Impact of GDPR on Email Marketing and How You Can Avoid Paying Heavy Fines

Digital privacy laws such as California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have acted as roadblocks to email marketing in recent years. However, it is not the end of the world for your email marketing campaigns. There are different ways to find your way around these hostile laws to ensure your email marketing efforts are effective. 

GDPR and CCPA are two words no marketer wants to hear. There is a strong reason for that. Here are a few points to put things in perspective:

  • Nearly 1 out of 3 B2B marketers expected their conversion rates to decrease with GDPR [1].
  • More than 51% of marketers believed that their mailing lists would shrink in size [2]. 
  • Around 40% of marketers expected GDPR to have a negative impact on their current marketing strategy [3]. 

Companies cannot ignore GDPR either. 

SEE ALSO: 5 Major Differences between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

Fines associated with new privacy laws

If you do not comply with the new privacy laws, you are likely to get into a lot of trouble. In fact, you may have to pay a fine of around $23 million or 4% of your global turnover – whichever is higher. 

Since the law took effect in 2018, around 800 fines have been imposed across the U.K. and the European Economic Area (EEA) [4]. 

Here are some of the most sizeable GDPR fines that were paid in the last three years [5]:

  • Amazon – $877 million
  • Google – $56.6 million
  • British Airways – $31.5 million
  • Marriot – $23.8 million
  • Vodafone Spain – $9.72 million

So, the question is, can you create and execute your email marketing strategy without having to pay such hefty fines?

Let’s take a look at the impact of GDRP on email marketing and how we are gradually entering a new era of permission-based marketing. You can also read about the influence of iOS 15 on email marketing strategies in 2021

Impact of GDPR on email marketing

GDPR is a cumulative name used to describe a group of European Union laws governing personal data protection. GDPR has taken into account existing data protection laws and modified them in tune with the digital environment. 

The most noteworthy change in EU data protection can be seen in terms of their reach. These laws are strictly applicable to businesses in Europe. Besides that, they are also applicable to any individual who processes personal data on an EU citizen. 

What can be defined as personal data?

As per the official GDPR website, personal data can be defined as “anything” – from medical information to name or a photo to an IP address and more. However, in this article, we will only focus on email addresses to avoid any confusion when we refer to personal data. 

According to the Email Statistics Report published by The Radicati Group, Inc., around 333 billion emails will be sent each day in 2021 [6]. Around 53% of these are promotional emails [7]. 

The sheer volume of emails makes it easy to understand why email is under the radar of GDPR regulators. This is another reason why businesses are required to take permission to send these types of promotional emails.

Now, what if you are a B2B business that does not rely on email marketing? Even if you send emails to multiple recipients from your personal account, it can be classified as email marketing. 

This is why it is important to ensure that your email campaigns do not land you in a soup. Here are some ways you can avoid breaching the new data privacy laws. 

1. Collect data you intend to use

Data privacy laws allow businesses to collect information when they have been given permission from the user and have a clear business-related use case. Collecting information you do not require can be deemed as a violation of privacy. 

This is the reason why you should avoid collecting data that does not compliment your marketing efforts. 

2. Be as transparent as possible while collecting data

Your firm should be as transparent as possible about the type of data you collect and the purpose behind it. Ensure that this information is easily accessible in plain language to any individual who wants to review it. 

3. Collect and store the contact information in the right manner

You should never forget that when you are collecting email addresses from your users, they are giving you permission to contact them via email. You should consider setting up a check box with says “I agree to receive emails and newsletters from “XYZ brand”. 

Be very clear about how you will use the personal identifier and leverage the same to improve the user experience. 

4. Never share or sell user data

Securing personal user information

When you share data with other companies without defining the business purpose and user consent, it is considered a data privacy violation. You should never sell or share data to another company without guaranteeing that you are complying with the applicable data privacy laws. 

5. Third-party service providers

GDPR laws mandate companies to provide an assurance that the third-party service providers that handle user data also comply with the legal obligations. If they fail to comply, it could invite trouble for your company along with the third-party service providers. This is why, you should ensure that you are working with platforms that are CCPA/GDPR compliant, honest, and value data protection. 

Final Words

Data protection laws in EU

Contrary to popular belief, email marketing continues to remain one of the most effective marketing tools. The impressive return on investment (ROI) along with the advent of a host of reliable email marketing software makes it a powerful marketing channel. 

We agree that the evolving regulatory landscape around the world linked with email marketing can pose a threat to your marketing efforts. However, with the right amount of research and due diligence, you can avoid damage to brand reputation and unnecessary fines. 

Even if you manage to stabilize the situation on the financial front, your customers will always remember how you handled their personal data. You could lose a considerable amount of customers and eventually get into their bad books. The true cost of violating GDPR laws is far more than just the fines you pay as it could severely damage your brand reputation. 

SEE ALSO: AI in Email Marketing: 6 Ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) Can Be Used in Email Marketing

Feature Image Source: Image by

Image 1 Source: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Image 2 Source: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay


[1] [2] [3] MacDonald. S (2021) “DID GDPR KILL OFF B2B EMAIL MARKETING AS WE KNOW IT?” SuperOffice [online] Available from: [accessed October 2021]
[4] [5] (2021) “20 Biggest GDPR Fines of 2019, 2020, and 2021 (So Far)” Tessian [online] Available from: [accessed October 2021]

[6] (2017) “Email Statistics Report, 2017-2021” THE RADICATI GROUP, INC [online] Available from: [accessed October 2021]
[7] Sather. T (2015) “What’s Inside Consumers’ Inboxes & What That Means For Email Marketing” Martech [online] Available from: [accessed October 2021]

Karandeep V

Karandeep V

Karandeep was born in Pune, Maharashtra, an upcoming metropolitan city in the Western region of India. While most members of his family are engineers, he had different ideas. He was more inclined toward exploring the non-technical aspects of a business, which is why he studied Bachelors of Business Administration at Symbiosis International University, Pune.  Having said that, his love for new and upcoming technologies remained intact, which is why he has written extensively about technology throughout his career. After a brief stint with a gaming company at the beginning of his career, he discovered that his love for writing was not temporary.  Being a tech geek, he always liked installing and playing around with new applications on his mobile devices and the home desktop. He was fascinated by how technology can simplify even the most mundane and complex tasks with just a few commands. He keeps a close eye on how businesses use different tools to streamline their operations to boost productivity and efficiency. At ToolsMetric, he writes product reviews that cover the main features and specifications of different enterprise applications. The sheer amount of innovation and hard work that goes into building these tech solutions is one of the reasons why Karandeep loves reviewing these tools. Besides product reviews, he also writes interesting news articles and blogs that track the latest developments in the tech industry.  When he is not writing, you can find him rooted to his seat playing video games, watching movies, or supporting his favorite football team. Since his childhood, he has always loved to travel and explore new places. Traveling is a major part of his life due to a myriad of reasons such as experiencing new cultures, food, and traditions. His other hobbies include playing football, cooking, and running.  You can find him on LinkedIn here.

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