal point of view you are clear.

If you’d like to learn more, read this article written by the Marketing Association of NZ.

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